Study Guide

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Chapter 6

By Mark Twain

Chapter 6

  • Tom's got a case of the Mondays, and he does everything he can to stay home from school. He pretends that his sore toe hurts so much that he's going to die – and he pretends so hard that he begins to believe his own lies.
  • When Sid wakes up and finds Tom groaning, he freaks out, especially when Tom starts telling him that he forgives him for everything and that he, Sid, should give his possessions to "that new girl" (6.19).
  • Sid runs down and gets Aunt Polly, who quickly figures out that Tom's full of it; all Tom can tell her is that his toe's "mortified."
  • Turns out Tom does have something wrong with him, though – his tooth's sore – and Aunt Polly sets about fixing it. She does the whole tie-up-the-tooth-with-string thing and – pop! – it's out.
  • Though Tom does not enjoy the experience and does not want to go to school, he is pleased to have a nasty tooth to show off to his buddies.
  • On the way to school, he runs into Huckleberry Finn, the "juvenile pariah of the village," a little outcast, at least as far as the adults are concerned (6.44).
  • Motherless, homeless, and the son of the town drunk, Huck is envied by all the kids because…he's free, man. He can wear what he wants, he can smoke without getting in trouble, he doesn't have to go to church or school, and he, well…he can do anything, really, as far as they're concerned. Huck, the cool guy that he is, is holding a dead cat this particular moment.
  • He and Tom get down to discussing different "cures" for warts, remedies involving beans, blood, "spunk-water" (the water found inside rotting tree stumps) – and a variety of silly incantations.
  • Huck tells Tom that he has it on good authority from Mother Hopkins, the local witch, that – get ready for this – burying a dead cat in a graveyard near the grave of a recently buried bad dude at midnight is the best cure of all.
  • It just so happens that this bad dude, Hoss Williams, was buried the past Saturday, and Huck happens to be in possession of a dead cat, so the two boys decide to head out to the graveyard that night and test out the cure.
  • Tom runs off to school, where he's immediately called out by the teacher for being late.
  • When the schoolmaster asks him where he's been he admits, or, rather, states proudly and loudly, that he has just been talking to none other than Huckleberry Finn. He then proceeds to get quite a whacking.
  • But it's all part of the plan. In addition to his corporal punishment, he's "forced" to sit with the girls. Tom, the sly dog that he is, knew this would happen, and that the only seat left open was right next to Judge Thatcher's daughter.
  • Tom flirts shamelessly with her, shooting her glances, and insisting that she accept his gift of a peach. Having gotten her interest, he shows Becky the masterpiece he's drawn on his slate – a terrible picture of a house and some stick figures; Picasso he's not…but she's not exactly a discriminating critic. She likes it enough to introduce herself – she goes by Becky – and accept Tom's offer to teach her a thing or two about drawing after class.
  • Now Tom drops a bomb – he writes "I love you" on his slate and shows it to Becky; she hits him on the hand, but it's clear she likes him too.
  • The schoolmaster, who's no doubt been watching the whole time, comes and pulls away Tom by the ear and puts him back in the boy's section. Ecstatic, Tom can no longer concentrate on his work.