A Tale of Two Cities | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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A Tale of Two Cities | Book 3, Chapter 9 : The Game Made | Summary



Mr. Jarvis Lorry is appalled that Jerry Cruncher has been body snatching illegally on the side, and threatens to report Jerry when they get back to England. But Jerry defends himself. First, they've worked together many years. Then, medical doctors bank at Tellson's and might right now be "a cocking their medical eyes at [an honest] tradesman [like Jerry] on the sly"; Lorry can't "sarse the goose and not the gander." Jerry says his son is old enough to take over Jerry's position at Tellson's, and Jerry can make amends by becoming a gravedigger and burying bodies rather than digging them up. Lorry softens slightly and says he needs to see Jerry repent "in action—not in words."

Sydney Carton comes out of the other room with Barsad and bids the spy "Adieu." Carton tells Lorry that if things don't go well for Darnay, he has access to the prisoner "once"; to ask more of Barsad would condemn him as surely as denouncing him would. They agree that access would not be enough to save him. Lorry cries. Carton tells him he is "a good man and a true friend," and Lorry, suddenly seeing "the better side" of Carton, takes the younger man's hand. Carton tells him not to tell Lucie, lest she think the meeting was to give Darnay some means of killing himself. Carton thinks he should not see Lucie and asks the older man not to mention him to her. He asks how she looks; Lorry replies, "Anxious and unhappy, but very beautiful." Carton's grief is apparent.

Lorry's work in Paris is finished; he has his "Leave to Pass" and had intended to leave once he knew Lucie's family to be safe. Carton remarks that Lorry has led a long and useful life, "steadily and constantly occupied; trusted, respected, and looked up to," and when Lorry says no one will mourn him, reminds him that Lucie and her child will do so, for which he can be thankful. Carton suggests that if he had not been useful, trusted, respected, and loved, his 78 years would be "seventy-eight heavy curses." They talk of Lorry's childhood memories, and Carton says, "my young way was never the way to age." Then he walks Lorry to Lucie's gate, promising to be in court in the morning.

Carton then walks to La Force prison, following in Lucie's steps on her daily visits. At the prison, he meets the wood-sawyer, who is smoking a pipe. The little man was watching executions today and is delighted by how fast the executioner worked: "He shaved the sixty-three to-day, in less than two pipes!" He recommends Carton go and watch tomorrow's executions. Next, Carton stops at a dingy old pharmacy on the left bank, where he buys several items. The pharmacist warns him to keep them separate, and Carton assures the man he knows "the consequences of mixing them." Back on the street, Carton remembers the words read at his father's graveside: "I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die." Thinking of everyone who died that day and are yet to die on the guillotine, he sadly recrosses the Seine to the better part of town. Outside a theater, a woman and her daughter are trying to cross the muddy road. Carton carries the little girl over the mud, asking for a kiss as he puts her down. He walks nearly all night, hearing the Bible passage in the echoes of his footsteps. In the morning, he naps on the riverbank, waking with the words still in his mind and seeing "a bridge of light [spanning] the air between him and the sun, while the river sparkled under it."

Carton goes to the Tribunal. Lorry is there with Lucie and Dr. Manette. When Darnay comes in, Lucie's look of encouragement and love " brighten[s] his glance, and animate[s] his heart"; it has the same effect on Carton. The judges, the jury, and the audience, however, look murderous. The prosecutor reports that three people have denounced Darnay: Monsieur Defarge, Madame Defarge, and "Alexandre Manette, physician." Dr. Manette protests loudly, saying this is a fraud and he would never denounce his son-in-law. Monsieur Defarge is called to testify, and, staring at his wife the entire time he is speaking, testifies that when he stormed the Bastille, he found a written paper hidden behind a stone in Dr. Manette's cell. The President of the Tribunal orders the paper read.


Through his actions in this chapter, Jarvis Lorry and others learn that Sydney Carton is the generous, kind, loving person Lucie has known him to be. Lorry has teared up before. In this chapter, he reacts to Carton's plan, which is to go to Charles Darnay if he is condemned to death, by breaking down and crying. In response, Carton exposes his true self, treating Lorry with the tenderness of a son. The two men have an unusual conversation about the value of one's life and what it feels like to look back over one's life as when approaching the end of it. Lorry points out that Carton is still young, but Carton says, "my young way was never the way to age." This implies he also feels as if his life were approaching its end. Later, when he's on his own, Carton meditates on the prayer said over his father's grave, again leading readers to believe he's approaching death. But he seems to be facing it peacefully. The words also reinforce the theme of resurrection, which will play out in greater detail in the next few chapters. The truth about Carton's death is foreshadowed by the wood-sawyer's recommendation that he attend the executions the next day.

During the night, Carton buys several substances from a pharmacist that should not be mixed together. Readers suspect he's going to use them to help Darnay, but it isn't clear how.

In the courtroom, the announcement that the third person to denounce Darnay is Alexandre Manette comes as a shock to Dr. Manette, but Dickens foreshadowed the existence of this paper earlier in the novel, when Darnay told Dr. Manette the story of writings found in a prisoner's cell. Again, Dickens leaves the contents of the paper to come in the next chapter so as to build suspense.

In the courtroom, Lucie is a model of strength and love, watching Darnay steadily in such a way as to encourage him and give him strength. She knows Darnay is terrified, and if she were to act on her own terror, it would make him feel far worse. Lucie puts Darnay's emotional state above her own—again, the theme of self-sacrifice—by setting aside her terror and exhibiting only the emotions and strengths that will help Darnay get through this trial knowing he is loved. Their eyes are locked on one another's; Lucie only looks away to impart some strength to her father, who is stunned.

Defarge, too, is looking at his wife as he testifies, but her eyes are "feasting" on Darnay. Everyone else is looking at the doctor, "who [sees] none of them"; he is watching the reader. The direction of each person's gaze reveals their strongest feelings. What matters most to Darnay is Lucie; the two people in the room whom Lucie loves most are Darnay and her father; Dr. Manette is overwhelmed by the horror contained in the letter; the onlookers are fascinated by and greedy for the doctor's horror. Defarge's choices, such as his choice to testify against the family of an old friend and a hero of the Republic, are dictated by his love for his wife; but Madame Defarge, whose life is dominated by vengeance, has eyes only for Darnay—the first name on her personal register of the condemned.

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