The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

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Injun Joe Character Analysis

The novel's villain. Injun Joe is an anti-social adult, motivated by revenge and ruthless in exacting it. He brings both realism and romanticism to the novel. On the one hand his behavior forces Tom and his friends to confront injustice and criminality. On the other his fantastic escapes and discovery of treasure serve as plot devices that move the novel along as a page-turning adventure story. He is also half Native American, and has faced discrimination in society as a result. Even so, Twain's depiction of him is unsympathetic.

Injun Joe Quotes in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The The Adventures of Tom Sawyer quotes below are all either spoken by Injun Joe or refer to Injun Joe. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage Classics edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer published in 2010.
Chapter 11 Quotes
Injun Joe repeated his statement, just as calmly, a few minutes afterward on the inquest, under oath; and the boys, seeing that the lightnings were still withheld, were confirmed in their belief that Joe had sold himself to the devil. He was now become, to them, the most balefully interesting object they had ever looked upon, and they could not take their fascinated eyes from his face. They inwardly resolved to watch him, nights, when opportunity should offer, in the hope of getting a glimpse of his dread master.
Related Characters: Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Injun Joe
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Twain shows the trial of Injun Joe--a local man who murdered his partner, then framed another man, Muff Potter, for the crime. At the trial, Joe testifies that he saw Muff kill the man. Strangely, everyone seems to believe Joe without much question--Joe's confident attitude and calm demeanor fools the townspeople into trusting him. Tom and Huck Finn have witnessed Joe's crime: they know that it was Joe, not Muff, who committed the murder. The young boys are stunned that Joe can lie so easily, and get away with it.

The passage is an important milestone in the boys' coming-of-age. So far, Tom's life has been carefree and childish--he hasn't really had contact with people or events that could properly be called "adult." Now, Tom has witnessed a murder. Moreover, he sees a grown man lying under oath--something Tom has always been taught is a horrible sin (and he apparently thought Joe would be instantly struck by lightning for committing it). The irony is that in spite of Tom's reputation for rambunctiousness and dishonesty, he's really a pretty good, well-meaning child--as evidenced by his genuine shock when Joe lies under oath.

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Chapter 31 Quotes
Tom got down on his knees and felt below, and then as far around the corner as he could reach with his hands conveniently; he made an effort to stretch yet a little further to the right, and at that moment, not twenty yards away, a human hand, holding a candle, appeared from behind a rock! Tom lifted up a glorious shout, and instantly that hand was followed by the body it belonged to—Injun Joe's! Tom was paralyzed ; he could not move. He was instantly gratified, the next moment, to see the "Spaniard" take to his heels and get himself out of sight.
Related Characters: Tom Sawyer, Injun Joe
Related Symbols: The Cave
Page Number: 208
Explanation and Analysis:

In this strange scene, Tom--who's trapped in the cave--crosses paths with Injun Joe, who's hiding out in the cave as well. Tom is terrified when he sees Joe, since he assumes Joe will want to get his revenge on Tom for ratting him out to the authorities. And yet Injun Joe doesn't try to attack Tom at all--he just runs away into the darkness.

Why doesn't Joe try to hurt Tom? Perhaps Joe just didn't recognize him, and heard a shout and automatically fled. Or perhaps he isn't really as angry with Tom as Tom had assumed: even if Tom and Huck are the reason that Joe has had to flee the town, Joe might not blame the two young children for his fate. Moreover, Joe's behavior suggests that he's more concerned for his own survival in the cave than in getting revenge. As intimidating as Joe might seem to Tom, both Joe and Tom are trapped in the same predicament: they're imprisoned in the same cave. The implication of this passage is that Joe--and by extension, the whole adult world--isn't as capable and powerful as Tom had assumed: young or adult, male or female, everyone gets scared in a cave.

