CliffsNotes, Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

CliffsNotes, Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

CliffsNotes, Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

CliffsNotes, Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer


The original CliffsNotes study guides offer expert commentary on major themes, plots, characters, literary devices, and historical background. The latest generation of titles in this series also feature glossaries and visual elements that complement the classic, familiar format.

In CliffsNotes on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, you experience the exciting adventures of a typical boy during the mid-nineteenth century. The characters - Tom himself, Becky Thatcher, Huck Finn, Injun Joe, and Aunt Polly - have become part of American heritage.

Use this study guide to help you discover all of Tom's dreams and fears - and perhaps a few of your own! You'll also gain insight into the man behind this American classic - Mark Twain, a.k.a. Samuel Clemens. Other features that help you study include

  • Character analyses of major players
  • A character map that graphically illustrates the relationships among the characters
  • Critical essays
  • A review section that tests your knowledge
  • A ResourceCenter full of books, articles, films, and Internet sites

Classic literature or modern modern-day treasure - you'll understand it all with expert information and insight from CliffsNotes study guides.


Aunt Polly finds Tom in the pantry where he has been eating forbidden jam. As she gets a switch, Tom convinces her that something is behind her. As she turns, he escapes, leaving her to contemplate how he constantly plays tricks on her. She is concerned whether or not she is “doing her duty by him,” but because he is her dead sister’s child, she cannot bring herself to be harsh with him.

That afternoon, Tom plays hooky from school, and at supper that night, Aunt Polly tries to trap him into revealing that he skipped school. Tom is able to avert her questioning, until Sid, Tom’s brother, squelches on him. Before Aunt Polly can say more, Tom escapes.

Heading into town, Tom meets a stranger, “a boy larger than himself” and—dressed up like a “city slicker.” He and Tom get into a fight. Tom gets the better of the other boy and follows him home. The boy’s mother appears and calls Tom a “bad vicious, vulgar child” and orders him away. When Tom returns home with his clothes dirty and torn, Aunt Polly decides that, as punishment, he will lose his freedom on Saturday and will have to whitewash the fence.


The opening chapter begins dramatically with Aunt Polly frantically calling for “Tom … Tom … TOM.” There can be no child, then as now, who has not heard a parent or guardian calling and has refused to answer; thus, Twain establishes a universal tone in this opening, especially because the caller is established as “The old lady” pulling “her spectacles down” and looking over them for Tom Sawyer.

This opening chapter with four distinct scenes sets the tone for the entire novel. The first scene creates the relationship between Tom and his Aunt Polly. She is a loving spinster aunt who is kind and simple and does not know how to control a young mischievous, strapping lad like Tom but who loves him dearly. “She was as simple-hearted and . . .

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