With Tom's adventures on the road to Bristol and Sophia's preparations to flee her father, the novel's picaresque form takes control. The picaresque is the novel form used to describe journeys whose aim or destination is unclear from the outset. Neither Tom nor Sophia have a fixed destination, since they are traveling to escape somewhere.
The wars that have merely been alluded to by Squire Western and Mrs. Western in previous books become a reality as Tom confronts the army at the public house in Bristol. However, Fielding does not concern himself as much with the plight of the army as with the relationships between its members. For instance, Tom pays a bar tab to stop a brawl from erupting amongst the officers, and listens to the invented war stories of the Sergeant. Tom will never actually reach the wars, but they remain a constant presence throughout the novel.
This "historical" novel, then, is not a history of the Jacobite Rebellion, but is rather a collage of personal "histories," or stories. When Jones arrives at the public house, the landlord Robin and the quaker Broadbrim assail Tom with their narratives. They desire to hear his background, too, which Tom's guide has already divulged. The narrator contrasts Tom's genuine interest in stories with other characters' nosy curiosity.