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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
CHAPTER 32: Turn Out! They’re Found
Tom and Becky have been missing for three whole days. The village constantly offers prayers for their safe return; Mrs. Thatcher is emotionally and physically sick; and Aunt Polly’s hair seems to have turned white. On Tuesday at midnight, the church bells start pealing. The people rush out of their homes to find out why they are ringing. They quickly learn that the lost children are back. The village celebrates for the rest of the night.
Tom is again a hero. He narrates to an interested audience how he and Becky got lost. He then explains how he went exploring to find an exit, using his kite string as a guide back to Becky. After several unsuccessful attempts, he finally finds an opening and crawls out. He is delighted to see the Mississippi rolling by! He quickly goes back inside and retrieves Becky. They successfully hail a passing boat. The crew gives them food, lets them rest, and then returns them to town.
Tom and Becky are both ill from the cave adventure and are confined to their beds. By the next Saturday, Tom is recovered enough to go out. He searches for Huck and learns that his friend is still very sick and being tended by the Widow Douglas. She will not allow Tom to tell Huck about the cave adventure until he is well. Tom learns about Huck’s adventure with Injun Joe, when he followed him to the widow’s house. He also learns that Injun Joe’s partner has drowned.
It takes Becky much longer to recover from her time in the cave than it does Tom. He finally goes over to the Thatchers to check on her progress and to visit. He learns from Judge Thatcher that the opening of the cave has been barred and locked so not other children go inside and get lost. On hearing this, Tom goes as white as a sheet. When Judge Thatcher asks him what is the matter with him, he tells the Judge that Injun Joe is in the cave!
The children come back home on Tuesday night. Tom is again the hero to all the townspeople, especially to Becky. He revels in all the attention he receives. With an air of importance, he tells the people how he was able to find a way out of the cave. Becky’s love and admiration for Tom grows as she listens to her savior.
Both the children are sick and must recover after their harrowing experience. Tom bounces back in less than a week and goes to find Huck for an update on what he has missed. He learns that Huck has been very ill and is in the care of the Widow Douglas. He also learns that his friend has had his own adventure with Injun Joe. Becky’s recuperation is much longer. Tom goes to visit her and learns from the Judge that the cave has been sealed and locked. Tom tells the Judge that Injun Joe is inside.
It is important to notice Tom’s reaction to the Judge’s news about the cave. He turns white as a sheet. Even though he hates and fears Injun Joe, he is bothered by the fact that another human being is in the cave and cannot get out. Tom knows firsthand how miserable that feels.
It is also interesting to note that Twain does not spend much time describing the details of the children’s escape and rescue. It is covered in one paragraph, when Tom tells the townspeople about their adventure. Twain has so fully developed the cave incident that he knows the reader will understand the joy of Becky and Tom when they find a way out of the cave. It is needless to state what is automatically implied.