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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer | Study Guide

Mark Twain

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer | Chapter 26 | Summary



Tom tells Huck about Robin Hood, and they play pretend. Eventually, though, they end up exploring a "haunted house." They toss their tools aside and go upstairs. When they hear noises, they hide. Presently, they see the "old deaf and dumb Spaniard" who has recently been around town, along with another man. When the Spaniard speaks, the boys discover that he is none other than Injun Joe. The criminals plot and fall asleep. Tom and Huck initially plan to slip out when the men sleep, but the creak of a floorboard makes them discard that plan. They continue to wait.

When the criminals awaken they discuss the money they have stolen and prepare to hide it. In doing so they find another stash of money. Injun Joe's companion suggests that a job can be dropped now, but Injun Joe says that it cannot because it's about revenge. He realizes then that there was fresh earth on the pick he'd used to dig up the treasure. The criminals start to search the house, but when Joe falls through the rotten wood of the stairs, he gives up. The two men leave—taking their silver and the newly found gold with them. Once they're gone, the boys worry that Injun Joe was referring to revenge against Tom.


In the wake of the boy-book adventures of the prior chapter, the novel returns to the real-world threat faced by Tom. Earlier in the novel the length of the digressions into boyhood play are longer, but in the final ten chapters of the book, these playacting sections are shorter and the focus shifts to the narrative thread with Injun Joe at its center. In this chapter in particular the attempt to return to play is literally interrupted by Injun Joe's appearance. Returning to the comforts of make-believe and childhood is not possible. Injun Joe enters the very house where they are playing, shattering the illusion of romantic adventure.

The transition from boyhood to adulthood is also represented here in that there is an actual treasure. The boys see it. They learn that it's not only the gain from Injun Joe and his accomplice's crimes but also a second treasure hoard that is presumed to be from other criminal deeds. The treasure they'd hoped to find is there, but so are the real-world dangers they were hoping to avoid.

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