The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Summary and Analysis of Chapters 29-35

Chapter 29 Summary:

On Friday morning, Tom is greeted with the news that Judge Thatcher's family has come back to town the night before. Becky's mother has invitations out for a picnic the next day and Tom eagerly awaits the event. Becky now occupies most of Tom's thoughts, pushing the idea of treasure and Injun Joe to the back of his mind. No signal from Huck comes that night.

Morning comes and the children leave for the picnic. Becky's mother, worried that the children would not return until late that night, advise that Becky stay with Susy Harper, who lives near the ferry landing. Three miles below town, the ferryboat stops at the mouth of a "woody hollow" and the day's tiring activities are met with a feast. After their appetites have been satisfied, the party moves on toward McDougal's cave. Chilly, gloomy, yet romantic and mysterious, the solid limestone structure is a "vast labyrinth of crooked aisles that ran into each other and out again and led nowhere." According to Twain, "no man Œknew' the cave," but Tom Sawyer knew it as much as anyone. After returning from adventurous clambering inside the cave, the picnickers returned on the ferryboat back to the shores of St. Petersburg. In the meantime, Tom convinces Becky to disobey her mother and visit the Widow Douglas for ice cream, rather than return to Susy Harper's house for the night.

Meanwhile, at eleven o'clock, Huck is beginning to become restless, with no sign of life near the tavern. Suddenly, he hears a noise but decides it is too late to run and call for Tom. Instead, Huck follows two men who are carrying a box under their arm ­ presumably the box of treasure. Moving up the river street, turning left, going up Cardiff Hill and past the old Welshman's house, Huck follows the dark figures until they stop in the wood right outside Widow Douglas's house. The lights are on inside the house, indicating that the widow has company. Huck realizes at that moment that Injun Joe's dangerous "revenge" job is to seek harm on the Widow Douglas. Injun Joe proceeds to describe to the Spaniard how the widow's late husband had ordered him to be horsewhipped "like a nigger" in front of the jail a long time ago; as revenge, Joe intends on "slit[ting] her nostrils" and "notch[ing] her ears like a sow!"

Huck, remembering times when the widow had bestowed her kindness upon him, makes his way out of the wood to the old Welshman's door. At first hesitant to open his door to Huck, the Welshman realizes that Huck "has got something to tell" and lets Huck enter. Huck tells the Welshman and his two sons all that he knows, with the promise that they will not divulge his identity. Three minutes later, the old man and his sons are at the widow's house; first silence, then an explosion of firearms and a cry ensues in the dark. Huck flees the scene.

Chapter 29 Analysis:

The introduction of MacDougal's Cave is important to the novel, particularly because it plays a prominent role in the coming events. Twain describes the cave a as "labyrinth underneath labyrinth, and no end to any of them." The cave, like the haunted house and the graveyard, is another very dramatic location that Twain chooses for the novel. Caves often symbolize mystery and fantasy because in traditional fairy tales and stories, they house gnomes, dragons, and treasure. Similarly, caves often contain secret passageways that run to the underworld, a place of darkness. Here, Twain sets up the cave as a perfect setting for Tom's final adventure of the novel.

In examining Injun Joe's character, it is observed that he is almost a personification of savagery. What makes Injun Joe a unique character in the story is that he never expresses any signs of remorse or regret; his obsession with revenge has driven him to ignore his conscience altogether. He may only be seeking justice on past crimes, but does so selfishly and only with personal gratification ­ rather than moral or ethical reasoning ­ in mind.

In chapter twenty-nine, there is also a shift between characters when the plot begins to focus mainly on the adventures of Huck, who becomes the hero of this chapter and the next. Though he is considered one of the town's social pariahs, Huck not only comes to the widow's aid but also recalls that she had always been kind to him. We see that the juvenile is not quite the delinquent that his reputation makes him out to be, though even the Welshman is hesitant about opening his door to such a straggler.

Chapter 30 Summary:

The chapter begins with Huck knocking on the door of the Welshman, who eagerly welcomes Huck in for breakfast. The old Welshman retells the events of the night before to an anxious Huck. The old man and his sons had crept up to within fifteen feet of the villains before the old man let out a sneeze, breaking their silence. Soon thereafter, they fired away and the villains fired back ­ but their shots were inconsequential. The villains were able to escape (also leaving behind their burglar's tools), but a posse and the sheriff had been assembled to patrol the riverbanks and the woods. Because the wood was so dark the night before, no one was able to steal a good look at the villains, and the old Welshman asks Huck if he could see what the two men looked like.

