The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Summary and Analysis of Chapters 22-28

Chapter 22 Summary:

Over vacation, Tom joins a "new" band of boys called the "Cadets of Temperance," known for their showy regalia and red sashes. He vows not to drink or swear, but learns that "to promise not to do a thing is the surest way to makes a body want to go and do that very thing." Unable to abstain from these vices, Tom goes back to his mischievous ways. Presently, Tom grows bored with all his free time and attempts to fill it with various activities. He starts a diary, forms a musical band, plays circus, and even attends a few "boys-and-girls'" parties. But nothing amuses Tom: Becky had left St. Petersburg to stay with her parents, and the secret of Dr. Robinson's murder haunted him more than ever.

Tom then comes down with the measles, during which time the entire town of St. Petersburg undergoes a kind of religious revival. Upon recovering from his sickness, Tom finds that all the little boys ­ Joe Harper, Ben Rogers, and even good old Huck Finn ­ had "got religion." That night comes a terrible storm, and Tom sincerely believes that the storm is meant as punishment for him. But the tempest dies, and Tom finds himself sick with a relapse of the measles. After another three weeks in bed, Tom finds his friends have given up their pious ways. "Poor lads! They ­ like Tom ­ had suffered a relapse."

Chapter 22 Analysis:

Here, Twain depicts the sleepiness and triviality of small town life. The circus comes, then goes; the minstrel comes, then goes; excitement comes, then goes. Even the largest celebration of the year ­ the Fourth of July ­ seems like any other day. Tom has good intentions by joining the Temperance Cadets, but is so bored with St. Petersburg that he is unable to remain a "good boy" for much longer.

When the revival comes to town, it seems that everyone has found religion. But Twain's rejection of the Christian faith can be seen in this chapter when the revival, too, comes and goes as quick as it came. Religious revival is paralleled to Tom's bout of the measles, or the passing of the storm: each as pestilent and fleeting as the other. In his works, Twain regards the Bible with no deference, and instead expresses a deep-rooted cynicism toward organized religion, regarding it as ignorance and superstition.

Chapter 23 Summary:

Finally, the sleepy town of St. Petersburg begins to stir again as the trial for the murder of Dr. Robinson begins. Since witnessing the murder, neither Huck nor Tom has divulged the events of that night to anyone for fear of Injun Joe's wrath. But by and by, the two boys recall Muff Potter's ­ falsely accused of the murder ­ good nature: how he had mended their kites, tied their fishing lines, and "stood by [Huck] when [he] was out of luck." The two find themselves loitering outside the isolated jail, as they had done so many times, passing tobacco and cigarettes through the cell grating. Cowardice and guilt come over the boys when Muff Potter expresses his gratitude to the boys and warns them against the evils of alcohol. "You've been mighty good to me boysŠ Shake handsŠ little hands, and weak ­ but they've helped Muff Potter a power, and they'd help him more if they could." Tom and Huck left in a miserable mood, and each avoided the other at the courthouse the next day.

By the end of the second day, the village gossip is that Injun Joe's evidence could not be doubted. Tom, out late that night, sneaks through the bedroom window ­ too excited to go to sleep. The next morning, the village courthouse is completely filled. After the judge arrives, the prosecuting attorney calls witness after witness who could account Muff Potter's strange behavior the day after the murder. To the surprise of the courtroom, the defense attorney refuses to cross-examine the witnesses. Instead, the defense attorney calls Thomas Sawyer to the witness stand. Puzzlement crosses the entire audience as Tom is administered the oath. Nervous and scared, Tom recounts the events of the night spent in the graveyard. "ŠMuff Potter fell, Injun Joe jumped with the knife and Š" says Tom; and with the sentence unfinished, Injun Joe tears through the courthouse, out the window, and disappears.

Chapter 23 Analysis:

The trial of Muff Potter finally stirs up the small town of St. Petersburg and is an important turning point in the novel. One theme that is exemplified by the trial scene is the theme of "justice." Twain uses the idea of "justice" throughout the novel: Injun Joe's revenge on Dr. Robinson, Tom's thoughts of revenge, Aunt Polly's need to punish Tom. The idea that "every action has a reaction" is embodied in the legal trial. And of course, in order for justice to happen, Tom must make the decision to come forward with his eyewitness account of the murder.

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.

