RWM: A Tale of Two Cities, Book II, Chapter XIV

Previously: Book II, Chapter XIV | Coming Soon: Book II, Chapter X

Welcome to the thirteenth week of this read-with-me project. This week we read XIV: The Honest Tradesman. This section was first released in a magazine called All the Year Round on Saturday, July 24th 1859.

The story so far…
Last week Mr Stryver, who was initially interested in proposing to Lucie Manette was somewhat dissuaded by Mr Lorry. Sydney Carton had a lengthy conversation with Lucie where he proclaimed himself utterly unworthy of her.

In this chapter…
We fellow Mr Cruncher. In case you don’t remember him, Mr Cruncher featured in a chapter before Charles’ trial and acted as a messenger for Mr Lorry. He is one of the more comedic characters, especially in comparison to Mr Walking-Talking-Tragedy, Sydney Carton. That said this chapter shows that there is a darkness to his character both through his side-hustle and his relationship with his wife.

Mr Cruncher and his son Jerry watch a funeral procession. They learn from passers-by that it is the funeral of Roger Cly whom they claim to have been a spy, and who testified against Charles at his trial. This is a great example of mob mentality and mob conviction as they yell the accusation at others on the street to ‘convict’ them.

The Crunchers go home together, and we meet Mrs Cruncher for the first time. Mr Cruncher claims to be going ‘fishing’ and Jerry decides to sneak out of the house to follow him. This links back to the talk about spies by showing it happening on a much smaller scale. He sees his father meet some other men, and they proceed to dig up Cly’s body to sell to scientists. Essentially, the men are grave robbers, something which was abundant during this period.

After being frightened by the sight of the coffin and running home, Jerry asks his father what the term ‘resurection men’ means. He decides that this is the career for him. The use of the idea of resurrection is reminiscent of both Charles and Dr Manette who have in their own ways been recalled to life or resurrected.

What about you… Are you reading along with A Tale of Two Cities, and if so, what did you think of this section?

Dates for your diary:
Chapter XV on the 30th of July (Post: on the 1st of August)
Chapter XVI on the 6th of August (Post: 8th of August)
Chapters XXVII-XXVIII on the 13th of August (Post: 15th of August)

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