The Adventures of Tom Sawyer


Mark Twain

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Tom swims out into the river and secretly holds on to the ferry, thereby hitching a ride back to the village.
Tom feels a constant restlessness, needing to escape even from the island.
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Aunt Polly, Mary, Sid, and Mrs. Harper are reminiscing about their Tom and Joe when Tom sneaks into Aunt Polly's house to eavesdrop. They remember how the boys weren't that bad. When Sid says Tom could have behaved better, he's scolded. Tom is moved to tears, but dares not run out to hug Aunt Polly.
Tom has often self-pityingly imagined about how sorry his family would be if he should die, and now he's seeing his fantasy come true. While Tom is selfish in not preventing further distress, he also proves wise, for it is true that people are often appreciated more after their deaths than when alive. Sid holds onto a more realistic view of Tom as a devious prankster, and he is scolded for being uncharitable for doing so. Sid may be speaking honestly, but his viewpoint is anti-social.
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The mourners recount how the villagers believe that the boys went for a swim, perhaps, and drowned. They disappeared on Tuesday. If they don't show up by Sunday they will be presumed drowned.
The villagers' reaction to the boys disappearance is extreme, for they assume the worst after only a day has passed. They should know better, given the boys' constant rebellion, but even adults are prone to self-indulgent romantic views of themselves as sufferers.
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Tom sticks around to hear Aunt Polly's troubled murmuring as she falls asleep. He considers leaving his sycamore scroll at her bedside, but decides against it. He leaves her with a kiss as she sleeps.
Tom's tender kiss is sincere indication that he feels for his aunt—so much so that he almost acts responsibly. As the scroll's importance is not revealed, the significance of Tom's taking it with him creates a mystery.
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He borrows a boat from the ferry landing to reach the island. After napping on the shore, he heads to camp at dawn, where Joe and Huck are arguing over whether he deserted them. They celebrate Tom's embellished stories of the night's adventures over a bacon breakfast.
Tom does not portray the sadness of the scene at Aunt Polly's house, but rather its melodrama, emphasizing their importance in St. Petersburg. To speak with emotional maturity about how moved he was at the scene would break the rules of the boys' esteem of bad behavior.
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