Chapter 24 Summary:

The good citizens of St. Petersburg embrace Muff Potter, and Tom is once again the town hero and the envy of all the children. But although his days are spent basking in praise, his dreams are infested with images of Injun Joe. Huck, too, is in the same predicament, afraid that he, too, will be named as a witness to the murder. For although Huck's name had not been mentioned in trial and the defense attorney had been sworn to secrecy, Tom had broken his oath to "keep mum" and Huck's "confidence in the human races was well-nigh obliterated."

But there is no information of Injun Joe, who fled the courtroom. Rewards are offered, and even a detective had been hired. But Injun is nowhere to be found. With the passing days, Tom loses some anxiety

Chapter 24 Analysis:

Tom's nightmares represent his unsettled guilt and fear. stemming from his withholding of the truth. Dreams are often an outlet for one's unconscious; we can often gain more insight into the nature of a character through the analysis of his or her dreams. Here, Tom's conscience is manifested in his nightmares because it is the only time his fears are allowed to enter his mind; his fear of Injun Joe and his vow with Huck are impedances to his feelings of guilt. Just as before on Jackson island, when Tom was unable to fall asleep, his conscience haunts him. As part of growing up and assuming responsibility, Tom must learn to listen to his conscience rather than ignore it.

Chapter 25 Summary:

"There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy's life," writes Twain, "when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure." With his "raging desire," Tom seeks out Huck Finn and the two go off to dig hidden treasure under dead-limb trees at the old haunted house on Still-House branch, the other side of the hill from the Widow Douglas's. After walking almost three miles, they rest a while before using a crippled pick and shovel to dig for about half-an-hour. After failing to uncover a "rotten chest dull of di'monds," the boys change to a new site. Still unsuccessful, they realize that they can only dig where the "shadow of a limb falls at midnight."

Returning at midnight to resume their hunt for treasure, the boys still possess no luck and uncover nothing but stones. After considering the idea, Tom proposes that they move their digging to the haunted house. After expressing some misgivings about the idea, Huck finally agrees to the plan and the boys begin to walk down the hill toward the dilapidated building. But after arriving halfway toward the house, they turn around and return home through the woods on the rearward side of Cardiff Hill.

Chapter 25 Analysis:

Throughout the novel, Tom and Huck pretend to be pirates and search for treasure: gold, silver, jewels, and every worldly good imaginable. In some ways, this hunt for treasure parallels the plot of the novel; the more the boys dig and search for treasure, the deeper they get themselves into trouble. Their quest for treasure is perhaps symbolic of man's quest for adventure in life. This meaning fits well into the theme of the frontier, which Twain reinforces with his romanticized sense of adventure.

The haunted house becomes a kind of romantic symbol of the mysterious, the spiritual, and the unknown. Overgrown with weeds and with crumbling architecture, Twain's description of the haunted house is reminiscent of his description of the graveyard during the murder scene: both are isolated, full of "dead spirits," and covered in darkness. The boys even foreshadow the following events with the foreboding that the house truly is haunted, imagining a blue light in the window.

Chapter 26 Summary:

Noon the next day, Huck and Tom return to the dead tree to gather the tool they had left behind the night before. Tom is impatient to continue the treasure hunt at the haunted house, but Huck points out that the day is Friday ­ and that Friday is an unlucky day. Instead of resuming their digging, the boys set out to play Robin Hood.

On Saturday afternoon, they return to the dead tree and dig for a short time in their previously made hole, before moving on to the haunted house. After entering the house, they are greeted with an eerie silence and are afraid to venture any further. But after "familiarity modified their fears," Huck and Tom venture upstairs. Not long afterwards, the boys stretch themselves upon the floor after hearing strange voices coming toward the door. With their eyes pressed to knotholes in the floor planks, they watch in anxiety as two men enter the haunted house. One they immediately recognize as the "old deaf and dumb Spaniard" who has loitered around town; but, surprising the boys, the Spaniard begins to speak and they immediately recognize the voice as belonging to Injun Joe!

