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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
CHAPTER 1: Tom Plays, Fights, and Hides
The chapter opens with Aunt Polly searching everywhere for Tom Sawyer, a boy who is about 10 years old and the son of her dead sister; but Tom is nowhere to be seen. She raises her voice to call out to him when she hears a noise behind her. It is Tom, who has been hiding in the closet in order to secretly eat jam. Aunt Polly catches him and is about to give him a beating when he plays an age old trick on her, telling her to look behind herself. As she turns around, Tom escapes from her grasp and is quickly out of the house. Tom has a wonderful time skipping school, while playing with friends and swimming in the river. When he returns home in the evening, he finishes his daily chores. At supper, his aunt cleverly tries to question him as to what he did throughout the day, but Tom answers her questions, without being trapped. Tomís playing hooky would have escaped discovery and punishment if his half-brother Sid had remained quiet; but Sid drew Aunt Pollyís attention to the fact that Tom's shirt collar was stitched by her in white thread, and now, it is stitched in black. Before his aunt can react, Tom is out of the house while shouting a warning to Sid about interfering.
Once outside, the whistling Tom forgets all his troubles and is happily skipping to meet his friends. Suddenly, he encounters the new boy in town, all dressed up and neat. Tom dislikes the newcomer and they quickly get into a fist-fight. Soon, they are rolling and tumbling in the dirt. Tom emerges the winner, chases the new boy home, and waits for him to emerge again so that they can have a second round of fighting. The cowardly boy teases and makes faces at Tom from the security of his home, but fails to come out again. Tom finally goes home late and enters through the window, only to discover that Aunt Polly is waiting for him to show up.
This opening chapter quickly creates the mood of fun and adventure that characterizes the entire novel. Tom is full of life and mischief, like most young boys that are his age. He is forever tormenting Aunt Polly and playing tricks on her. But the soft- hearted Aunt Polly is never very tough on Tom and seldom is brave enough to sufficiently punish him. Each time Tom escapes from being punished, however, Aunt Polly is stricken by her conscience and fearful that she is not doing her best in raising Tom to be a fine young man. When Tom comes home for supper, after skipping school for the whole day, she tries to question and entrap him; but Tom is too clever for her. He evades all her gentle prodding and would have escaped discovery except for Sidís tattling. As Tom goes out, he shouts warnings to his half- brother. Throughout the novel, this sibling rivalry between Sid and Tom will continue
Tom again escapes from home to loiter in town. He picks a fight with a newcomer to the village, a boy who symbolizes everything that Tom is not; Willie Mufferson, the symbolic "good boy" is well-behaved and well dressed and a total contrast to his adversary, Tom Sawyer. But the author obviously prefers Tom, who fights fairly; by contrast, the new boy throws a stone and hits Tom after he has turned his back.
By the end of the chapter, much detail has been given about Tom and his family. The protagonist of the novel is developed as a lazy, disobedient, strong-willed youth who is also very likable, fun, and mischievous. His Aunt Polly is an old lady with a kind and simple heart who is trying her best to tame her young nephew and raise him properly. Sid, who tries to play the role of the good boy, is presented in negative terms as a tattletale and troublemaker. Ironically, it is Tom who causes the trouble, but the reader is definitely attracted to the spirit of this fun-loving child.