Martin Chuzzlewit | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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Martin Chuzzlewit | Chapters 34–36 | Summary



Chapter 34: In Which the Travellers Move Homeward, and Encounter Some Distinguished Characters Upon Their Way

Martin and Mark are on a steamboat going away from Eden. A tall gentleman approaches Martin and asks if he realizes he is on a boat with Elijah Pogram, who is apparently a member of Congress. He introduces Martin to Elijah Pogram, who immediately asks him what he thinks of the United States. Martin replies that he can't give Elijah Pogram the answer he wants. Pogram twists this to be evidence of the British hatred of the U.S. Mark joins the conversation, and Pogram takes any criticisms they have toward the U.S. as an attack on the country. During dinner, Martin and Elijah Pogram get into a full-on argument, wherein Martin unleashes his opinions of Americans and American culture.

Upon arriving back to where they first set off for Eden, Martin and Mark encounter Captain Kedgick. The captain is not particularly pleased to see them, and says that others will be unhappy to see them back alive. Elijah Pogram is invited to a meeting, where the men ask him questions about politics and the women observe. The citizens later reveal that they have erected a terrible marble statue of Pogram.

Martin and Mark sell the last of their supplies back to the store where they bought them. They receive a letter from Mr. Bevan asking them to come visit him at a hotel in New York, so they go to meet him. Martin apologizes for having to beg Mr. Bevan for money. Mr. Bevan apologizes for unknowingly being the cause of their misfortune. Martin says they wouldn't have gotten into so much trouble if he had listened to Mark. He tells Mr. Bevan "live and learn ... Nearly die and learn; we learn the quicker."

Martin tells Mr. Bevan that they mean to return to England, and Mr. Bevan agrees that this is probably for the best. He tells Martin that the Screw is in port and sails tomorrow, but Martin says they can't afford passage. Mark goes to the ship and they hire him on as the cook, the wages for which will pay Martin's passage. They both thank Mr. Bevan for his help, and he tells them that they can repay him by warning people about emigrating. On board the ship, Mark and Martin reflect on their experiences. Mark says that America is "like a Bat, for its short-sightedness; like a Bantam, for its bragging; like a Magpie, for its honesty; like a Peacock, for its vanity ... " and Martin replies that it is also "like a Phoenix, for its power of springing from the ashes of its faults."

Chapter 35: Arriving in England, Martin Witnesses a Ceremony, From Which He Derives the Cheering Information That He Has Not Been Forgotten in His Absence

Mark and Martin return to England and are very happy to be home. They notice small changes that have taken place in their absence. They head straight for a tavern and enjoy watching the street and drinking their beer. They debate what their first step should be now that they're back. Mark brings up seeing Mary, but Martin points out that he doesn't know where she is. Mark suggests they go to the Dragon and get the news from Mrs. Lupin and Tom Pinch. They realize they will have to walk, as they can't afford to pay for a ride. They are discussing the particulars of their journey when Mr. Pecksniff walks by. They watch, dumbfounded, as the landlord goes out into the street to talk to Mr. Pecksniff.

After Mr. Pecksniff leaves, they approach the landlord and ask why Mr. Pecksniff is in town. The landlord says Mr. Pecksniff is a great architect and has come to lay the first stone for a new public building. The landlord says the ceremony is about to begin immediately. Martin and Mark hurry off to see the ceremony. They press near to see the plans for the building, and Martin is incensed to realize that they are plans he made for a grammar school. Mark restrains him from doing something stupid. Martin becomes very bitter, but Mark tells him to be positive and trust that the situation will turn out all right in the end. Martin resolves himself to follow Mark's advice.

Chapter 36: Tom Pinch Departs to Seek His Fortune. What He Finds at Starting

Salisbury feels like a different town to Tom Pinch now that he has been disillusioned. Tom's acquaintance, the organist's assistant, advises Tom to go to London. Tom had already been thinking this as well, since John Westlock and Tom's sister are both in London. He makes arrangements to go, and has an enjoyable coach ride to London.

Upon arriving in London, Tom finds John Westlock and tells him what happened. Seeing how heartbroken Tom is, John feels bad for teasing Tom about Mr. Pecksniff. John insists that Tom must stay with him, and Tom feels bad but agrees. While John steps out momentarily, Tom reads the classifieds in the paper in hopes of finding a job. He grumpily observes that the people who write the advertisements don't actually want what they claim they do.

The next morning Tom goes to visit his sister at the house where she is a governess. The servants are rude to him, and Tom worries that Ruth is being badly treated. While waiting for Ruth, Tom hears an argument in the next room. The porter announces Tom and the argument abruptly stops, and Ruth runs out to meet him. Tom tells her that if she's not happy there, she doesn't have to remain. The master and mistress of the house call for Tom and Ruth, and they go to them. They tell Tom that they are very displeased with Ruth because she has no ability to make her student respect her. Tom replies that the child's inability to respect others is something she learned from her parents, and not from Ruth. He then proceeds to reprimand them for thinking they may treat Ruth how they wish just because they pay her a salary. Ruth and Tom leave the house.

Now that Tom has Ruth with him, he realizes he can't stay at John Westlock's home anymore, so they find lodgings in Islington. After doing the shopping together, Tom heads out to meet John Westlock and tell him what has happened.


Dickens wraps up the American portion of his story with a very clear analogy between qualities of different birds and the qualities of the United States. The eagle is not one of the birds used in the comparison.

The threads of the story are beginning to draw together. Martin and Mark have done their character growth (or at least Martin has) in America, and can now head back to England changed men. Martin is now closer to being worthy of Mary, as he has lost some of his selfishness and gained a clearer view of the true worth of the people around him.

Tom Pinch is undergoing his own process of growth, striking out on his own and taking his sister under his care. His process of disillusionment with Mr. Pecksniff was necessary for him to move forward. Part of his process of independence includes speaking up for his sister and finding his own places to live. Having Ruth with him forces him to strike out on his own, instead of living under the kindness of John Westlock.

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