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The Dickens Project - Archives > The Old Curiosity Shop - Chapters XXXV-XL

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message 1: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 3027 comments Here's the folder for the Week No. 7 reading and discussion of Charles Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop. This folder is for discussion of Chapters XXXV through XL. Enjoy!

message 2: by Hedi (new)

Hedi | 960 comments In these chapters we learn more about the secretive lodger and "finally" again something about Kit's fate.

I thought the scene when the Brass's and Dick try to get into the lodgers room very funny, again one of these rather humoristic moments we have been encountering here and there in Dickens's works.
To me it was interesting that the lodger chose Dick to be his medium and does not really communicate with the Brass's.

What do you think of Miss Brass? She did not seem that terrible to me in the beginning, but the way she treated the little servant-girl was really cruel.

I liked the scenes with Kit very much. He is somehow this kind soul in the novel, the way he treats his family and how they celebrated his first quarter of employment. It was nice to see that people with so few things can enjoy themselves and be happy so much. I am just a little sorry for Barbara, as I think she has really fallen for him, and guess that his heart still belongs to Nell.
Therefore, it is especially nice for him to play a part in Nell's fortune by being involved by the lodger. It was just a little sad to see how concerned he was that the old man would not trust him and be pleased to see him.

Over all, I also like the Garlands. They reminded me a little bit of Mr. Brownlow and the others that took in Oliver Twist and took good care of him.

I have forgotten some of the things that I actually wanted to write, but maybe this will start the discussion and then I will remember the other things, too.

message 3: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2112 comments Mod
This section was quite lively, since Nell and her grandfather aren't in it!Kit is so charming and loyal, to Nell, to his family, and to his employers. Everyone loves him, even the pony. That makes it sadder that the grandfather doesn't trust him.

The description of the day out is delightful. I really liked the passage in Chapter 40 where Dickens talks about what it feels like the day after a holiday, the letdown and questioning if it really was so wonderful after all. He makes it a metaphor for life, saying "Such is the difference between yesterday and today. We are all going to the play, or coming home from it." That is, what we are looking forward to shapes how we feel right now. Fortunately, these simple people, Barbara, Kit and their mothers cheer themselves up, and don't get stuck in ennui as their richer counterparts do.

message 4: by Lynnm (last edited Jun 08, 2012 12:05PM) (new)

Lynnm | 3027 comments These chapters were some of Dickens at his best.

Poor Barbara...there is nothing worse than unrequited love. As they say, it is the "saddest love."

But at the same time, I think that I would have thought less of Kit if he had fallen completely for Barbara. Obviously, Nell left him (although I would argue that she didn't have a choice), but Kit's feelings for her couldn't have been that strong if the first young lady who walked his way had been able to turn his head.

I also loved the description of the day after the holiday. Sadly, true. It always takes me weeks to "recover" from my vacations.

And really liked Dickens' thoughts about Kit's very humble home. "The ties that bind the wealthy and the proud to home may be forged on earth, but those which link the poor man to his humble hearth are of the truer metal and bear the stamp of Heaven. The man of high descent may love the halls and lands of his inheritance as part of himself: as trophies of his birth and power; his associations with them are associations of pride and wealth and triumph; the poor man's attachment to the tenements he holds, which strangers have held before, and may to-morrow occupy again, has a worthier root, struck deep into a purer soil. His household gods are of flesh and blood, with no alloy of silver, gold, or precious stone; he has no property but in the affections of his own heart; and when they endear bare floors and walls, despite of rags and toil and scanty fare, that man has his love of home from God, and his rude hut becomes a solemn place."

That's something people today can learn from with their obsessions for McMansions and granite countertops... ;)

I wasn't sure about Miss Brass, but after her treatment of that poor servant girl, she is definitely in the "bad" column.

And was beginning to warm to Dick - and liked that he had concern for the servant girl - but then when he tried to get information out of Kit, he was again lowered in my opinion.

