The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Tom returns home to ask permission to go out and play. Aunt Polly goes to inspect the fence. Overwhelmed with pride at the well-painted fence, she gives Tom an apple. He steals a donut, as well, and throws some dirt at Sid on his way out.
Aunt Polly's pride in Tom should have inspired him to further good behavior, but he finds more reward in bullying Sid. He also doesn't worry about disappointing her should she discover his theft. Tom's experience of the world is shortsighted. Only his enjoyment of the moment motivates him.
Themes
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Showing Off Theme Icon
On his way to the public square to play at being soldiers with his friends, Tom notices a new girl in town. She instantly wins his heart (though he has recently promised it to Amy Lawrence). He begins strutting around and showing off to catch her attention. She eventually retreats indoors, but not before throwing a pansy over the fence at him. Tom hangs around her house till nightfall in hopes that she is watching.
Once more Tom wants what isn't his, and devalues what is. Because Tom lives in the present moment, he doesn't consider how Amy's feelings will be hurt. Adult romantic relationships are built on long-term commitments. All the same, Tom's dabbling in romance shows his acceptance of some aspects of conventional adult life he looks forward to, such as marriage.
Themes
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Sentimentality and Realism Theme Icon
At home during dinner, Aunt Polly scolds Tom for throwing dirt at Sid earlier, and for stealing sugar at the table. He complains that Sid is allowed to take sugar. When Aunt Polly steps out of the room, Sid accidentally knocks over the sugar bowl. Aunt Polly returns and strikes Tom for breaking the bowl, though she soon realizes that it wasn't Tom who broke it. Even so, she refuses to admit her mistake, and Tom imagines how sorry she'd be if anything happened to him. As Mary enters the house in good spirits after a trip to the country, Tom sullenly leaves.
Though adults expect children to always follow their strict rules, Aunt Polly's different treatment and expectations of Sid and Tom reveal how inconsistent adult behavior can be. Aunt Polly further reveals her hypocrisy in not apologizing to Tom for falsely accusing him of breaking the bowl. Tom's only relief from Aunt Polly's unfair judgment comes in his leaving the house, and he does so every chance he can get.
Themes
The Hypocrisy of Adult Society Theme Icon
Superstition, Fantasy, and Escape Theme Icon
Still holding onto her pansy, Tom heads back to his crush's house. When a maid suddenly opens a window to throw out wastewater, Tom gets drenched. He returns home in a mood so angry that Sid doesn't even dare tease him for being wet. Tom goes to sleep without bothering to say his prayers.
To cheer himself up, Tom goes seeking attention. When things continue to not go his way, he reacts by breaking more rules and refusing to pray before bed. Tom's sense of self-importance is so great that it verges on entitlement at times, so that he overreacts to minor setbacks.
Themes
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Showing Off Theme Icon
Sentimentality and Realism Theme Icon
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