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The Dickens Project - Archives > Barnaby Rudge - Chapters 29-34

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Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments It is time for the next Barnaby Rudge banter. This week we are discussing the next SIX chapters (29-34). Please post your thoughts below.

Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments This is the time of great temporal divide in the novel – the first part of the section is in the previous time frame while the other takes place five years later. And the most heart-wrenching episode took place in the first part – Joe decides to escape his semi-probation/ semi-imprisonment state and gets recruited. The saddest thing is that his mind is only half-set on his decision to join the army, but Dolly’s behavior antagonizes his feelings of not being an important part of anyone’s life and eventually he is doomed to be in the army, and so he disappears from our reading radars. I am sure he will be back, but so far the brave and noble heart is gone. And what to become of him? Is he the one who would be made to fire upon the people he loves and knows during the riots? Or will he be injured or killed? His life as a character is non-existent for us, at the very best temporarily.

N. B. It is interesting to observe Dickens’s talent as a public speaker and how they are all evident in the fabric of his writing. In chapter 29 Dickens appeals to such values as Charity, Universal Love, and Mercy, and that is one more brick in the wall of solid argument that the maestro was not only an entertaining story-teller and a genius of comical characterization, but he was also an ardent humanist, appealing to our sense of communal and decency. And as a contrast, he than moves on to Mr. Chester, who is definitely not a paragon of any of the virtues listed above. Contrast is extremely effective as a literary device to influence the receptive reading minds.

Unfortunately, Mr. Chester, Sr. keeps weaving his evil net to catch the innocent flies, and one of those victims is his own son. He (Mr. Chester) mercilessly destroys the son’s future matrimonial happiness and feels absolutely happy about his ‘deeds’.

And the final part of this section again and again poses more questions than answers. What’s more, this time it even has a supernatural flavor. The story is getting spookier and spookier. More reasons to read further and discuss.

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Robin | 1085 comments Mod
In the first part of the novel, we had a group of characters related by proximity, history, or family. By the end of the period before the 5 year break, they have begun to spin off. It is the young men who go. Barnaby has disappeared with his mother, Joe off to the army (recruiting tactics haven't changed much - see the world, meet girls, live well), and Edward also off somewhere. Interesting that Joe and Edward have the same experience of being misunderstood and unappreciated by their fathers, as well as unhappy in love.

Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments An excellent point, Robin. The novel is gradually turning into the reflection of the eternal conflict of fathers and sons. And the parallel plot lines makes the book actually more enjoyable.

Hedi | 804 comments Here are this week's running titles:

Ch. 29: John Willet and his retainer. Mr. Chester and Miss Haredale. Lord Chesterfield's letters.
Ch. 30: The irrepressible boy. The boy turns - like the worm.
Ch. 31: A recruiting serjeant. Good-bye to the Golden Key. Enlisted.
Ch. 32: Mr. Chester blushes.
Ch. 33: Glories of the Maypole Kitchen. Maypole ahoy! Solomon Daisy's fright.
Ch. 34: John Willet and Hugh. Hugh drinks a toast.

Hedi | 804 comments These chapters were a little strange, especially with this sudden and to me a little surprising break.
We have discussed the sudden disappearance of Barnaby Rudge and his mother previously. Now Edward Chester and poor Joe Willet are leaving the scene. And then the story almost seems to start all over again, 5 years later, with more or less the same characters in the Maypole and the reference to the gloomy day of March 19th and the Haredale murder mystery. As you said, Zulfiya, it raises again more questions instead of giving us more answers.

At least we have received one answer during these chapters related to Mr. Haredale's and Mr. Chester's relationship. They must have been friends until Mr. Chester was able to win over the heart of Mr. Haredale's love. As we know from chapter 15 she was endowed with a fortune and eager to step into a family in the best circles. It almost seems as if she might have been one of the first true victims of Mr. Chester's flattering and hypocritical ways.

Robin, great point about the father and son relationships.
I thought it was quite comical that John Willet was looking for his son, but referred to him as the little boy instead of a grown up man. I am not sure what Dickens intends to demonstrate with this father and son relationship.

Now that I am thinking about it more while writing this, those relationships are really interesting. In the one case, the father relies on his son to provide for him by marrying into a fortune (as the son does not do this, he speaks badly of him) and in the other case, the father cannot accept that time is moving on and his boy has become a grown up and independent man (and even by his leaving the father does not realize the actual status of his son and still continues to think of him as the little boy).

Sorry for my repeating things, but now I have actually been writing my whole thinking process.

Hedi | 804 comments One more thing that I have just forgotten:

I thought the beginning of the new time frame was pretty gothic again after we had left that during the last chapters.

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Robin | 1085 comments Mod
i don't think we've seen a break of time like this in other Dickens novels, except in an Epilogue. My guess is that he has to accommodate some actual historical events and he decide to work backward and forward from them.