Chapter 33 Quotes
Injun Joe lay stretched upon the ground, dead, with his face close to the crack of the door, as if his longing eyes had been fixed, to the latest moment, upon the light and the cheer of the free world outside. Tom was touched, for he knew by his own experience how this wretch had suffered.
Related Characters: Tom Sawyer, Injun Joe
Related Symbols: The Cave
Page Number: 213
Explanation and Analysis:

At the end of the novel, Tom discovers that Injun Joe has died in the cave where Tom himself was trapped. Unlike Tom, Joe hasn't been able to find a way out of his prison: he's been forced to live on bats and try in vain to carve his way to freedom.

The passage is significant for a number of reasons. First, notice that Joe--the strong, rugged adult--has died in the same cave that Tom survived. Tom is beginning to realize that being an adult isn't all it's cracked up to be: adults can still come to harm, and in the most gruesome ways.

The passage also represents one of the first times in the novel that Tom shows real sympathy for another person. Tom knows first-hand how frightening getting trapped in a cave can be, so even though he fears and hates Joe, he's naturally sympathetic to Joe's horrible fate. Tom seems to have gained some maturity after all over the course of the book: he's learned to respect other people and sympathize with their pain.

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Injun Joe Character Timeline in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The timeline below shows where the character Injun Joe appears in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 9
Showing Off Theme Icon
...they notice three approaching figures, and hide. The figures turn out to be Dr. Robinson, Injun Joe , and Muff Potter. The hiding boys look on as the three begin grave-digging. (full context)
Chapter 10
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Superstition, Fantasy, and Escape Theme Icon
...stop at an abandoned cottage. They agree not to tell what they've seen for fear Injun Joe will kill them. They sign a pledge of secrecy in blood and bury it. (full context)
Chapter 11
The Hypocrisy of Adult Society Theme Icon
...the crime scene. When Muff arrives, the crowd surrounds him. He swears he's innocent, but Injun Joe twice says he witnessed Muff murder Dr. Robinson. Injun Joe even helps carry the body... (full context)
Chapter 24
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
During the nights after the trial, Tom is plagued by fear that Injun Joe , whose whereabouts are unknown, will come trying to kill him. Huck is also scared... (full context)
Chapter 26
Superstition, Fantasy, and Escape Theme Icon
Showing Off Theme Icon
...They peek through the floorboards and see two men. One is the deaf and dumb Spaniard who recently arrived in town and the other is a stranger. They are shocked when... (full context)
Chapter 27
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Showing Off Theme Icon
...as they can find to try opening No. 2. Tom orders Huck to follow the Spaniard around if he sees him. Huck is fearful, but Tom reminds him the treasure is... (full context)
Chapter 28
The Hypocrisy of Adult Society Theme Icon
Showing Off Theme Icon
...tells Huck that the door wasn't locked. When he opened it, he almost tripped over Injun Joe , who lay passed out on the floor beside a tin cup and a bottle,... (full context)
Chapter 29
Showing Off Theme Icon
...the Widow Douglas's land, the men suddenly stop, and Huck sees that they are indeed Injun Joe and the stranger. Injun Joe expresses his frustration at seeing lights on in the widow's... (full context)
Chapter 30
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
The Hypocrisy of Adult Society Theme Icon
Showing Off Theme Icon
Huck describes the appearance of the outlaws without revealing that the Spaniard is Injun Joe, from whom he still fears retribution. The Welchman presses him to be... (full context)
Chapter 31
The Hypocrisy of Adult Society Theme Icon
...resting on a rock, he cries out in joy. The hand turns out to be Injun Joe 's, who flees at seeing Tom. Tom assumes Injun Joe didn't recognize him, for he... (full context)
Chapter 32
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Showing Off Theme Icon
...cave has been blocked to prevent more exploring. Tom is aghast and blurts out that Injun Joe is inside the cave. (full context)
Chapter 33
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
...several boatloads of men immediately head to the cave's entrance. Removing its barrier, they find Injun Joe 's dead body. Tom realizes he's relieved to no longer fear being murdered. (full context)