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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
CHAPTER 31: Found and Lost Again
The story returns in time to Tom and Becky in the cave. The naturally curious Tom has wanted to see some unexplored portions of the cave. Becky willingly goes with him, and the two wander away from the group. They are soon frightened by some flying bats and begin to run. They then realize that they are hopelessly lost. Becky is scared and starts crying. Tom, however, puts up a brave face and determines he will somehow find a way out. He blows out Becky’s candle in order to conserve light. They travel by the small light of Tom’s candle and seem to get nowhere. Finally, Becky can go no further and falls to sleep.
When they get up again, Tom, continuing to act maturely and wisely, locates a spring of water so they will have something to drink. He also tells Becky that they must follow beside the spring, for they do not have much more candle light, and the path of the spring can help to lead them in the dark. They try to cheer themselves by believing rescuers will soon find them. Then it suddenly dawns on Becky that they will probably not missed until the next day since she was to have stayed at the Harpers for the night.
Hearing a voice, Tom decides to explore a little without Becky, hoping to find a person or an exit. He ties his kite line to her location and then moves forward with the string as his guide back. Before he has gone too far, he spies a man holding a candle. When he realizes it is Injun Joe, Tom screams loudly and frightens the Indian away. Tom returns to Becky and does not tell her about seeing Injun Joe.
The children are growing quite hungry and weak. Becky is sure she is going to die soon and makes Tom promise to hold her hand when the end comes. Tom gives her a kiss and then makes another attempt at finding an exit.
The children are lost and scared. Their adventure has turned into a nightmare. Tom bravely decides that he is going to find a way out of the cave, all the time reassuring Becky that he will keep her safe and see that no harm comes to her. She, however, cannot be consoled and is positive they will die soon.
The children face many dangers. They have eaten the only food that they had with them -- one small piece of cake; with no ability to get additional food, they face starvation if not rescued. In addition, they have no more light, since their candles have burned down; the cave, filled with crevices and drops, is a dangerous place to traverse in total darkness. There are also bats flying throughout, which adds to the eeriness of the scene. The greatest danger of all, however, is the discovery that Injun Joe is in the cave with them. Tom is so frightened by this knowledge that he does not even share it with Becky.
Throughout the chapter, Twain shows Tom acting in a mature fashion. He accepts full responsibility for getting Becky and himself lost and is determined to get them out of the cave safely. He never panics, puts on a brave face, and tries his hardest. He tries to comfort and cheer Becky and lets her stop and rest when she is weary. He blows out her candle and travels by the light of only one in order to conserve light. He knows they must have water, so he finds a spring from which they can drink. He also knows that the spring may help them find their way when they have no more light. When Becky is too tired to go on, he lets her rest, while he searches for a way out. Wisely, he uses a kite string as a guide back to Becky. When he spies Injun Joe in the cave, he does not tell Becky, wanting to spare her from the additional fear. In spite of the Indian’s presence in the cave, Tom does not give up hope, but continues to look for an exit.
It is important to notice that Injun Joe’s presence in the cave helps to unify the entire novel. There have been two main plots running throughout the story, one centering on Huck, Tom, and Injun Joe, and the other centering on Becky and Tom. Now Becky is drawn into the Injun Joe drama, so that the two different plot lines come together as a whole. Injun Joe’s presence also adds great drama to an already tense situation in the cave.