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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer | Study Guide

Mark Twain

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer | Chapter 6 | Summary



The following morning finds Tom in low spirits. He alarms his aunt by telling her that his toe is "mortified" (severely infected). She discovers that this is untrue, but in the conversation, Tom slips and reveals his sore tooth. Rather than let him stay home from school, she pulls his tooth.

On the way to school, Tom meets Huck Finn. They discuss a wart cure that involves taking a dead cat to a graveyard, and they plan to go to the graveyard that night to try it. The devils are expected to come for the recently deceased Hoss Williams, according to Huck.

Tom trades his tooth to Huck for a tick and goes on to school, where he is in trouble for tardiness. After Mr. Dobbins strikes him, Tom is sent to sit with the girls. This, however, ends up being a reward, as Tom begins to talk to Becky Thatcher. Becky is impressed by Tom's drawings, and after some flirtation he writes "I love you" to Becky.


One of the traits of the 19th-century "boy book" is the love interest. Becky Thatcher provides the required schoolboy crush that is a mainstay of the genre. Becky is drawn to Tom not because of his antics or his manipulation but because of his drawing.

Also evident in this chapter is the prevalence of superstitious narratives among the boys. Readers have already seen Tom's interest in stories through play (acting out armies in the center of town with Joe Harper in Chapter 3) and in the narrative aspect of the minister's sermon. Here readers see his interest in Huck's tales about the presence of devils in the graveyard and about ways to remove warts with a dead cat.

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