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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
CHAPTER 7: Tick Running and Heart break
Tom, back in his usual seat in class, cannot concentrate for thinking about Becky. Suddenly he remembers that he has a tick in his pocket and takes it out to play with. His friend Joe Harper, who is sitting next to him, joins Tom in tormenting the tick. Soon, they draw a line in the middle of the desk, each taking one side and promising not to cross the line. Joe breaks the rules of the game, and Tom starts an argument with him. They do not even notice that the other students leave for lunch. The teacher finally breaks up their argument and punishes both of them.
Tom rushes out of class to find Becky. He tells her to meet him at the bottom of the lane after lunch so that they can come back to school and begin her drawing lessons. During the lesson, Tom loses interest in the art. He turns to Becky and suggests that they get engaged. When Becky hesitates, Tom declares that he is in love with her and an engagement is proper. She admits she loves him too, and they then seal the engagement with a kiss. They also make a pact that they will be true to each other forever and always go to parties and picnics together. Becky is thrilled by this turn of events. Tom, however, bungles things when he lets it slip that he has been in love with Amy Lawrence before. Becky is heart-broken at the news and runs away in tears. Tom catches up and tries to pacify her, saying that Amy was in the past and that he now cares only for her. When she refuses to listen to him, Tom takes out one of his most treasured possessions - a brass knob - and gives it to her. She throws it on the floor, an action that disgusts Tom. He simply walks away and does not bother to return to school in the afternoon. Becky feels lonely and sad for the rest of the day, wishing she could make up with Tom.
In this chapter, Twain again shows Tom getting into trouble. Bored by school, he takes the tick out of his pocket, and he and his friend Joe play a game with it. They are so engrossed in what they are doing, they forget they are in the classroom and begin arguing with one another. This obviously attracts the attention of the teacher, and both boys are punished. It is Tomís third whipping of the morning. The teacher is a strict disciplinarian who punishes his students harshly and frequently. It is no wonder that Tom does not enjoy school.
Tomís impetuous nature is also seen in the incident with Becky. Unable to keep his mind on the drawing lesson that he is giving her, Tom declares his love for her and suggests that they become engaged. With some persuasion, Becky reticently agrees, and they seal the engagement with an innocent kiss. Becky soon learns, however, that Tom has been in love before. She feels betrayed by his fickleness and runs away crying. Tom catches up with her and tries to make up. He even offers her his most prized possession, which she refuses. Tom is so upset that he leaves school for the rest of the day.
The interchange between Becky and Tom develops both characters. Tom is portrayed as a wise young man, who "knows the ropes" from being in love before. In the space of a couple of days, he falls in love with Becky, attracts her attention, confesses his love for her, and cleverly wins her love. It has not been an easy conquest, for Becky is a shy and proper young lady who has never been in love before. She has to be persuaded to confess her love for Tom and to give him a kiss. Since she has never done such things before, she takes it all very seriously. When Tom lets it slip that he has been in love before, she cries and grows angry. She is so stubborn that she will not even make up with Tom when he offers his brass knob as a token of forgiveness. Tom is hurt by her rejection. He uses it as an excuse to skip school for the rest of the day.
Twain spends a great deal of time in developing the relationship between Becky and Tom because it becomes an important part of Tomís maturing process later in the novel.