Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Several small and yet crucial incidents take place. Tom continues living in Squire Western’s house for some time. It is obvious that he enjoyed his stay, because of Sophia's proximity. We see that Squire Western is very fond of Tom. But, later we learn that this liking is not strong enough for the Squire to consider Tom as husband material for his daughter, Sophia.
There is a sudden development and that is Squire Allworthy’s illness. Tom rushes to the Squire’s bedside Tom genuinely loves his benefactor and is very worried about his health. The Squire’s health had deteriorated suddenly, owing to lack of care. He collects every member of the house around his bed in a very typical ‘about to die’ style. The Squire is a mature, balanced man who is not afraid of death. He is ready to face it bravely and is competent enough to draw a rational will. The Squire appears to be a fair-minded person, who caters for all members in his will. In the response to the Squire’s will, we note the various kinds of persons and their characteristics. Mrs. Deborah Wilkins, Squire and Thwackum are selfish and materialistic. All three complain that they should have been granted more by the Squire. It is in their response that we note the hypocrisy of their characters. In contrast Tom is concerned about the Squire and not about how much he will gain from his will and his death. Tom is truly generous, whereas some others in the novel merely claim to be good, but are not so.
At this time a messenger arrives from Salisbury. He informs Blifil about his mother’s death. When we read this little occurrence we do not give it much thought. The relevance of this particular incident is revealed in another book. The messengers, as we later learn is an attorney called Dowling. He had also given a letter to Blifil, for Squire Allwrothy. But it is only much later, that we learn that this letter never reaches the Squire. If Allworthy had read the letter, Tom’s history would have been otherwise. The letter contained the vital information that Tom is in reality Squire Allworthy's nephew. Blifil on reading this must have decided to hide this secret from the Squire. The Squire learns about the undelivered letter from Dowling, towards the end of the novel. When the Squire does realize Blifil’s malevolency, he feels even more sympathetic towards Tom.
He develops restraint eventually, in order to become capable of marrying Sophia. She, on the other hand, had always been prudent, and unlike Tom, has no other affairs. In this manner, Fielding’s hero is believable. Tom is not a perfect paragon of virtue and has his faults. He has to overcome them to be successful in romance as well as otherwise.
Thwackum and Blifil have a physical fight with Tom. Tom is honorable and chivalrous enough to want to hide his lover Molly from the other men’s accusing eyes.
Sophia faints on seeing blood and violence. She is an archetypal delicate female prototype. Tom’s affection for Sophia is getting apparent now - he leaves Blifil to come to Sophia’s aid. She doesn’t realize his tender caresses because she is quite faint. Her tender constitution must have received on even larger blow by the information that Tom had been with a ‘wench’ in the woods. Squire Western makes fun of Tom’s sexual exploits. He is a robust and loud man himself.
Tom once again joins the Westerns for dinner. He does this for Sophia’s company more than anything else. We, as readers begin to question his emotional integrity when we see how easily he gets carried away with Molly.