Summary Of An Excerpt From Tom Sawyer

330 WordsSep 24, 20092 Pages
SUMMARY OF THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER Summary of the Adventures of Tom Sawyer Using the Cognitive Dissonance theory 09/10/09 Summary of the Adventures of Tom Sawyer Using the Cognitive Dissonance theory In the excerpt from “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain, Tom cajoles his friend Ben into taking over the task of whitewashing the fence for him and in the process Ben gives Tom an apple for letting himself do the work that Tom did not want to do. He does this by employing the cognitive dissonance theory. Cognitive dissonance comes about when we have more than one conflicting thought in our mind at the same time. This conflict increases based on the importance of the subject, the strength of the conflict of thoughts, and our inability to rationalize and explain the conflict to ourselves (Festinger, 1957). Tom Sawyer was able to stimulate a situation of cognitive dissonance within Ben. Tom recognized that although Ben was not partial to work and that he would want to participate in the whitewashing if he thought Tom was enjoying it or if he thought the task was of some great importance. Tom immediately recognized this and led Ben to believe that he was really enjoying whitewashing the fence and also added to the dissonance by insisting that Aunt Polly would not let just anybody do it, creating an aura of importance as to the whitewashing. The idea Tom instilled in Ben that the job Tom was doing was not only fun but was of some importance and Ben’s own idea of having fun created a state of cognitive dissonance that peaked a situation of discomfort within Ben. This dissonance or discomfort was eased for Ben when Tom agreed to let Ben participate in the (fun) and revel in the importance of the job he was doing for Aunt Polly.

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