We finally finished Tom Sawyer. Some of them just gave up on me. Some of them realized it got easier as they went along. Some of them actually enjoyed it. But ALL of them had fun during one of our last discussions of the book; it’s chapter 33, where Tom and Huck go back to the cave for the money.

Throughout the novel we talk about how Tom, when he plays, always has to “go by the book.” Or to use one of this week’s academic words, Tom always follows protocol. He climbs the fence, instead of running through the gate, after pelting Sid with dirt clods for ratting him out about the thread. He won’t “die” when Joe runs him through in their sword fight, because Tom’s playing Robin Hood, and he can’t die. He goes over the cliff with the ham, instead of using the trail, when they run away to the island, because that’s what a pirate would do. And he does it again in chapter 33. The bonus question on the quiz that day was…

“*Bonus: There is an example of Tom “going by the book” in chapter 33 which he would probably be very embarrassed about if he knew what he was saying. What word does Tom obviously not know the meaning of?”

There were a few kids who knew right away. Some realized when I gave them the page number. But many of them still didn’t clue in when I read the passage aloud. They just giggled along with the ones that did.

cave1“Now less fetch the guns and things,” said Huck.

“No, Huck — leave them there. They’re just the tricks to have when we go to robbing. We’ll keep them there all the time, and we’ll hold our or_ies there, too. It’s an awful snug place for or_ies.”

“What’s or_ies?”

I dono. But robbers always have or_ies, and of course we’ve got to have them, too.”

Rather than telling them, I just alt-tabbed to the screen to the definition at Merriam-Webster, and told them to read definition number two to themselves.

“And I don’t need you going home to Mom tonight, and saying, ‘Guess what we learned in English today?’ I don’t need those kinds of phone calls. What happens in D5 stays in D5, as they say in those Vegas ads.”

“What? What? I don’t ge.. EWWWWW!”

Remember, the word is also used in those other ways, but if you just sort of walked up to Mom and busted out that word, you’d probably get a talking to about “The Stirrings.”


Then one genius blurts out, “That Tom Sawyer is a player.”