After the old man promises to secrecy once more, Huck tells how he had followed the two men from the tavern that night. He contrives most of his story, attempting to hide details such as the box of treasure and the identity of Injun Joe; instead, Huck simply describes Injun Joe as the deaf and dumb Spaniard. But Huck leaves several holes and discrepancies in his story, particularly when he inadvertently blurts out that the "deaf and dumb" Spaniard can speak. Realizing that the old man, who is urging Huck to tell the truth, is honest and sincere, Huck blurts out: "Tain't a Spaniard ­ it's Injun Joe!"

After breakfast, several citizens ­ including the Sheriff and the Widow Douglas ­ come to visit the old Welshman. The widow is outspoken with gratitude toward the old man, who tells her that there is another, who is to remain nameless, which she is to be more grateful toward. All the visitors are curious as to the identity of the nameless hero.

Back in town, everybody arrives early to church to discuss the incidents of last night. Presently, Becky's mother and Aunt Polly approach Mrs. Harper, assuming that Tom and Becky have stayed overnight with Susy and Joe Harper. But it is soon discovered that both Tom and Becky have not been seen since the picnic. Fear arises that the two children, whom no one had seen on the ferry ride home last night, are still missing within McDougal's cave.

For the next three days and nights, Becky and Tom are still missing. The town has formed search parties and the depths of the cave are being ransacked in hopes of finding the children. On the wall of the cave ­ in an area far from the normal cave trails ­ the names "Becky & Tom" are traced in candle smoke and a small piece of ribbon is found nearby.

Meanwhile, Huck has fallen ill with fever. With the old Welshman aiding the search party at the cave, the Widow Douglas is taking care of a bed-ridden and delirious Huckleberry. Huck inquires about Temperance Tavern, where Injun Joe last resided. The Widow informs him that the tavern has been shut down after liquor was found. Huck, unaware that Tom is missing, assumes that the treasure has been lost and falls back asleep.

Chapter 30 Analysis:

When Huck knocks on the Welshman's door, he is greeted with the unfamiliar words: "[Huck] is a name that can open this door night or day, lad! ­ and welcome!" How surprising that Huck, who was held in contempt by every "sociable" of St. Petersburg, is now welcome in any respectable household! But Huck's reputation as a delinquent is only superficial; we see from his good deed that he has perhaps more courage and ethics than many other men. In the novel, Twain is careful not to make any judgments on his characters based on their wealth or social position; rather, he evaluates each rationally based on their intellectual, spiritual, and moral worth. With snobbery aside, Huck commands respect from the reader because of his genuine sincerity and consideration for others.

Meanwhile, the reader is informed that Tom and Becky are missing, lost in McDougal's Cave. Again, Tom "dies" for a second time and the idea of the cave as labyrinth for finding oneself comes into play when the Widow says to herself: "Pity but somebody could find Tom Sawyer!" In analyzing her statement, the reader should be clued that Tom's adventures within the cave is not only a physical trial, but also an emotional one. It is MacDougal's Cave where Tom must "find himself."

Chapter 31 Summary:

Chapter 31 begins four days back, with Becky and Tom exploring McDougal's Cave at the time of the picnic. Tom and Becky play hide-and-seek games with the other children before growing weary and wandering off through the cave, reading the names and messages inscribed on the limestone walls with candle smoke. After smoking their own names into the wall, Tom comes across a narrow passageway leading downwards, and they wind down the newfound path into the depths of the cave, making smoke marks once in a while for future guidance. Shortly, they come to an enclosure where thousands of bats hang from the ceiling; quickly running to escape the creatures, Tom and Becky run wildly into random "corridors" and passageways, keeping no track of which they've turned. Finally, the two children outrun the bats and stop to rest.

Presently, they begin to realize how they've lost track of time ­ and that they can no longer hear the voices of the other picnickers. Deciding to avoid the bats, Tom suggests that they try to find a different way out of the cave. But with each passageway and turn they make, nothing looks familiar and both are aware that they are lost deep within McDougal's Cave. The children continue on, with Tom occasionally blowing out Becky's candle to conserve the wick. Fatigue and hunger overtake the children, and soon, they are forced to remain stationary by a source of water after their last bit of candle burns out. After sharing a piece of cake that Tom has kept stashed in his pocket, Tom explores side passages ­ as Becky rests ­ using kite string as his guide.

Passing through one passageway, Tom sees a human figure and shouts, only to see that the startled figure belongs to Injun Joe. With the echo of the cave masking Tom's voice, the shout sends Injun Joe running. Tom returns to where Becky is situated, and mentions nothing of the incident in order to spare her more worry. He continues to search the passageways with the kite string, putting his fear of starvation above his fear of the villainous Injun Joe.

