Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 4, Chapter 3

By Henry Fielding

Book 4, Chapter 3

Wherein the History Goes Back to Commemorate a Trifling Incident That Happened Some Years Since; But Which, Trifling As it Was, Had Some Future Consequences

  • Sophia is now eighteen years old.
  • Her father, Squire Western, adores her.
  • So when Tom is trying to get Black George a job with Squire Western, he goes to Sophia for help.
  • Sophia, Tom, and Master Blifil have grown up together.
  • Sophia has always preferred Tom over Master Blifil.
  • We jump back a bit further in time: when Tom is just a little kid, he catches a baby bird.
  • He raises the bird to sing and to be tame.
  • And then he gives the bird to Sophia.
  • Sophia immediately loves the tiny bird.
  • She calls it "little Tommy" (4.3.8) and keeps it tied to her hand with a small string.
  • One day, Master Blifil persuades Sophia to hand the bird over to him.
  • And Master Blifil immediately drops the string and lets the bird fly away.
  • Sophia screams, and human-Tom comes running to try and get bird-Tommy back.
  • He climbs up a tree after Tommy.
  • But just before Tom reaches his little bird namesake, one of the tree's branches breaks and Tom falls straight into a pond.
  • Both Sophia and Master Blifil start to scream.
  • The adults (including Squire Allworthy, Squire Western, and Misters Thwackum and Square) all come running.
  • Tom manages to get out of the pond on his own.
  • Mr. Thwackum tries to beat Tom (of course).
  • But Squire Allworthy stops him so they can find out what has happened.
  • Master Blifil confesses that he let Sophia's bird go and that Tom was trying to catch it.
  • Master Blifil says that he suddenly felt it was wrong to keep a bird trapped that way, so he had to release it.
  • Master Blifil swears that he never would have done it if he had known that it would upset Sophia so much. We're using obnoxious amounts of italics here because Master Blifil is so obnoxious.
  • But anyway, says Master Blifil, he saw "little Tommy" get eaten by a hawk. So there's no getting Sophia's little bird back now.
  • As soon as Sophia hears about the death of her little bird, she starts to cry.
  • The boys go home, and the adults hang around to continue their conversation.