Study Guide

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Chapter 17

By Mark Twain

Chapter 17

  • It's Saturday afternoon back in St. Petersburg, and things aren't so lazy or tranquil. The boys and girls spend their time arguing about who knew Tom and Joe best, who was the last one to see him alive; one kid even brags about being beaten up by Tom.
  • Becky, for her part, regrets having thrown away Tom's andiron knob, and consoles herself with tears.
  • The next day, after Sunday school, everyone gathers in the church for the funeral.
  • Aunt Polly, Mary, Sid, and the Harper family show up in full mourning – deep, deep black from head to toe.
  • The preacher goes on and on for sometime about how wonderful the lost boys were; what once were crimes worthy of punishment are now shown to be noble and beautiful, and all that jazz. By the end, he's moved himself, and the congregation, to the point of tears.
  • Suddenly, out of nowhere, the boys come walking down the aisle.
  • Tom and Joe are immediately overwhelmed with hugs and kisses and all that mushy stuff. Tom is sad to see Huck left out of the lovefest and calls attention to his being neglected. So Aunt Polly goes and makes him feel awkward…but, well, hopefully a little bit loved too.
  • The whole church breaks into song, and, despite feeling a bit idiotic, is overjoyed by the boys' return.
  • Tom receives his fair share of love and scolding that day, but he's grateful for both.