Chapter 31 Analysis:

When the story flashes back to Tom and Becky in the MacDougal's cave, the two children do not yet realize that they are lost. However, after an initial period of panic, it is Tom who comes through in their time of need. Perhaps because he feels the need to protect Becky or perhaps because he feels responsible for their situation, Tom seems to undergo a metamorphosis into a mature and accountable "man." As they move aimlessly, it is Tom who conserves their last candle, who comforts Becky, and who is still rational enough to find a source of water to stay near.

One of the more pertinent symbols in the chapter is that of the candle. Again, Twain uses the dichotomy of light versus dark; here the candle becomes a symbol of the children's last flickering hope of being rescued. Serving as their only illumination in the dark depth of the cave, it allows them to "see" both with their eyes and with their minds; the candle is the ultimate representation of clarity and hope. When the last bit of wax melts, both Becky and Tom are famished and "woe-stricken." The only reason Tom has for continuing his search for a way out is to pass the idle time.

One thing that is important to consider is how Tom reacts to seeing Injun Joe inside the cave. Unlike a few days ago, Tom seems less worried that Injun will seek revenge on him. Despite his own fears, he realizes that starvation is a much more pressing problem. Thus, in the face of peril, Tom learns to overcome his fear of Injun Joe.

Chapter 32 Summary:

On Tuesday afternoon, the entire town of St. Petersburg is in melancholy spirits: searchers had given up, public prayers had been said, and both Mrs. Thatcher and Aunt Polly are heartbroken. But that night, the village bells begin to ring and the town is awakened with cries of: "Turn out! They're found! They're found!" The whole village is "illuminated" with activity and light ­ Becky and Tom are home!

That night, Tom told the entire story of their adventure to an eager audience: how he had left Becky and went exploring the cave; how his kite-line had stretched as far as it could go; how he was about to turn back before he spotted a "far-off speck that looked like daylight." Pushing through a small hole in the cave wall, Tom had been able to see the Mississippi River and was able to return into the cave to save Becky.

Both children are bed-ridden after fighting through three days of "toil and hunger." Tom learns of Huck's sickness and is allowed to visit him the following Monday, provided that he not stir the sick boy with his adventurous tale. Meanwhile, Tom also learns that the "ragged man's" body ­ the body of Injun Joe's accomplice ­ had been found in the river near the ferry landing. A fortnight after his rescue, Tom visits Becky at Judge Thatcher's house. After talking with the Judge and his friends, Tom learns that the Judge had ordered the cave door to be sheathed with iron and triple-locked to prevent any others from wandering in. Upon hearing the news, Tom immediately turns "as white as a sheet" and informs the company: "Oh, Judge, Injun Joe's in the cave!"

Chapter 32 Analysis:

As Tom tells his story of their adventures in Becky's cave, it is interesting to note the syntax and diction used by Twain when giving Tom a "voice." The narrations of Tom are very distinct because the syntax is simple, yet very drawn-out. Just as if Tom were anxiously telling a story, each sentence extends for several lines. Not only is the diction very simple, but also each sentence is constructed merely by a string of clauses, with repetition of the word "how." We see that Twain uses these stylistic methods to depict Tom's voice, whereas adult "voices" tend to be more constructed and complex.

Chapter 33 Summary:

News has spread of Injun Joe and when the cave door is unlocked, the villain lay there stretched upon the ground, dead of starvation. His bowie knife is by his side, broken in two from his attempts to chip at the cave door. The prisoner had managed to catch a few bats, collect meager droplets of water, and had eaten the bits of candle wax left behind by tourists. A great deal of relief comes across Tom, but he is touched by the sight ­ for he could imagine from his own experience the manner in which Injun Joe perished.

Injun Joe is buried at the mouth of the cave, and his death brings the stop of a petition to the Governor for Injun Joe's pardon. Even though Injun Joe was believed to have killed five citizens of the village, the petition had been largely signed. Writes Twain: "If [Injun Joe] had been Satan himself there would have been plenty of weaklings ready to scribble their names to a pardon petition, and drip a tear on it from their permanently impaired and leaky waterworks."

After the burial, Tom and Huck steal away from the crowd to talk. Huck reveals that it was he who had followed Injun Joe from the tavern to the widow's house. Tom, in turn, surprises Huck by announcing that he knows the whereabouts of the treasure. Betting all his worldly possession that the treasure is hidden in McDougal's cave, Tom convinces Huck to return to the cave and fetch it. The two boys take a skiff down the river and enter the cave through the tiny hole that Tom and Becky had previously climbed out of. Leading Huck through the familiar passageways, Tom stops at the large rock, inscribed with a cross made from candle smoke, where he had encountered Injun Joe inside the cave. After digging in the clay earth, the boys uncover the box of money, transport the money into bags, and head back to town.

Back on shore, the boys place the bags of money in a borrowed wagon, cover it with rags, and continue on their way. In front of the Welshman's house, the old man ­ Mr. Jones ­ drags Huck and Tom to the Widow Douglas's. Leaving the wagon of money outside at the door, the boys are ushered in, given clean clothes, and ordered to clean themselves.