I agree, the repetition of the Maypole scene and reference to the murder night is intriguing. In folk/fairy tales it's always 3 times that something happens, I wonder if we will get a 3rd March night.

Kind of touching that John Willett really misses his "boy" and keeps hoping he'll return I'm sure Mr Chester doesn't miss his at all, just thinks good riddance, unless his son were to turn up with a rich wife!

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Frances (FrancesAB) | 1169 comments Mod
I was also quite taken aback by the sudden 5 year jump-I expected at least to hear of some regrets from Dolly and from his father at Joe's leaving to join the army.

Hugh is clearly increasing in villainy-an interesting point where John Willett looks at him during their walk to the Warren and suddenly realizes he shouldn't trust him as much as he does, and that Mr Haredale also realizes this straight away upon seeing him.

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Amanda Garrett (AmandaElizabeth1) | 154 comments Hedi wrote: I thought it was quite comical that John Willet was looking for his son, but referred to him as the little boy instead of a grown up man. I am not sure what Dickens intends to demonstrate with this father and son relationship. ..."

I looked up the section about Barnaby Rudge in Peter Ackroyd's biography of Dickens and there was some interesting information about the father/son relationships in BR.

Dickens had a troubled relationship with his father, according to Ackroyd. Dickens always resented his father because he sent him off to work in a factory when he was a boy instead of letting him finish school. When Dicken's became a famous author his father was always trying to borrow money from him, which led to more resentment.

Ackroyd said that the bad feelings Dickens had for his father come through in his portrayal of Joe and John Willet and Ned and Mr. Chester.

Another interesting point is that Dickens actually owned a pet raven named Grip.

Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Amanda wrote: "Hedi wrote: I thought it was quite comical that John Willet was looking for his son, but referred to him as the little boy instead of a grown up man. I am not sure what Dickens intends to demonstra..."

Amanda, thank you for the very informative post. I loooove Peter Ackroyd; he is a true erudite and a brilliant mind.

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Hedi | 804 comments Amanda, thanks for that background information. I had not really thought about the difficult relationship that Dickens had with his father. He must have had a very traumatic childhood that he has to cope with it by writing so much about it. We discussed Mrs. Nickleby and Mrs. Varden, too, who seem to resemble his mother and now he is focusing on the relationship with his father. In later works we will even find more autobiographical elements.
Writing almost seems to be a kind of therapy for him.

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Hedi | 804 comments Robin wrote: "i don't think we've seen a break of time like this in other Dickens novels, except in an Epilogue. My guess is that he has to accommodate some actual historical events and he decide to work backwar..."

Robin, I had the same impression that Dickens might have gotten stuck with his characters and that time, but had to come to 1780 to get into the historical data. It just does not feel like a smooth flow to me. However, it was his first historical novel and aligning the fictional aspects with the historical ones might actually be the difficulty/ challenge of such a novel.

Christopher I really don't see why he couldn't have timed the whole novel close in upon the riots. But he is the master, and he will do what he pleases.

Do you think Gordon is being portrayed as a weak character and Gashford is driving him along?

Christopher This lord was sincere in his violence and in his wavering. A nature prone to false enthusiasm, and the vanity of being a leader, were the worst qualities apparent in his composition. All the rest was weakness—sheer weakness; and it is the unhappy lot of thoroughly weak men, that their very sympathies, affections, confidences—all the qualities which in better constituted minds are virtues—dwindle into foibles, or turn into downright vices.

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Amanda Garrett (AmandaElizabeth1) | 154 comments Christopher wrote: "Do you think Gordon is being portrayed as a weak chara..."

Lord George Gordon was a real person, although Gashford is a fictional character. Gordon was a British politician who led the Gordon Riots.

He has quite an interesting biography. It would really make a good novel just by itself. Here is a Wikipedia link. It does contain a couple spoilers

The truth is really stranger than fiction. (view spoiler)

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Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Amanda, thank you for sharing an interesting link. He was quite a character and relatively young during these riots. And I did not get this feeling of his young age from the novel.

Christopher, a good pair to compare and contrast and a very insightful observation, but I think those two guys are actually the focal point of our attention in the next section. I am going to open a thread and post my comments right now. Please do not forget to join us there:-) It is getting very political ...

Lynnm | 3027 comments I'm still a bit behind here - just finished the chapters today.

Nothing to add. Also noted the father/son dynamics and was surprised at the 5 year leap.

Posted mostly to let you know that I haven't forgotten you, and definitely haven't stopped reading. I'm enjoying it despite the fact that it seems a bit disjointed.

(We've noted this before, but maybe it seems a bit disjointed at times because it was serialized. Plots and characters sometimes take on lives of their own, and Dickens couldn't go back and edit once each chapter was published.)

Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments I think the 5 year leap might be partially explained in the section I am reading now (41-46).

Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Well,I hope it is not an awful spoiler - I have just finished reading this section, and the context for one of the chapters makes better sense within the five-year frame.

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