Using the haunted house as a "hideout," the unknown man and Injun Joe remain until sundown, at which point they decide to leave. But before they depart, the crooks begin to bury a bag filled with over six hundred dollars in silver. Still hiding, Tom and Huck grow ecstatic. But to the amazement of all those in the haunted house, Injun Joe finds a box of buried treasure: an iron-bound box filled with gold coins that is suspected to belong to gang who once were thought to have used the house as an old hideout. After carrying the money and the newfound box with them to stash in their secret hiding place ("Number Two ­ under the cross"), Injun Joe and the man plan a "dangerous job" of revenge as they exit the house. Tom and Huck leave shortly thereafter, contemplating their ill luck and hoping that the "revenge" Injun Joe was planning was not directed toward them.

Chapter 26 Analysis:

When the boys return to the haunted house, they are greeted with "something so weird and grisly about the dead silence," and again, a comparison between the haunted house and the graveyard of chapter eight should be made. Both scenes possess the eerie "silence" that acts as a kind of warning to the two boys, the way a panther is perfectly still before he pounces on his prey. It is the stillness, the lack of "life" that strikes the boys as foreboding. How ironic it is that in all places of extreme isolation, Tom and Huck find themselves in the company of Injun Joe!

When the boys first see Injun Joe, he is wrapped in a serape ­ a traditional Spanish article of clothing ­ and disguised as a deaf and dumb Spaniard. We begin to notice that with his villains, Twain seems to represent an element of the exotic and the foreign. Whether dressed as Injun Joe or a Spaniard, he is never mistaken for a typical inhabitant of St. Petersburg, but rather is presented as out-of-the-ordinary. On a more profound level, we can take Twain's almost too-obvious depiction of Injun Joe and contrast it with the idea that the true villain of the novel is man's inherent malevolence.

Chapter 27 Summary:

The adventures of that day torment Tom in his dreams ­ but it is the thought of so much money that occupies Tom's mind, and not the actions of Injun Joe. Seeking Huck the next day, the boys vow to find Injun Joe's secret hiding place: "Number Two."

Conjecturing that the words "Number Two" referred to a room number, Huck and Tom conclude that Injun Joe is occupying Room Two in a St. Petersburg tavern. With plans to stake out the tavern room and follow Injun Joe, Tom and Huck prepare for their adventure.

Chapter 27 Analysis:

We also see another shift in the plot with the introduction of the buried treasure. Tom's greediness comes out when his eyes feast on the bag of six hundred dollars, so much so that he forgets he would be stealing from a murderous villain. On another level, it is almost unbelievable that there actually is buried gold in the haunted house, showing that even the most outrageous ideas may prove to be true. The recovery of the treasure, then, becomes an integral part of the plot.

Chapter 28 Summary:

That night, Tom and Huck lurk outside the tavern watching the alley next to it as well as the tavern door. Unfortunately, they have no luck that night ­ and have no luck on Tuesday or Wednesday night either. However, Thursday night brings darkness with the coming of storm clouds, and Tom is able to slip out of the house with his aunt's tin lantern and a large towel to mask the light. With Huck waiting outside in the alley, Tom sneaks into the tavern to explore the "haunted room."

After waiting for Tom for a while and becoming fearful of some large catastrophe, Huck is startled when Tom runs out crying: "Run for your life!" The two boys run in a panic, and as they reach the shed of a deserted slaughterhouse the storm broke out in rain. Tom recollects how he had tried the door handle absently, thinking it would be locked. But to his surprise, the unlocked door gave way to reveal a drunken Injun Joe lying across the bed with a bottle of whiskey in one hand. Tom spied no cross or treasure, only a tin cup and "barrels" and "bottles" of whiskey everywhere. Both too scared to return to the tavern, Huck agrees to keep watch over the tavern in the night, and sleep during the day in Ben Roger's hayloft. With the storm clearing, Tom returns home.

Chapter 28 Analysis:

It is important to note that Injun Joe's character is depicted by Twain as extreme. Not only is he a minority, but he is also savage and obsessed with revenge. Similarly, his habits show that he is not law-abiding: he drinks, and represents the epitome of the Christian heathen. One reason why Twain creates such a villainous character is to prevent the reader from expressing any sympathy for him. It is clear that Injun Joe is a "low character" because of his decrepit moral and spiritual worth, rather than because of his social position such as Huck. Thus, when it is established that Injun Joe is a town pariah, there is a clear difference between the murderer and characters that are simply pariahs because they refuse to conform to small-town expectations. Injun Joe falls into play with the theme of dualism: the contrast between "good" and "evil."