Mess Post: Chore Vs. Privilege Vs. Showing Off


A fellow classmate of mine identified Chore vs. Privilege as a possible binary that exists in Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”. The whitewashing of the fence is a chore to Tom because he has to do it against his will, while all of his friends are preoccupied with play. However, Tom turns the whitewashing into a privilege by persuading Ben that it was not a chore but a privilege because a boy doesn’t get to whitewash a fence everyday.

This binary between Chore and Privilege however is shattered in Chapter 4 of the novel when Tom trades in tickets he bartered for in order to win a prize. To win the prize the student was supposed to recite 2,000 bible verses which Tom obviously did not do. However, Tom did not care for the prize. Twain says “It is possible that Tom’s mental stomach had never really hungered for one of those prizes, but unquestionably his entire being had for many a day longed for the glory and the eclat that came with it.” Tom wanted the privilege of praise that came from completing the chore of reciting the verses. He wanted to show off in front of his friends even though the praise was wrongfully earned