The Adventures of Tom Sawyer | Study Guide

Mark Twain

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer | Chapter 32 | Summary



Tom finds a way out, and after he goes back for Becky and convinces her to come with him, they push their way out of the cave. They're rescued by men on a skiff and given food and rest. As they reveal their story, Tom learns that they are five miles away from the cave entrance. Upon their return to their village, the two children take to their beds to recover.

When Tom is up, but before he is fully well, he learns of Huck's fever and goes to see him. He is refused for three days. When he is allowed to see Huck, Tom is under the supervision of Widow Douglas to be sure he doesn't "introduce [any] exciting topic."

In the following days the body of Injun Joe's accomplice is discovered.


The resolution of the escape stands out, as it's told several layers removed. The last chapter ended with "bodings of coming doom," and this one opens with the town's perspective rather than the children's narrower point of view. The story of their escape is not told in the moment. There are a few explanations for this narrative move, the most obvious of which is that the telling allowed it to seem larger than it was. The children are weakened and take to bed for several days. Logically, that is not indicative of a heroic escape.

At this point in the book, the reader sees that Huck is in bed, too. Both Tom and Huck are healing, under watch, as is Becky. This also alleviates the guilt of responsibility for Injun Joe's entrapment in the cave. Tom is weakened. He is thereby not accountable for his failure to let the judge and the rest of the townsfolk know that the murderer is in the cave. In fact he can't even tell Huck, and if he could, Huck's also too sick to act.

Two weeks pass. Tom decides again to go see Huck. He stops along the way at the Thatcher house. While there, he learns from the judge that the cave has been locked. It is at this point that Tom, in shock, tells the judge that he had seen Injun Joe inside the cave.

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