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PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS
The adventures that Tom Sawyer experience are a loosely knit group of tales about a ten-year-old boy and the mischievous life he lives with his friends in St. Petersburg. The adventures are really grouped into two different plots; one is about Becky Thatcher and Tom and the other is about Tom, Huck, and Injun Joe.
The first plot results from Tom and Huck witnessing the murder of Doc Robinson. Out of fear of Injun Joe, neither boy tells that the Indian is the true murderer. Because of their silence, Muff Potter is arrested and jailed. Tomís conscience is really troubled by his silence; in the end, he cannot let an innocent man be executed. He goes to the lawyer and tells what he knows about the murder. The next day Tom takes the witness stand. When Injun Joe hears his testimony, he escapes out the window and goes into hiding. Tom discovers that Joe is back in town, disguised as a deaf and dumb Spaniard. He also knows that Joe has a treasure box filled with gold, which Tom is determined to take away. He and Huck keep watch on room 2, where Joe is staying, hoping to seize an opportunity to steal the gold away.
One night when Huck is watching the room by himself, Injun Joe emerges with his partner. Huck follows and overhears their plans to harm the Widow Douglas. Huck summons the Welshmen, who frighten Joe away. He goes into hiding in the cave, where Tom spies him when he and Becky are lost. After the children escape from the cave, the entrance is barred and locked with Joe inside. He dies from starvation, and Tom and Huck recover his treasure.
The second plot is about the love between Tom and Becky, which never progresses smoothly. Tom has to make a real effort to win her love. He does this by offering to teach her how to draw. In the midst of their first lesson, he confesses his love for her and talks her into being "engaged." Their engagement, however, is short lived when Becky learns that Tom has already been engaged to Amy Lawrence. Tom feels depressed about Beckyís rejection of his love. He thinks that life is not worth living and contemplates suicide. However, he soon gives up this idea and thinks of running away to become a pirate. He meets up with Joe Harper and Huck Finn and they escape to Jacksonís Island. Everyone in town thinks the boys have drowned and are miserable over the loss; Becky is extremely upset, for she blames herself. By the end of the book, they are a happy couple. Becky is delighted with Tom for saving her from the teacherís punishment and rescuing her from the cave.
Although the book is a loose tale of various adventures, Tom Sawyer is the tie that binds. He is seen as a character in almost every chapter of the book. He is the protagonist of both of the plots and brings both of them together in the cave adventure at the end of the book. Both plots end in comedy for Tom, for he overcomes his adversary and matures in the process.