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Free Barron's Booknotes-The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
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A good-for-nothing, Potter acts kindly toward the boys, sharing his fish with them and fixing their kites. He gets drunk often enough to believe that he might not have remembered killing Dr. Robinson at the graveyard. He seems too mild-mannered to hold a grudge, and he is not at all angry to learn that Tom waited weeks before revealing the evidence that saved him from the gallows.

Potter's real-life counterpart seems to have been Benson, the older brother of Tom Blankenship (the model for Huck). Like Potter, "Bence" Blankenship was treated as an outcast by Hannibal's adults. Many of Hannibal's children, on the other hand, viewed him as a friend.



The widow of St. Petersburg's justice of the peace, she is a hospitable and attractive woman in her early forties. She likes children, and they visit her often. She nurses Huck back from his illness and agrees to take him under her roof. When Huck disappears, she is so distressed that she spends two days hunting for him.

Twain modeled the widow after Mrs. Richard Holliday, a wealthy woman who lived on Holliday's Hill (Cardiff Hill in the novel). As a boy, Twain watched her shoot and kill a man who had gone to her house to assault her.


Becky's father, a county judge, is highly respected by the villagers, one of whom is St. Petersburg's lawyer Thatcher, Jeff's father. An authoritative figure, he is given the seat of honor when he visits the Sunday school. He leads the search for Becky and Tom and heads the party that discovers Injun Joe dead in the cave.


A young physician, Robinson makes the fatal mistake of asking Injun Joe-whom he had once refused to feed-to help him rob a grave. His counterpart in Twain's youth was Dr. E. D. McDowell, who ran a medical school in St. Louis and stole corpses for his students to study.


The Welshman who lives with his sons on Cardiff Hill, he rushes to the widow's aid when Huck alerts him. He promises Huck he won't tell who alerted him and remains true to his word. After Injun Joe is found dead, however, he reveals Huck's part in the episode. He is thought to be based on John Davies, a bookseller in Hannibal.


The schoolmaster, frustrated in his attempt to become a doctor, is not a happy man. He vents his unhappiness on his students, who avenge themselves on "Examination Night" by having a cat pull off his wig in front of the audience. The schoolmaster in Twain's time was J. B. Dawson, whose son, Theodore, was Hannibal's "model boy."


A newcomer from St. Louis, Temple is a snob who wears shoes on weekdays, while all the other boys go barefoot. He is briefly Tom's rival for Becky's affections. Spurned, he turns into a sneak and pours ink on Tom's spelling book.


Tom's best friend, Joe accompanies Tom and Huck to Jackson's Island. He is the first of the three to admit to homesickness.

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Free Barron's Booknotes-The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

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