Study Guide

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Chapter 1

By Mark Twain

Chapter 1

  • "Tom!" That's how it begins.
  • Old Aunt Polly is looking for her rascal of a nephew, Tom Sawyer, but he can't be found.
  • She looks inside and out before finding in snooping around in the closet. He's caught red-handed and, uh, red-mouthed. He's been stealing jam from the pantry.
  • Tom, ever the clever one, pulls the old "Look out behind you!" trick and it works.
  • He hops over a fence while Aunt Polly curses herself for falling for such a stupid ploy.
  • After playing hooky all day, Tom helps Jim, a young slave, chop wood. Well, Tom mostly talks about his adventures, while his annoying, well-mannered half-brother Sid does his chores. The Jim mentioned here is not, it should be noted, the same Jim that appears in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
  • Over dinner, Aunt Polly interrogates Tom – she has a feeling he didn't go to school – but he manages to evade all her questions while also stealing sugar from the sugar bowl.
  • Sid tattles on Tom, but not before Tom can make his way out the door.
  • He leaves the house, whistling away his troubles, until he happens on a well-dressed boy – a "too well-dressed" boy in the street.
  • The two stare each other down, Old West style before they start arguing about who could lick who and who's a liar and my brother can beat up your brother and all that stuff. Then they finally put their money where their mouths are and start fighting.
  • Tom comes out on top, but ends up chasing the boy home after the sore loser hits him with a stone while his back is turned.
  • Tom attempts to sneak through a window, but he's ambushed by Aunt Polly, who decides that he will definitely not be having fun the next day, Saturday.

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