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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
CHAPTER 8: A Pirate Bold to Be
Depressed about Beckyís rejection of him, Tom goes to the nearby woods. The silence and the hot weather suit his mood, as he wishes that he could just die. He then thinks about going away somewhere, just disappearing. He imagines himself joining a band of Indians and moving to the far West or becoming a clown in the circus. Better still, he thinks about becoming a pirate. He determines he will leave home the next morning to pursue piracy.
Idly, Tom starts digging the earth with his knife to find the marble he has recently buried. He believes in the superstition that if a boy buries a marble and comes back two weeks later and digs it up, he will find all the marbles that he has ever lost. With this in mind, he starts digging in earnest, but finds no more marbles. As a result, his faith in superstitions takes a beating, and he tosses the marble away. He consoles himself by thinking that a witch probably has interfered.
His friend Joe soon joins him. Tom extracts toy weapons from their hiding place, and they pretend to be Robin Hood and Guy of Guisborne. Tom is almost on the point of being beaten when he tells Joe that according to the books, Robin Hood always wins. Joe bows to this fact and concedes the fight. They play for some more time and then, tired, they make their way home.
There is little action in this chapter. A depressed Tom goes away to the nearby woods to be alone and contemplate his poor treatment by Becky. Tom is never bothered by the cruel punishment he receives from his teacher. It is the treatment from the women in his life, Aunt Polly and Becky that make him miserable. The author, here too, highlights some of the superstitions that the children believe. When Tom finds one marble in the earth, he believes that he will find more, as the superstition indicates. When he does not find other marbles, his faith in superstitions is shaken.
When Joe joins Tom, he seems to forget all about Becky. The two boys play at being Robin Hood and Guy of Guisborne. Tom always wants to be in a commanding position and hates to lose a fight. When he is losing, he reminds Joe that he is Robin Hood, who always wins the fight. Joe acquiesces and lets Tom win. After their game of pretending is over, Tom and Joe agree that they would rather be outlaws for a year than the President of United States forever; being outlaws would allow them to live as they wish. The author again draws attention to Tomís free sprit and his dislike of being tied down.
Tomís romantic nature is developed in this chapter. He feels miserable at being spurned by Becky and grows melancholy about it. He wanders away to the wood to wallow in self-pity. There he contemplates dying or running away to become some romantic creature -- a clown or an Indian or a pirate. When Joe Harper arrives on the scene, they play a romanticized game of Robin Hood.