Tom Jones

Summary

Book III

Summary Book III

Squire Western, Allworthy's neighbor, arrives with further accusations against Black George head. On an evening walk, however, Tom leads Allworthy and Blifil to Black George's abode, where the family's poverty excites Allworthy's empathy. Allworthy gives money to Black George's wife for clothes for the children. At home, Tom further on the family's behalf, and Allworthy promises to support them. Tom runs through the rain to tell them the good news. The narrator warns, however, that Black George's fortune is about to take a down turn.

Chapter X

Although Blifil remains mute in Tom's presence, when Tom leaves he recalls an incident that occurred about a year after Allworthy dismissed Black George: with his family on the brink of starvation, Black George killed and sold a hare to a middleman. The middleman was suspected of poaching and, obliged to provide a scapegoat named Black George to Squire Western. In telling the story, Blifil contorts the facts and says that Black George poached dozens of hares. Disgusted, Allworthy promises Tom he will continue to support Black George's family, but he does not want to hear Tom mention the game-keeper's name again.

Tom attempts to clear Black George's name by appealing directly to Squire Western, with whom he has become friendly through his sporting skills. Squire Western, vastly impressed with Tom, now shares his horses, dogs, and guns freely with Tom. Squire Western loves his seventeen-year-old daughter, and Tom therefore decides to take his appeal to her. However, since this girl is "the intended Heroine of this Work," the narrator does not deem it appropriate to introduce her at the end of a book. The narrator cautions us that he himself is in love with her, and expects many readers to fall in love with her by the end of the novel.

Analysis

Book III charts the maturation of the novel's hero, Tom Jones, from age fourteen to nineteen. Although the narrator feigns reserve in Chapter II at having to introduce a flawed hero, his admiration for Tom's generosity and altruism subtly emerges in the way that he contrasts Tom Jones with his foil, Master Blifil. The characterization of these rivals is typical of Fielding's characterization throughout the novel: he couches bad characters' vices in a favorable light, while feigning a cheeky disapproval of the good characters' vices. For example, the narrator makes it clear that Blifil's "virtues" breed nothing but a sniveling predilection for tattling. This method of characterization results in the narrator developing an ironic stance toward Blifil, and the obvious differences between what the narrator claims he wants to show of Blifil and what he actually does show creates a rift that works to reveal Blifil's hypocrisy.

The narrator does not intend, however, for us to see Tom and Allworthy as perfect. Indeed, by calling Tom his "Heroe," he means to reinvent the term, for, as he clearly states in Chapter V, he does not "pretend to introduce any infallible characters into this History."

The narrator mockingly elevates the small scale of his plot by using hyperbolical language. The exaggerated idea of Blifil's tears "galloping" from his eyes in Chapter IV underscores Blifil's parochial small-mindedness. In spite of his concern for language and terminology, the narrator admits that he prefers to show rather than tell, and his use of stage metaphors in relation to the writing process underscores his desire to depict scenes rather than states of mind. The worthiest characters in the book conform to this style of narration by being particularly active: Allworthy and Jones constantly engage in charitable actions, while the only action the allegedly pious Square and Thwackum indulge in is whipping Tom.