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Reading Fiction: Tom Sawyer

In this worksheet, students read an extract from Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain and analyse the text through the questions that follow.

'Reading Fiction: Tom Sawyer' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:   Reading

Curriculum subtopic:   Check Understanding

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain (1835-1910)

In this extract, Tom has been told to paint the fence as a punishment.

 

 

Ben Rogers hove in sight presently - the very boy, of all boys, whose ridicule he had been dreading. Ben's gait was the hop-skip-and-jump - proof enough that his heart was light and his anticipations high. He was eating an apple, and giving a long, melodious whoop, at intervals, followed by a deep-toned ding-dong-dong, ding-dong-dong, for he was personating a steamboat.

 

Tom went on whitewashing -- paid no attention to the steamboat. Ben stared a moment and then said: "Hi- yi ! You're up a stump, ain't you!"

 

No answer. Tom surveyed his last touch with the eye of an artist, and surveyed the result, as before. Ben ranged up alongside of him. Tom's mouth watered for the apple, but he stuck to his work. Ben said: "Hello, old chap, you got to work, hey?" ...

 

 

Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said: "What do you call work?"

 

"Why, ain't that work?"

 

Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly: "Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain't. All I know, is, it suits Tom Sawyer."

 

"Oh come, now, you don't mean to let on that you like it?"

 

The brush continued to move. "Like it? Well, I don't see why I oughtn't to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?"

 

...Presently he said: "Say, Tom, let me whitewash a little."...

 

"Ben, I'd like to, honest injun; but Aunt Polly -- well, Jim wanted to do it, but she wouldn't let him; Sid wanted to do it, and she wouldn't let Sid. Now don't you see how I'm fixed? If you was to tackle this fence and anything was to happen to it -- "

 

"Oh, shucks, I'll be just as careful. Now lemme try. Say -- I'll give you the core of my apple." ...

 

Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart.

 

...Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all.

 

 

Now answer the following questions on the extract. If you need to read the extract again, you can look at it by clicking on the Help button.

Match up the old-fashioned words from the extract with a modern equivalent.

Column A

Column B

hove
eagerness
melodious
tuneful
contemplated
thought
alacrity
appeared
hollow
empty

Why is Tom afraid of seeing Ben? Which is the correct word - beginning with "r'' - from the list below?

roughness

racism

ridicule

The writer describes Ben's behaviour with a list: "hop, a skip and a jump". What does this show us about his behaviour? Tick THREE boxes.

positive

happy

angry

frustrated

gleeful

Why does Tom ignore Ben when he is "personating a steamboat" and keeps his eyes on the fence and his painting?

Tom isn't interested in boats.

If Tom doesn't look at Ben, he hopes he will leave him alone.

He really loves painting the fence.

 When Ben starts hinting that Tom is having to work hard, how does Tom surprise him?

Select the name of the type of sentence he uses when he says "What do you call work".

 

Is it a statement, a question, a command or an exclamation?

statement

question

command

exclamation

Which of these statements is true? Tick THREE boxes.

Tom was afraid of Ben.

Ben was painting the fence first.

Tom pretends he loves painting the fence, so Ben gets jealous.

They have a massive paint-fight.

Ben ends up painting the fence for Tom.

Ben says: "I'll give you the core of my apple" (if you let me paint the fence).

 

When we promise to give someone something in return for a favour like this we call it a b_________. (Write the full word in the text box below.)

Tom and Ben are young boys here, they use some informal language (slang) to speak to each other. Which of the following words from the extract are informal and which are formal?

 InformalFormal
Whitewashing
Heart
Shucks
Lemme
Core
Stump
Carelessly
Chap

Read this quotation from the extract:

"Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart."

 

What does it tell us about Tom as a character? Tick THREE boxes.

He is a good actor.

He is happy that he's tricked Ben.

He is nasty.

He is clever.

He is horrible to the other boys.

The last line of the extract says:

"Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all."

 

Read the following proverbs - which one has a similar meaning to this quote?

It's raining cats and dogs.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Be careful what you wish for, it might just come true.

  • Question 1

Match up the old-fashioned words from the extract with a modern equivalent.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

hove
appeared
melodious
tuneful
contemplated
thought
alacrity
eagerness
hollow
empty
EDDIE SAYS
'Hove' means to move into a certain position. It comes from the word 'heave'.
'Alacrity' means to be cheerful and willing.
  • Question 2

Why is Tom afraid of seeing Ben? Which is the correct word - beginning with "r'' - from the list below?

CORRECT ANSWER
ridicule
EDDIE SAYS
Tom was afraid of seeing Ben because he feared Ben's ridicule.
  • Question 3

The writer describes Ben's behaviour with a list: "hop, a skip and a jump". What does this show us about his behaviour? Tick THREE boxes.

CORRECT ANSWER
positive
happy
gleeful
EDDIE SAYS
A "hop, a skip and a jump" implies that Ben is leaping with glee and happiness.
  • Question 4

Why does Tom ignore Ben when he is "personating a steamboat" and keeps his eyes on the fence and his painting?

CORRECT ANSWER
If Tom doesn't look at Ben, he hopes he will leave him alone.
EDDIE SAYS
Tom is trying his best to avoid Ben because he is afraid of his "ridicule".
  • Question 5

 When Ben starts hinting that Tom is having to work hard, how does Tom surprise him?

Select the name of the type of sentence he uses when he says "What do you call work".

 

Is it a statement, a question, a command or an exclamation?

CORRECT ANSWER
question
EDDIE SAYS
Tom is asking Ben a question.
  • Question 6

Which of these statements is true? Tick THREE boxes.

CORRECT ANSWER
Tom was afraid of Ben.
Tom pretends he loves painting the fence, so Ben gets jealous.
Ben ends up painting the fence for Tom.
  • Question 7

Ben says: "I'll give you the core of my apple" (if you let me paint the fence).

 

When we promise to give someone something in return for a favour like this we call it a b_________. (Write the full word in the text box below.)

CORRECT ANSWER
bribe
EDDIE SAYS
A bribe is defined as an attempt to persuade someone to act in your favour, typically illegally or dishonestly, by a gift of money or other motive.
  • Question 8

Tom and Ben are young boys here, they use some informal language (slang) to speak to each other. Which of the following words from the extract are informal and which are formal?

CORRECT ANSWER
 InformalFormal
Whitewashing
Heart
Shucks
Lemme
Core
Stump
Carelessly
Chap
  • Question 9

Read this quotation from the extract:

"Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart."

 

What does it tell us about Tom as a character? Tick THREE boxes.

CORRECT ANSWER
He is a good actor.
He is happy that he's tricked Ben.
He is clever.
  • Question 10

The last line of the extract says:

"Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all."

 

Read the following proverbs - which one has a similar meaning to this quote?

CORRECT ANSWER
Every cloud has a silver lining.
EDDIE SAYS
Every cloud has a silver lining means that even a bad thing can end up better than you thought. Tom thought he would have to work hard all day, but in the end, Ben did it for him.
---- OR ----

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