The Adventures of Tom Sawyer | Study Guide

Mark Twain

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer | Chapter 8 | Summary



Tom doesn't return to school after the noon break. Instead he goes into the woods, where he is faced with another disappointment. His trick of burying a marble to draw out all of the ones he's lost (a superstition among Tom and his friends) has been a failure. Upon consulting with a "doodle-bug" who offers no answer, Tom suspects a witch. He throws a marble, looking for its match (another superstition). This, too, is unsuccessful. Two more tries follow, and the final one is successful at finding the missing marble.

Not long after, Joe Harper arrives, and the boys play Robin Hood.


Here again readers see a reliance upon superstitions. This builds upon Tom's belief that a dead cat can be part of a cure for warts and that devils appear in the graveyard. Whereas Aunt Polly refers to the Bible, Tom and Huck are more likely to use superstitious beliefs as a guide, and they seem largely immune to the Christian beliefs constantly preached by their elders.

Tom also consults Robin Hood here and elsewhere in the novel as a source of authority. At this point in life Tom is an orphan being raised by his aunt; he lacks a father figure and gets many of his ideas about the world from reading and other fanciful sources. In any case the reader sees in this chapter that Tom is studying the actions of the characters in the Robin Hood story. His playacting here and his playing army with Joe and the boys at the onset of the novel both involve taking on the role of men trying to overcome great odds. His playacting also connects the novel to the larger genre of boy books.

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