The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Is Tom glad he spoke out on behalf of Muff Potter or not? Explain what his attitude shows us about his character.


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The first instinct of most readers is to commend Tom for his gallant behavior, citing that his decision to tell the truth is one of maturity and grace. However, we must realize that had Tom told the truth from the very beginning, the trial against Muff Potter would never have begun in the first place. Rather, it has taken Tom a long time to think over his action; and for a while, thoughts of the murder did not even occupy his mind when he was courting Becky or on Jackson Island. Even directly before the trial, we see Tom trying to appease his conscience by talking to Muff Potter through the jail grating; even after Muff Potter's soliloquy, Tom still plans to "keep mum." It is not until he is haunted in his dreams that he finally decides to break his vow of silence with Huck.