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Free MonkeyNotes Summary-The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 4: Showing off in Sunday School

Summary

Tom has to memorize verses from the Bible and recite them in Sunday school, a task for which he shows little inclination. His cousin Mary coaxes and coaches him in the memory work. On Sunday, he goes off to church, dressed in his best suit, another task he hates, for clean, dress clothes make him uncomfortable. In Sunday school, he is his same mischievous self. He pulls the hair of the boy seated in front of him and pricks another one with a pin.

The children are asked to recite their verses from the Bible. If they are successful, they are rewarded with tickets of different colors - blue, red, or yellow. If one collects ten yellow tickets, which represent memorizing 2,000 verses, the student can exchange them for a Bible, a reward sought after by all the children. The clever Tom begins trading his "wealth," collected from the whitewashing incident, for various tickets; he is very successful in the effort.

After Sunday school, the students go to church. Mr. Walters, the Sunday school Superintendent, introduces the congregation to the newly arrived Judge Thatcher, his wife, and daughter Becky, the girl whom Tom had met and fallen in love with the previous day. Mr. Walters, hoping to impress the Thatchers, wants to award a Bible to one of the children in exchange for ten yellow tickets. He asks for any student with the appropriate number of tickets to come forward. To everyone's astonishment, Tom triumphantly produces the required number of yellow tickets and walks away with the much sought after Bible. Tom becomes a hero in the eyes of all those present, even Becky.


Tom is personally introduced to Judge Thatcher, but he is so nervous that he does not utter a word. The Judge praises him for his knowledge of the Bible and asks him to recite the names of the first two disciples of Jesus. Tom, nervous and unsure of himself, musters up enough courage to answer that they were David and Goliath!

Notes

The chapter describes a typical Sunday in the small town of St. Petersburg. The children attend Sunday school, where a boring teacher teaches them their lessons. In turn, the children, especially the young boys, are restless, noisy, and mischievous. Tom is one of the most poorly behaved. In contrast, Sid is the very image of the "good boy".

After Sunday school, everyone attends church and listens to a long, dull sermon. On this particular Sunday, there is some excitement, however, for a new family has arrived in town. Mr. Walters has the pleasure of introducing Judge Thatcher and his family. In order to show off to them, Mr. Walters decides to award the Bible to one of the students in exchange for ten yellow tickets. Tom, who has fraudulently gained the ten tickets, collects the prize, much to everyoneís amazement. His trickery is uncovered, however, when he is asked by the Judge to give the names of the first two disciples of Jesus. Tom can only answer with the two Biblical names that he knows -- David and Goliath.

In this chapter, more insight is given into Tomís character. He hates going to Sunday school, for it cramps his free spirit. He does not like to bathe and dress up in clean, good clothes; he does not like to study Bible verses; and he does not like to sit quietly through a dull and boring Sunday school lesson and sermon. It is really too much for the mischievous Tom to handle, and he resorts to his typical childish pranks and behavior. The clever boy trades his treasures to obtain the coveted yellow tickets and is actually able to produce the necessary ten and win the much sought after Bible. Since the congregation knows Tom quite well, they are amazed and impressed that he has been able to learn 2,000 Bible verses. Of course, Judge Thatcher exposes his lack of knowledge and obvious trickery. Tom is mortified that he has been exposed in front of Becky, the new "love of his life."

The character of Mary is also introduced in this chapter. Like Sid, she is Tomís cousin, only older; but unlike him, she is kind, good-hearted, gentle, and loving. She earnestly cares about Tom and tries to teach him and encourage him to behave through gentleness and bribery. She also insists that he wash and dress properly for Sunday school.

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