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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
CHAPTER 11: Conscience Racks Tom
Around noon, the whole town is agog with the news of Dr. Robinsonís murder and a holiday is declared for the school. A knife, owned by Muff Potter, is found close to the body. The sheriff of the town declares that the culprit will be caught before nightfall. All the townspeople move towards the graveyard. Tom, putting his misery aside and overcome with curiosity, also goes to the cemetery. On the way, Tom meets Huck but studiously looks away. Both wonder if anyone else has noticed their strange behavior.
Tom spies Injun Joe in the crowd and is scared. Someone in the crowd shouts that Muff Potter is coming towards the graveyard, and everyone decides that they should not allow him to get away. The Sheriff arrives and takes Muff by the arm. A haggard Muff pleads his innocence. Seeing Injun Joe, he turns to him and cries that he had promised not to tell. A dumbfounded Tom and Huck listen to Injun Joeís lies, when he narrates the sequence of events leading to the murder. They think that something sinister is going to take place to Joe because he is lying. When nothing happens, they are convinced that Injun Joe has sold himself to the Devil.
When the townspeople question Potter and ask him why he did not run away when he had the opportunity, he says that he could not commit murder and neither could he stop himself from coming to the graveyard. At the inquest, Injun Joe repeats his earlier statements. Huck and Tom decide to observe Joe closely whenever they have an opportunity to see if they can see the devil with him.
Tom is quite bothered by the murder and Injun Joeís lies. He is constantly restless and spends sleepless nights for almost a week. Sid remarks that Tomís talking in his sleep is keeping him awake. Tom, fearful that he is talking about the murder, becomes as white as a sheet. Aunt Polly notices his reaction and starts questioning him, but Tom says nothing. Sid tells Aunt Polly that Tom has been mentioning something about blood in his sleep. Aunt Polly says that all the talk about the murder has obviously left a deep impression on Tomís mind. Mary also says that the murder has affected her too. From that night onwards, Tom ties up his jaws at bedtime, saying that he has a toothache. Sid, however, would slip the bandage off and listen to Tomís murmuring in his sleep. Sid also notices that Tomís behavior has changed. He is not playing with his friends as usual. Instead, he spends some of his extra time taking small gifts to Muff Potter in jail in an effort to ease his own conscience.
Although Muff is in jail, Injun Joe is still free. The villagers know that the Indian is guilty of robbing the grave, but make no charge against him. They are too afraid of the wicked man.
In this chapter, the small village of St. Petersburg is abuzz with the news of Doc Robinsonís murder, for it is a quiet country town rarely plagued with serious problems or violence. The day after the murder school is dismissed at noon, and the all the curious villagers gather in the graveyard at the scene of the crime. Tom, driven by a morbid curiosity, also goes to the cemetery. On his way, he meets Huck, but both of them avoid speaking to one other. They realize that they are the only two people who know the truth about the murder, and they are both guilty for not revealing the truth to the Sheriff.
Muff Potterís bloody knife is found at the scene of the crime, and when he arrives in the graveyard, the sheriff arrests him. He is pictured by Twain in this scene as a weak, fearful man who is unnerved by the murder and unsure of his part in it. Injun Joe, who is also present, makes a statement to the Sheriff that it was indeed Muff Potter who killed the doctor. Both Huck and Tom are horrified at the blatant lie of this wicked and ruthless man. As children, they have been taught not to tell lies and warned that if they did, they would face dire consequences. They wait for something sinister to happen to Injun Joe for lying; they expect him to be knocked down by lightning or something else. When nothing happens to Injun Joe, their faith is shaken to its very roots. At the inquest, Injun Joe repeats that it was Potter who murdered Dr. Robinson. Tom and Huck are now convinced that Injun Joe has sold his soul to Satan and decide to watch Joe closely in hopes of spying the devil with him.
The murder and the succeeding events leave a deep impact on Tomís already guilty feelings. He knows that he should not remain silent about the murder, but he also fears the revenge of Injun Joe and breaking his blood oath with Huck. He is so bothered by his conscience that he starts mumbling and muttering in his sleep. Sid promptly brings this to his auntís notice. She thinks that it is simply due to all the talk about the murder and does not suspect that Tom knows something more about it. To ease his troubled conscience, Tom takes small gifts to Muff in jail, for which Muff is very grateful.
In this chapter, Sid is portrayed as interfering and sneaky. He knows that Tom has a secret, and he wants to find out what it is. He tells Aunt Polly about Tomís talking about blood in his sleep, and he takes off Tomís jaw bandage so he can hear more of what Tom is hiding. As always, he hopes to get Tom into trouble with his aunt so that he can take pleasure in Tomís punishment. The sibling rivalry between the two boys is obviously very strong.