The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Discussion Questions

Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

Classrooms across the country continue to use Mark Twain's classic tale as a teaching tool. Here you will find intriguing discussion questions to use in your literature classroom for this novel.

Tom Sawyer's Escapades

Since its publication in 1876, Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer has captivated readers of all ages. Who can resist liking the endearing scamp, Tom Sawyer, as he tricks friends, teachers, family, and the whole town with his schemes and pranks?

Your students will also enjoy reading about his exploits, many of whom will wish they had the courage to pull off some of the same stunts. Read on to find challenging discussion questions for a class that has read this classic novel.

Plot Questions

  • In Chapter 29, we see Injun Joe's plan for revenge against the Widow. When did we last see him take revenge on someone? What is the underlining reason he seeks revenge (think about the prejudice held against him)? What does this tell us about his character? If he had been treated differently throughout his life, do you think he would be so violent now?
  • Near the finale, Huck does a heroic deed for the Widow. This changes how Huck is treated by other townspeople, who held prejudices against him. Describe these changes. Why was he treated so badly before? How is that similar to how Injun Joe has been treated his whole life? Explain.
  • How does Twain describe the boys' adventures camping out on Jackson Island? Why did each boy want to run away? Compare to their adventures to their experiences in school. What are Twain's thoughts on about nature and civilization?
  • What do Tom and Huck think about what they witness in the graveyard? How would you feel? What choices do they have to make? What choice would you make if you were in their place? Connect this to a decision you have had to make in the past.
  • Describe the murder in the graveyard scene and what happens to Muff Potter afterward. How does Tom's personality change after Muff Potter is arrested? How is he different from earlier in the novel?

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