Chapter 21 Notes from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Chapter 21

As the school year ends, the schoolmaster acts even meaner, trying to make the children study hard for Examination day. The boys, tired of suffering under the schoolmaster's strict rules, begin to plot revenge against him. They plan something for the night of the Examinations, when their parents and others will be there to see. They get the sign-painter's boy to help, because his family rents rooms in the schoolmaster's house. The boy says he can take care of the first part of their revenge while the schoolmaster naps at home, knowing that he usually drinks before big events and will not be disturbed.

The night of the Examinations, the children make their presentations to the audience. They range from public speaking to Latin to spelling contests. Tom has to deliver the "Give me liberty or give me death" speech, but gets stage fright while doing it and falls apart. The older girls each read original compositions they've written, but they all seem like sermons, and they go on forever.

"The glaring insincerity of these sermons was not sufficient to compass the banishment of the fashion from the schools, and it is not sufficient to-day; it never will be sufficient while the world stands, perhaps." Chapter 21, pg. 128

Topic Tracking: Religion 6

After the compositions are done, the schoolmaster starts drawing a map on the chalkboard for a geography quiz, but he has had drank enough to be struggling and people in the audience begin to quietly laugh. The master, annoyed, continues to draw, but the laughing increases. What the master doesn't know is that a cat is quietly being lowered on a string above his head. As the cat struggles, it snatches the master's wig completely off, showing the entire room his bald head, which the sign-painter's boy painted gold while he was asleep. The boys have their revenge, and summer vacation begins.

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