Study Guide

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Chapter 3

By Mark Twain

Chapter 3

  • Aunt Polly, surprised to see Tom back soon or at all, doesn't believe it when her nephew tells her he's finished his chore.
  • She's even more surprised to see that he's actually done it, and she gives him an apple as a prize and sends him on his way; Tom, never satisfied, steals a doughnut on his way out.
  • In order to celebrate/avenge himself, he throws a bunch of dirt clods at Sid.
  • Tom makes his way to the town square, where two "armies" are preparing for battle, he being the General of one of them.
  • He and his friend Joe Harper, commanding officer of the other army, set the battle in motion, then sit by the side chatting while things go down.
  • Tom wins the battle, works out the date and time of the next battle with Joe, and, when all is said and done, skips home.
  • On his way back, he passes the house of his schoolmate Jeff Thatcher. In the yard he spies a certain beautiful girl who immediately captures his heart and erases all memory of his previous girlfriend, Amy Lawrence. Tom isn't exactly a faithful kind of guy.
  • When he's sure she's watching, he begins to show-off, acting like a fool, doing all sorts of silly acrobatic maneuvers – and, though it seems, for a moment, that she's unimpressed, she throws a flower to him just before she goes inside.
  • Tom tries to act cool and nonchalant, then runs and grabs the flower between his toes when he's sure she's gone.
  • He hangs around for the rest of the night, hoping to impress Becky some more, but she never returns, so he heads back home.
  • At supper, Tom is so happy that he doesn't mind being scolded for dirt-throwing or getting a slap on the wrist for sugar-stealing.
  • When Sid tries to steal some sugar, only to knock the bowl to the ground, Tom sits, ecstatic, waiting to see Sid get what he deserves. Instead, he gets blamed for the incident and hit again.
  • Still, Aunt Polly feels guilty when she hears the truth of the matter, and Tom does his best to play up his emotions, to cry and pity himself. He really does cry and he really is sad, though he likes the feeling.
  • Just then, his saintly cousin Mary (allusion alert!) strolls in, having been away for a week, bringing cheer in with her; Tom, still sulking, takes his bad mood outside with him.
  • Tom wanders down to the river, plops himself down on a raft and sulks some more, until he remembers Becky and her flower.
  • He wonders, then, if she would care about his problems, so he heads toward her house and lies down under a candle-lit second-story window, waiting to die, hoping Becky will find his dead body and cry for him.
  • Instead, the Thatcher's maid servant pours a bucket of something or other (probably the unpleasant contents of a chamber pot) out the window and onto Tom.
  • Tom throws a rock at the window, breaking it, then runs back home and sneaks into bed.