Study Guide

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Chapter 23

By Mark Twain

Chapter 23

  • Now things heat up; the murder trial finally begins. As the village buzzes with rumors, Tom cannot ignore conscience.
  • He and Huck have a confab, and swear again that they'll tell no one about what they saw…then they immediately start talking about Muff Potter, and how nice he was, and how he doesn't deserve to die.
  • The boys return to the jail and slip Muff some gifts, and Muff tells them just how grateful he really is.
  • He tells them how awful he feels about always being drunk, and how they should never touch alcohol; and then he asks them to stand up so he can see their faces through the bars.
  • After all that, Tom feels even guiltier and more miserable than before. He and Huck are so anxious that they avoid seeing each other, so that they aren't reminded of their terrible secret.
  • A couple of days later the court proceedings are finally winding down. Muff Potter is brought in, and a few more witnesses called, each of them saying nothing to contradict Injun Joe's original statement.
  • Finally, just as the trial seems to be ending, the defense calls one last witness: Tom Sawyer. Tom tells the court about what he saw that night in the graveyard; he is careful not to mention Huck, and the lawyers have even tracked down the dead cat's skeleton as proof of the story.
  • Now, Injun Joe is sitting in the courtroom, no doubt feeling pretty scared, and when Tom finally tells the lawyer that Injun Joe is the one who committed the crime, Injun Joe jumps out of a window and runs as fast as he can.