50 pages 1 hour read

Mark Twain

The Prince and the Pauper

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 1881

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Chapters 1-11Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 1 Summary: “The Birth of the Prince and the Pauper”

The book opens in fall on the day of Prince Edward and Tom Canty’s. Tom is unwanted by his poor family, as he inconveniences them as another mouth to feed. The nation rejoices at Edward’s birth, as he is the king’s long-awaited heir. London celebrates Edward’s arrival with parades and widespread joy while Tom’s family dresses him in rags and ignores him.

Chapter 2 Summary: “Tom’s Early Life”

Nearly a decade later, Tom lives in a decrepit part of London called Offal Court in one room of a communal house with his family, which includes his grandmother; his father, John Canty; his mother; and Nan and Bet, his 15-year-old twin sisters. Tom’s grandmother and father are both abusive and have alcohol addictions. They force him to beg, and if Tom does not bring home enough money, they beat him. Tom knows no other life and assumes this is normal.

Also living in Offal Court is the priest, Father Andrew. He takes Tom under his wing, educating him and telling him fairy tales filled with royal heroes. These tales make an impression on Tom, and he begins to recognize the flaws in life at Offal Court.

As Tom grows up, he begins to take on more princely mannerisms; he organizes a pretend royal court around himself, with his friends positioned in various “high offices.