Book 6 Chapter 11 of Tom Jones.

This is part of an ongoing project in which I will record and post one chapter per week of Henry Fielding's Tom Jones over the course of four years.

If the early portions of the book presented Squire Allworthy's estate as an Edenic ideal, well, then, it shouldn't come as any surprise that poor, (less-than-) innocent Tom would be forced into exile. In this case, though, it isn't because the Devil tricked Tom into sinning, it's that Blifil tricked Allworthy into believing Tom was a reprobate, and Allworthy is far too polite to come out and actually say what he's accusing Tom of.

So, Tom gets driven out-of-doors, with nothing but the clothes on his back (and, of course, 500 pounds). In this way, Tom is not only Adam, but he's also the prodigal son, who gets his inheritance early and leaves.

We also get to see the return of the court of public opinion, who believe that Tom is Mr. Allworthy's son, and therefore, that Squire Allworthy is the worst of fathers for casting his own son out. Mr. Allworthy, being less-than-perfect, hasn't hewn too closely to Fielding's admonishment that it's not enough that your actions be good, but also that they appear good to the world.

AuthorMark Turetsky