The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

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The Treasure Symbol Analysis

The Treasure Symbol Icon
Finding treasure is a fanciful notion appropriate to Tom's romantic boyhood imagination. Yet this unrealistic dream nonetheless comes true by the novel's end. Tom and Huck achieve maturity with the windfall of their treasure, which heralds the onset of their adulthood in the eyes of society, for they have achieved wealth and status.

The Treasure Quotes in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The The Adventures of Tom Sawyer quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Treasure. 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 27 Quotes
Then it occurred to him that the great adventure itself must be a dream! There was one very strong argument in favor of this idea—namely, that the quantity of coin he had seen was too vast to be real.
Related Characters: Tom Sawyer
Related Symbols: The Treasure
Page Number: 175
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Tom has discovered the existence of a great treasure--he and Huck witnessed Injun Joe and his followers with a chest of coins. While Tom is dazzled by the spectacle of so much wealth, he finds it almost impossible to believe that the treasure is real: in his mind, it makes more sense that the treasure is "just a dream."

Notice the irony here. After two hundred pages of daydreaming about pirates, war, adventures, kidnapping, and other fantastic things, Tom finally discovers something extraordinary: and he can't believe it's real! For all his talk about wanting to have exciting adventures, Tom is essentially a home body: he's most comfortable in the confines of his small community. Perhaps the more subtle implication of this passage is that Tom wishes he could return to his old life--a life in which he didn't have to concern himself with money or real danger of any kind.

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Chapter 35 Quotes
"Lookyhere, Tom, being rich ain't what it's cracked up to be. It's just worry and worry, and sweat and sweat, and a-wishing you was dead all the time. Now these clothes suit me, and this bar'l suits me, and I ain't ever going to shake 'em any more."
Related Characters: Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn
Related Symbols: The Treasure
Page Number: 229
Explanation and Analysis:

In the final chapter of the book, Tom and Huck have become “rich” by discovering a great treasure. Although they’re now “taken care of” for the rest of their lives, they don’t really feel any different. Indeed, Huck tells Tom that wealth is overrated: the only real consequence of having a lot of money is worrying about your money all the time.

Not for the first time in the novel, Huck’s pronouncement is both naïve and insightful. Huck is too young to conceive of all the things money can achieve (Huck’s creator, Mark Twain, was always investing in get-rich-quick schemes, nearly all of which failed to make him any money). And yet Huck has a point, hackneyed though that point may be: money doesn’t necessarily buy happiness.

Throughout the novel, Twain has showed us how Tom and Huck have found great happiness by using their imaginations and treating life as a great adventure. At the end of the novel, Tom and Huck gain some financial independence—one of the hallmarks of adulthood—and yet they’re mostly unimpressed with the adulthood. One could argue that Tom Sawyer is an anti-coming-of-age novel. Tom and Huck learn some lessons along the way, but they could hardly be mistaken for mature young men—and maybe, Twain suggests, that’s a good thing. 

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The Treasure Symbol Timeline in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Treasure appears in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 26
Superstition, Fantasy, and Escape Theme Icon
Showing Off Theme Icon
The stranger thinks that finding this treasure means they don't have to do the "dangerous job." Injun Joe insists that they will... (full context)
Chapter 27
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Superstition, Fantasy, and Escape Theme Icon
Tom's dreams ceaselessly about the treasure. The sum of money involved is so enormous that he thinks and hopes to himself... (full context)
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Showing Off Theme Icon
The next morning, Tom asks if Huck remembers what Tom does about the treasure. Huck does indeed, and is ruminating on how foolish they were to have left their... (full context)
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Showing Off Theme Icon
Tom suggests they still have a chance to claim the treasure if they figure out where Number Two is. He thinks the name may stand for... (full context)
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Showing Off Theme Icon
...the Spaniard around if he sees him. Huck is fearful, but Tom reminds him the treasure is incentive. (full context)
Chapter 28
The Hypocrisy of Adult Society Theme Icon
Showing Off Theme Icon
...room must be haunted by whisky. When Huck asks Tom why he didn't steal the treasure given that Injun Joe was passed out, Tom's grows defensive and asserts that Huck wouldn't... (full context)
Chapter 29
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Sentimentality and Realism Theme Icon
...hours spying are worth it, but just then two men exit the tavern carrying the treasure box. Huck makes a quick decision that there's no point in alerting Tom about what's... (full context)
Chapter 30
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
The Hypocrisy of Adult Society Theme Icon
Showing Off Theme Icon
...him to be fully honest, and he reveals the Spaniard's true identity, without mentioning the treasure. The Welchman is shocked, then realizes it makes sense, for the violent plan Huck described... (full context)
Chapter 33
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Superstition, Fantasy, and Escape Theme Icon
Showing Off Theme Icon
...assumed Tom made it into No. 2 at Temperance Tavern to find whiskey rather than treasure. Tom explains this never happened, instantly realizing that "Number Two" must be the cave! They... (full context)
Chapter 34
Boyhood Rebellion and Growing Up Theme Icon
Showing Off Theme Icon
Sentimentality and Realism Theme Icon
...one knows what to make of Tom's words, till he pulls in the wagonload of treasure. The coins are counted, and amount to $12,000, to be split evenly between Tom and... (full context)
Chapter 35
Superstition, Fantasy, and Escape Theme Icon
Showing Off Theme Icon
...closely to their every word, and people start searching haunted houses all over town for treasure. (full context)