Literature Study GuidesTom JonesBook 6 Chapters 11 14 Summary

Tom Jones | Study Guide

Henry Fielding

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Tom Jones | Book 6, Chapters 11–14 : Containing about Three Weeks. | Summary

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Summary

Book 6, Chapter 11

After dinner Mr. Allworthy speaks to Tom privately and lays his charges before him, and since Tom is sad he does not do a good job of defending himself. Mr. Allworthy thus pronounces him "an abandoned reprobate," adding on the charge of his "audacious attempt to steal away the young lady." Mr. Allworthy is most upset about Tom's supposed bad treatment of Blifil, who has "behaved with so much tenderness and honour towards you." Mr. Allworthy gives him £500 and turns him out of the house, cutting all ties with him. Tom weeps and kisses his mentor's hands, eventually pulling himself together.

Book 6, Chapter 12

Tom decides the only thing he can do for Sophia is to leave her rather than "pursue her to her ruin." Tom goes to a nearby house to write a farewell letter and leaves his pocketbook with the money from Mr. Allworthy beside the brook where he had been weeping, and when he goes back for it he runs into Black George. The two of them search for the pocketbook and can't find it, but in truth George has already found the money and pocketed it. George now agrees to take the letter to Mrs. Honour, who will pass it to Sophia. When George meets her she has a letter for Tom, which reassures him she will never marry Blifil.

Book 6, Chapter 13

Mrs. Western is working to convince Sophia that marriage is a business transaction, used to advance one's fortune in the world. Western comes back from Mr. Allworthy's estate and locks Sophia in her room. Honour brings Sophia Tom's letter, and she confesses to her maid that she has "thrown away my heart on a man who hath forsaken me." When Honour berates him, Sophia then defends him, saying "his poor bleeding heart suffered more when he writ the cruel words than mine from reading them." Honour relates that Tom has been kicked out of the house, and Sophia sends him some money through Black George, who doesn't steal it because he would get caught.

Book 6, Chapter 14

When Mrs. Western discovers that her brother has locked up her niece, she becomes angry with him. She overrules him and releases Sophia after a day of being locked up.

Analysis

Fielding's novel has a deliberate symmetry, and the first third covers Tom's early years and his expulsion from "Paradise Hall," the name of Mr. Allworthy's estate laden with obvious symbolism. This action is fairly close to Voltaire's Candide (1759). Tom's sins of indiscretion and imprudence get him tossed out of paradise, and now he must hit the road and make his way in the world as best as he can. Because Tom doesn't yet understand that how things look is as important as how things are, he doesn't think to tell Mr. Allworthy in Book 6, Chapter 11 why he got drunk, and Mr. Allworthy's natural modesty leaves out the detail Blifil provided—that he exhibited his bad behavior when Mr. Allworthy was thought to be dying. Further he doesn't think to tell Mr. Allworthy about Blifil's violence on that day, not understanding that his benefactor is most upset about his bad treatment of his brother. Since Jones is honest and upright, he doesn't realize that Blifil has been scheming against him for a long time. Such deep malice and dishonesty is not something he can imagine. The fact that he does not get angry at his foster father and feels nothing but gratitude toward him and terrible sadness upon being forcefully separated from him is a testament to his good character.

Tom's carelessness with his property—another form of imprudence—leaves him penniless when George steals his £500. This theft is a very bad act, made worse by the fact that Tom has been such a good friend to the gamekeeper. George has no compunction about stealing, and he even would have stolen the money sent by Sophia if he could have gotten away with it. Perhaps he cannot separate Tom from the gentleman's class, to which Tom nominally belongs and which has oppressed him—so he feels no remorse about taking advantage of a gentleman. The extent of Tom's naïveté in his relationship with Black George is painful for the reader to think about, and indeed he seems ridiculously innocent as he is flayed on all sides and turned out in the world. He determines that the best thing he can do for Sophia is let her go even as he harbors some faint hope that his situation might change.

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