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Free Barron's Booknotes-The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
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This chapter has two parts: the discovery and disposition of Injun Joe's body and the recovery of the treasure by Huck and Tom. In each part, Twain addresses the story's remaining questions.

Rescuers head for the cave in twelve rowboats, followed by spectators aboard the ferry. What do you make of the fact that Tom rides alongside Judge Thatcher in a rowboat? Has saving Becky's life brought him to the top of St. Petersburg society?

The discovery of Injun Joe lying dead inside the cave door is the climax of the plot line that tracks his fate. Tom has mixed feelings about the "sorrowful sight." He pities Joe because he imagines how much the trapped man suffered. However, Joe's corpse affords him an immense sense of relief, much as he felt it would back in Chapter 24. You may remember that the idea that Joe might be captured alive frightened Tom, who thought he would feel safe only after viewing Joe's corpse.

Joe had survived by eating bats and candle wax and drinking water that dripped into a cup scooped into the stump of a stalagmite (a deposit of calcium carbonate on the floor of a cave). The drip-amounting to a spoonful every day-prompts Twain to meditate on the possibility that natural laws, not chance, govern all events. "Has everything a purpose and a mission?" he asks. "Did this drop fall patiently during five thousand years to be ready for this flitting human insect's need?"


What does this speculation have to do with the progress of the story or with the interests of Twain's primarily juvenile audience? Very little, it would seem, although it has everything to do with Twain's budding interest in determinist philosophy. In later years, Twain would become fascinated with the doctrine of determinism, which holds that all events have causes and that free will is an illusion. How might the superstitions that Twain sprinkles through Tom Sawyer also indicate his interest in determinism?

Injun Joe's funeral is well attended, both by people who would have preferred him hanged and by those who had been eager to petition the governor for his pardon. Twain reserves special disdain for those who wanted the murderer pardoned. "If he had been Satan himself," Twain says, "plenty of weaklings would have signed a petition to save him.


This satirical swipe lacks the gentleness of much of Twain's humor. Does it strike you, as it does some readers, as overly harsh? Compare its tone with those of Chapter 24, when he satirizes the detective from St. Louis, or Chapter 12, when he mocks Aunt Polly's experiments with Pain-Killer. How is Twain's humor gentler in these cases than here?

The day after the funeral, Tom takes Huck aside and tells him he's sure that the treasure is in the cave. Huck's not sure he has the strength to hunt for it, so Tom offers to row him down and back. This time, Tom is prepared for the cave's perils. The boys assemble bags, pipes, extra kite strings, and "lucifer matches"- wood matches with phosphorous tips that were "new-fangled" in the 1840s.

The boys "borrow" a rowboat and float down to the hole through which Becky and Tom escaped the cave. The hole is so well hidden, Tom has decided to use it as a hideout when he becomes a robber. Once more, he becomes Huck's teacher, explaining the attractions of the robber's life.

Deep inside the cave, the boys come to the corner where Tom had seen Injun Joe. He points out a cross marked on a big rock with candle smoke. The boys explore around the rock and locate the box of gold coins.

Tom and Huck carry the money out of the cave in bags, and Tom rows them back to St. Petersburg. There they decide to hide the money in the Widow Douglas' woodshed. They "borrow" a child's wagon to haul their treasure up Cardiff Hill where they meet Mr. Jones, the Welshman. Mr. Jones tells them that people are waiting for them at the Widow Douglas'. He doesn't say why as he helps them pull the wagon, which he thinks holds scrap metal.

At Mrs. Douglas', he pushes the boys into the drawing room. All of the village's important people are there: the minister, the editor, the Thatchers, and Aunt Polly, among others. The boys are filthy. Mrs. Douglas takes them into a bedroom and gives them new clothes to put on.

What's the purpose of the gathering? Twain doesn't tell you, in order to entice you to turn the page.

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

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