Study Guide

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Chapter 8

By Mark Twain

Chapter 8

  • Tom runs off and over the hill behind the schoolhouse and into the woods. He finds a suitable spot and sits moping and wishing he would die – "if he could only die temporarily" (8.1).
  • He starts fantasizing about alternative career choices – becoming a soldier, a pirate, or an Indian.
  • He tries to use one of his various "incantations" to find some marbles he hid a while back, and is saddened and shaken to his core when it fails – despite the fact that the same trick had failed many times before.
  • He's trying out various other bits of hooey when he hears the blast of a toy trumpet. He flings off his oppressive clothes and pulls a toy sword and bow from the pushes.
  • Joe Harper, who's apparently also grown tired of school appears, and the two run through a rehearsed – it turns out Tom can memorize things when he wants to – totally crazy version of a duel between Robin Hood (Tom) and Guy of Guisborne (Joe).
  • Things go awry when Joe won't die; he's sick of always being the bad guy.
  • They come to a compromise: Tom agrees to play the bad guy for a little while if Joe will just die like a man this time. After that's all done, Tom resumes playing Robin Hood, and the two boys enact the hero's death scene.
  • Once finished, they hide their things and run off, convinced that they'd "rather be outlaws a year in Sherwood Forest than President of the United States forever" (8.35).