The novel opens with Aunt Polly searching for Tom Sawyer, the young protagonist of the novel who, along with his younger brother Sidney, was sent to live in St. Petersburg, Missouri, after his mother's death. After hearing no answer to her calls, Polly finds Tom eating out of the jam closet. Tom escapes Aunt Polly's beating by diverting her attention, leading Polly into a tirade against Tom's irreverent ways. During dinner, Aunt Polly tries to trick Tom into admitting that he played hooky from school that day to go swimming. But Tom, aware of Aunt Polly's motives, has sewn his shirt collar back in place after his afternoon swim. Aunt Polly apologizes to Tom for her suspicions, until Sidney - notorious for being "the Model Boy of the village" - points out that Tom's shirt is sewn together with black thread instead of the white thread that Aunt Polly had used that morning. Before she can punish him, Tom darts out the door and runs away from the house. On the street, Tom runs into a well-dressed boy with a "citified air about him that ate into Tom's vitals." After a verbal fight, Tom and the nameless boy begin to throw fists at each other until Tom is finally victorious. Tom returns home late in the evening by climbing through the window... but Aunt Polly catches him in the act. Chapter 2 Summary:
On Saturday morning, Tom is forced to whitewash the fence outside the house as punishment for his behavior the night before. The day is beautiful, making the chore seem even more dreadful; in fact, Tom would rather do Jim's - the black servant's - chores than whitewash the fence. Tom begins the job and imagines how all the "free boys" who come skipping by will make fun of him for having to do work on a Saturday. In perhaps one of the most famous scenes of the novel, Tom tricks the neighborhood boys into completing his entire chore. Tom pretends to love whitewashing, putting fake enthusiasm into his work. "Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?" Tom asks. Soon, all the neighborhood boys beg Tom for the chance to whitewash in exchange for small trinkets. In conclusion, Tom contends "that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do." Chapter 3 Summary:
For the time remaining of that Saturday, Tom is in good spirits, playing in a mock battle with his band of friends. Afterwards, he passes by Jeff Thatcher's house and notices a "lovely little blue-eyed creature with yellow hair" with whom he instantly falls in love, so much so that the girl he was in love with the week before - Amy Lawrence - is completely out of his heart. Until suppertime, Tom lingers in front of the Thatcher house, "showing off" by doing various gymnastic tricks, hoping that the little girl inside the house will see him. During supper, however, Tom's moods are lowered when Aunt Polly raps his knuckles for attempting to steal sugar. When Sid reaches for the sugar-bowl behind Polly's back, he drops the bowl onto the floor. When Aunt Polly returns, she immediately begins to beat Tom. When she learns that it was Sid who was at fault, she doesn't apologize but instead justifies her beating, though inside she longs to say something loving to Tom. Tom, conscious of his Aunts ruefulness yet refusing to acknowledge it, wallows in self-pity. He imagines his own funeral, and begins to cry to himself, reflecting that he leaves the house when his cousin Mary enters the house, unable to withstand any ounce of happiness. He proceeds to wander through the streets, contemplating who would miss him when he died. Would the lovely "Adored Unknown" from this afternoon miss him? Presently, he wanders to her house, and stares up at her window, imagining the little girl crying over his lifeless body. But his imagination is interrupted by the maidservant who dumps a bucket of water out the window, and the drenched Tom Sawyer returns home. Chapter 4 Summary:
On Sunday morning, Tom has...