Chapter 20 Notes from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Chapter 20

Tom's encounter with Aunt Polly has made him feel good about himself, and his bad mood with Becky is forgotten. He sees Becky on the way to school and apologizes for being mean. She, still angry, tells him that she is never going to speak to him again, and storms off. Once at school, they continue being mean to each other and Becky can't wait for Tom to be punished for his damaged spelling book.

As Becky goes into the schoolhouse, she notices that the schoolmaster has left his desk key in the lock on the drawer. She is intrigued, because that drawer is where the schoolmaster keeps a special book that he reads while the children are studying. Becky doesn't know that the schoolmaster dislikes his job and dreams of better things. She only knows that everyone wants to know what the book is. Curiosity overcomes her, and she opens the drawer. The book is inside, and says "Anatomy" on the cover. Becky doesn't know what this means, but opens the book to a picture of a naked human figure. Tom enters the room, and Becky, frightened, slams the book shut, accidentally tearing the picture as she does. Becky, ashamed, locks the book back up and begins to cry. She yells at Tom for sneaking up on her and, convinced she will be whipped for ripping the book, storms out crying. Tom knows that the schoolmaster will find out who did it, and decides to do nothing. "'All right, though; she'd like to see me in just such a fix--let her sweat it out!'" Chapter 20, pg. 122

Once class begins again, Tom cannot help but feel a little sorry for Becky. Soon enough, he has his own problems. When his ruined spelling book is discovered, the schoolmaster whips him. Becky considers speaking up for him, but assumes he will tell on her about the schoolmaster's torn book. Later in the afternoon, the schoolmaster takes his Anatomy book out and begins to read. Tom glances at Becky, and decides to try and help her. Before he can do anything, however, the torn page is discovered. The schoolmaster begins to ask each child if they tore the book. As he asks Becky, Tom jumps up and tells the schoolmaster that he did it. The schoolmaster whips him again and makes him stay after school for two hours, but Tom doesn't care. All he cares about is how his brave lie has made Becky love him once again. Becky now adores him and tells Tom apologetically who poured ink in his spelling book. Tom goes to bed that night thinking partially of revenge against Alfred, but mostly of how thankful Becky was.

Topic Tracking: Growing Up 10

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