Literature Study GuidesTom JonesBook 3 Chapters 6 10 Summary

Tom Jones | Study Guide

Henry Fielding

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Tom Jones | Book 3, Chapters 6–10 : Containing the most Memorable Transactions which passed in the Family of Mr. Allworthy, from the Time when Tommy Jones arrived at the Age of Fourteen, till he attained the Age of Nineteen. | Summary



Book 3, Chapter 6

The narrator notes with verbal irony (in which what is said is different than what is meant) that the two pedagogues liked Mr. Allworthy so much that they "had meditated the closest alliance with him"—that is, they both had their eye on his sister, the rich widow. Both think they can ingratiate themselves with Bridget by favoring Blifil and treating Tom poorly. While Bridget enjoys their attention she has no intention of marrying either. Moreover, she strongly dislikes her son and prefers Tom. In fact people are talking about the affection she has for him, and both teachers hate Tom the more for it.

Book 3, Chapter 7

When Mr. Allworthy notices his sister "absolutely detested" her own son, he starts to see "every appearance of virtue in the youth." Moreover, Tom begins to "sink in his affections" even as Blifil's stock rises—partly contributing to Mr. Allworthy's views of Tom's "wantonness, wildness, and want of caution." Thus the narrator cautions youths with "goodness of heart" and "openness of temper" to remember "if your inside be never so beautiful, you must preserve a fair outside also."

Book 3, Chapter 8

Tom sells his horse, a present given to him by Mr. Allworthy, and when he is questioned by his benefactor he confesses he needed money for Black George's family so they could escape "absolute destruction." He has been unable to support them since he was fired. Mr. Allworthy dismisses him with a "gentle rebuke."

Book 3, Chapter 9

Tom has also sold the Bible Mr. Allworthy gave him, for the same purpose of raising money for George. Blifil is the buyer, and he arranges for Thwackum to learn of the "crime." The parson beats Tom for the offense and then reports it to Mr. Allworthy. Square disagrees that selling the Bible is any great crime—no different from the sale of any other book—and Bridget weighs in to say that if the seller is at fault so is the buyer. Mr. Allworthy says he won't punish Tom twice for the same crime. In the meantime when he, Blifil, and Mr. Allworthy are out on a walk, Tom steers his benefactor to the place where George's family lives, and when Mr. Allworthy sees the extremity of the family's poverty he tells Tom he will find some way to help them.

Book 3, Chapter 10

Blifil informs Mr. Allworthy that George has been poaching hares from his neighbor Western's property. Blifil swears Mr. Allworthy to secrecy, so George never has a chance to defend himself: the truth is he poached one hare a while back. Mr. Allworthy now refuses to help Black George, although he tells Tom he will not let the family starve. Tom has become good friends with Squire Western, who admires Tom's physical prowess and hunting skills. The squire is an avid sportsman. Thus Tom hopes to be made George Western's gamekeeper, and he applies to Mr. Western's daughter to help him.


People's tongues are wagging in Book 3, Chapter 6 because Bridget prefers the teenage Tom, whose "tokens of ... gallantry of temper ... greatly [recommend] men to women," and with these words the narrator plays a trick on the reader and once again shows appearances can be deceiving. The narrator claims Bridget hates her own son, quite likely because she hated his father, but perhaps she sees his character more clearly than anyone else. Further the narrator implies Bridget's affection for Tom is sexual, and only at the end of the novel does the reader learn that Tom is in fact her son. Bridget grumbles behind her brother's back about the foundling, maintaining a pretense of rancor to keep up the appearance that they are not related. But when he grows into a gallant young man she cannot help but be pleased with him.

Mr. Allworthy changes his attitude toward Blifil to compensate for his sister's dislike, but he makes the error of thinking that to love his nephew he needs turn a blind eye to his faults. This doesn't help Blifil and, perhaps if Mr. Allworthy had corrected the boy's envious and malicious tendencies, he might not have grown up to be a villain. Mr. Allworthy forgives Tom for selling the horse in Book 3, Chapter 8 when he hears Black George's family is close to "absolute destruction," but he is upset with him for not asking him for help before taking matters into his own hands. Yet the reader cannot help but wonder why Mr. Allworthy, whose charity is well known, wouldn't have known the terrible straits George's family was in and done something on his own. One of the themes in the novel is the journey from innocence to experience, and it seems as if Mr. Allworthy in some ways is a grown man who continues in an innocence that, despite his best intentions, wreaks harm on others.

The narrator uses Tom as an object lesson to caution all youths about the importance of appearances, and much of Tom's suffering is caused not only by his lack of prudence but also by his disregard of social conventions. Specifically he never stops to think about how things "look" while he is trying to do what he thinks is right. Blifil takes advantage of this blindness in Tom, as well as Mr. Allworthy's blindness to his faults. The narrator says Blifil falls short on the quality of mercy and, like his teachers, prefers justice. The narrator sarcastically remarks that Black George bagged one hare for "want of bread, either to fill his own mouth, or those of his family ... [and] basely and barbarously knocked [it] on the head, against the laws of the land, and no less against the laws of sportsmen." For this reason Blifil reports him in Book 3, Chapter 10 but exaggerates the crime and arranges to deliver the information so that the gamekeeper has no chance to defend himself. Thus he undoes much of the good done by Tom.

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