Chapter 33 Analysis:

The death of Injun Joe seems to bring some sort of closure to the novel as a whole. Twain himself expresses this sense of conclusion when he stops, in a moment of philosophical thought, to describe the drop that falls from the stalagmite in the cave, broken off by Injun Joe. "That drop was falling when the Pyramids were new; when Troy fell; when the foundations of Rome were laid; when Christ was Crucified." Twain describes the history of time and wonders whether the single drop was meant to be for Injun Joe's need. He asks the rhetorical question: "Has everything a purpose and a mission?" The author may be questioning his own work, now at a close, asking both himself and the reader what they may draw from the story told.

Similarly, Twain presents the fickle nature of men when he describes the petition for Injun Joe's pardon. "If he had been Satan himself," says Twain, there would have been people to cry over him and sign a petition to pardon the devil himself. It is odd that Twain should include the detail about the petition, for until that point, the story seems to conclude with a rather happy and just ending. Instead, there is distinct tone of pessimism in his statement. Perhaps it is the author's intent to show that justice is often betrayed by man's own cowardice and stupidity.

Also in this chapter, Tom seems to resort back to his immature ways, similar to his "relapse" of chapter twenty-two. Even after Judge Thatcher has ordered that no body enter the cave and even after Tom's own near-death experience, he returns to McDougal's cave with Huck to gather the stash of hidden treasure. Tom still dreams of being a robber, even hiding a bunch of Injun Joe's old tools to use for play. The question becomes: Has Tom really matured ?

Chapter 34 Summary:

As Huck and Tom wash up, Sid informs them that this gathering is one of Widow Douglas's parties to thank the old Welshman and his sons. Sid also reveals that Mr. Jones is going to reveal his secret about Huck tracking the robbers; but the surprise will be lessened because Sid has already leaked out the secret.

At the supper table, Mr. Jones tells the tale of Huck and the robbers, and Huck becomes the target for the guests' gratitude and praise. The widow continues on to say that she intends to provide Huck with a home, an education, and a career. Presently, Tom blurts out: "Huck don't need it. Huck's rich." In response to everyone's laughter, Tom proceeds to drag the wagon from outside and uncover the bags of money: half of it his, and the other half belonging to Huck. Upon inquiry, Tom tells the entire story without interruption. The guests count the money, which amounts to a little over twelve thousand dollars ­ more than any one present had ever seen.

Chapter 34 Analysis:

To express her gratitude toward Huck, the Widow Douglas decides to take him under her wing, meaning to "give Huck a home under her roof and have him educatedŠ and start him in businessŠ" With the closing chapters of the novel, Huck is introduced into the adult world, the world of the respectable society members who once rejected him as an outcast. With Tom there is an immense desire to grow up quickly: he wishes to be engaged and married, tries to act mature, and be incorporated into adult society. However, Huckleberry Finn wishes the exact opposite: his integration into respectable society is equated with restriction.

Chapter 35 Summary:

The good fortune of Tom and Huck causes quite a commotion in the small town of St. Petersburg. Tom and Huck are courted and admired everywhere and the village paper even publishes biographies about the boys. Judge Thatcher, too, holds Tom in high esteem, saying that no other boy could have rescued his daughter from the cave. Becky even tells her father, who had nothing but praise for Tom, in confidence how Tom had taken a whipping for her at school.

Huck Finn's wealth and association with the widow drags him into society: forced to eat with utensils, dress in clean clothes, and attend school. After three weeks, Huck runs away. Tom later finds Huck in an old hogsheads behind the empty slaughterhouse. Tom convinces Huck that in order to be in Tom Sawyer's Gang, the boys would have to be respectable robbers ­ high class. There could be no low characters in the gang. With that, Tom convinces Huck to return to the Widow Douglas.

The adventures end with a conclusion from the author: "[This chronicle] being strictly the history of a boy, it must stop here; the story could not go much further without becoming the history of a man."

Chapter 35 Analysis:

In the concluding chapter of the novel, we see that even if Tom is not emotionally ready to enter the adult order, he is being forced to. Judge Thatcher hopes to see Tom become a lawyer or soldier, saying he will see that Tom is admitted to the "National Military Academy." Already, the expectations of others are being imposed upon him. When he runs across Huckleberry Finn, we see that Tom's willingness to conform is not because he has a newfound sense of responsibility; rather, Tom is still interested in appearing noble, not wanting to be a "low character."

When Twain finally ends The Adventures of Tom Sawyer with the clause that going any further would make it the "history of a man," he implies that even the most childish of sorts ­ those who embody imagination, ingenuity, and innocence ­ must grow up.