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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
CHAPTER 9: Tragedy in the Graveyard
In the evening, Tom and Sid are sent to bed as usual, but Tom is restless and cannot sleep. He is waiting for Huckís signal so that he can slip out of the house and join his friend for the experiment in the graveyard. When Tom finally hears Huckís "meow," he stealthily goes out of the house. The two boys enter the graveyard, find the grave of Hoss Williams, who has recently been buried, and wait for the hour of midnight. Suddenly, they hear noises and are scared. They cling together, petrified, and think that the devil is coming. They are, however, relieved to notice that they are only human voices, that of Muff Potter, Injun Joe, and Dr. Robinson. Muff and Injun Joe start digging Hoss Williamís grave, for they have been hired by Dr. Robinson to steal the body. After the grave is dug, Injun Joe picks an argument with Dr. Robinson and threatens to kill him. A drunken Muff Potter intervenes. In the scuffle, that follows, Potter is knocked down by the doctor and loses consciousness. Injun Joe kills the doctor by stabbing him with Potterís knife; he then puts the bloody knife in Potterís hand. When Muff regains consciousness, he is horrified to see the knife in his own hand. Injun Joe convinces him that he has killed the doctor. Unfortunately, due to his drunken state, Potter cannot recollect a single thing. Convinced that he is guilty, Muff begs Joe not to tell anybody. Joe promises and asks him to get away from the scene of the murder, taking care not to leave any incriminating clues behind. Tom and Huck, hidden from view, have witnessed the entire proceedings. When Doc Robinson is stabbed they can take no more and run from the scene.
In this chapter, there is a great change in the course of things. Up until this point, everything in the book has been light and humorous. Twain has portrayed Tom playing pranks, falling in love, interacting with his friends, and resisting school and church. Now he witnesses a murder, a real life adventure that is cruel, violent, and frightening. He and Huck have gone to the graveyard in the dead of the night to perform an exercise to remove warts through a dead cat. They are, however, interrupted in their ritual by three people, who they initially think are devils. Once they recover from their initial shock, they discover that the three men are Injun Joe, Muff Potter and Dr. Robinson. Dr. Robinson has hired these two men to rob Hoss Williamís grave. Once they uncover the grave, Injun Joe gets into an argument with Dr. Robinson. Muff Potter intervenes, and Potter is knocked unconscious. Injun Joe then kills Doc Robinson and blames Potter for the murder. The boys, quaking in fear, have watched everything.
Injun Joe is introduced and developed in the chapter as a truly despicable person. For a few dollars, he robs a grave in the dead of night. Then he intentionally gets into an argument with Doc Robinson, for whom he has a long-standing grudge. He kills the doctor for a trivial reason and then "pins" the murder on an innocent man. Twain succeeds in showing him to be wicked person.
In contrast, Twain depicts Muff Potter as dumb and innocent. He is known to be a drunk, and Injun Joe takes advantage of this fact. Injun Joe easily convinces Muff that he has killed the doctor, for he cannot remember anything due to his inebriated state.