Last but certainly not least, Kit's arguments about not leaving Mr. and Mrs. Garland's and Mr. Abel's employment were touching. He's a good loyal boy. Ahough no one can take the place of Sam Weller in my heart, Kit is right up there in second place.

message 5: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 3027 comments Hedi wrote: "Therefore, it is especially nice for him to play a part in Nell's fortune by being involved by the lodger. It was just a little sad to see how concerned he was that the old man would not trust him and be pleased to see him."

Everything comes back to Quilp...his fault that the grandfather doesn't trust Kit. :-(

I can't remember from watching the mini-series who the stranger is to Nell and her grandfather, but glad to see that someone has come on the scene who might be able to help them out.

message 6: by Hedi (new)

Hedi | 960 comments Lynnm, I loved the description of Kit's humble situation, too, that you quoted. It really distinguishes poor from rich and makes the first in fact more sincere and partially even happier in my opinion. I think that is maybe also a reflection of Nell's grandfather's current situation and also of Dick. They are poor, but still try follow the attachments of the rich.

message 7: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2112 comments Mod
Good point Hedi, about those who are discontented with their lot being unhappy no matter what they have. I thought of the Cratchit family in Christmas Carol who are so happy with their small Christmas dinner and Scrooge (or Quilp) unhappy with all of his money. I think Dickens also realized that only works if the family is together and has at least a certain level of income.

message 8: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1812 comments Mod
I found the episode with Miss Brass and the servant girl to be as startling as when the grandfather stole money from Nell. While it had seemed clear from her initial descriptions that Miss Brass, with her absence of feminine charms, would not be a heroine, I rather expected her to be either one of those plain but good-hearted creatures such as Mrs Jarley or else an eccentric but benign character such as Short or Codlin. However her cruelty to such a weak and downtrodden thing as the servant girl was painful to read and cast her in an entirely new light. It will be interesting to see what Swiveller does with this new information about Miss Brass.

I look forward to solving the mystery of the lodger in search of Nell and her Grandfather.

message 9: by Zulfiya (new)

Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Sorry for the late post - I have been heavily involved into some other reading and blogging projects and the doing-nothing projects.

I agree with everyone that this must have been one of the most uplifting and happy sections in the book so far - the description of the day out was absolutely delightful (Robin, I stole your adjective) and heart-warming, and you can actually see the initial bonding between Kit's and Barbara's families. I think that Kit starts gradually understanding that Nell is a turned over page in his life - he recalls Nell every time he has an opportunity and keeps telling us and everybody around that she is the most angelic creature in the world. But let's recall the episode in the garden - his pledge of loyalty to the Garlands and the fact the Nell might not want his company should she return.
Personally, it is still hard to accept the fact that Christopher is a man who can start his family any time soon - I mean all the hints and implications about the romantic relationships and the fact that he had become the breadwinner and that he went to the pub to drink beer with Richard and many other small details.

The description of the aftermath of the day out definitely is one of the most humanistic in the book - Dickens understands our frustrations and lack of energy and a little bit of a hangover because he might have experienced the same things and that's what makes a true literary genius - not only his immense vocabulary and his humor, but the human foibles and weaknesses he is happy to admit.

Anyway, the mystery of the lodger still persists, and Dickens emphasizes it using the elusive phrases like 'the lodger' and 'the gentleman'. It definitely stirs our imagination and encourages to read further. Dickens and mystery are twin brothers:-)

message 10: by Lynnm (new)

Lynnm | 3027 comments Zulfiya - nice post (as always).

Dickens does indeed understand human nature.

message 11: by Zulfiya (new)

Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Lynnm wrote: "Zulfiya - nice post (as always).

Dickens does indeed understand human nature."

Thank you so much, Lynnm

I am going to be banal, but the pleasure of sharing and, first and foremost, reading the other posts and learning something new from them is mine. Somewhat surprisingly, I am already looking forward to reading his next novel Barnaby Rudge. I think the Dickensian conditioning rears its ugly head as soon as I have read the biggest part of a novel; thus, I am already impatiently anticipating the next big read!

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