Martin Chuzzlewit | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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Martin Chuzzlewit | Chapters 40–42 | Summary



Chapter 40: The Pinches Make a New Acquaintance, and Have Fresh Occasion for Surprise and Wonder

Tom goes to work every day and contemplates the question of who his employer might be. He doesn't believe it's Mr. Fips and cannot come up with any answers. Tom listens constantly for the footsteps of his employer, wondering when he will meet him. When Tom meets with Mr. Fips to receive his first week's salary, Mr. Fips tells him not to mention the particulars of his job to anyone. Tom says that he'd like to meet his employer to thank him and find out if he is satisfied with Tom's work. Mr. Fips says Tom is doing a fine job.

Since Tom has no organ to play, he takes long walks with his sister every morning instead. One morning, while looking out at the boats, they run into Mrs. Gamp. She is there watching the boats for something. She seems to find what she's looking for when she sees a cloaked gentleman and a lady boarding one of the boats. Tom is distracted by a hand on his arm, and turns to find his landlord standing there. The landlord asks Tom if he sees a man swathed in a black cloak with a lady in a black shawl getting onto a boat, and Tom points them out. The landlord then asks Tom to take the cloaked man a letter, which Tom does. When he gets near the cloaked man he realizes that it is Jonas. Tom tells Jonas that he hadn't recognized him, but was just asked to deliver a letter.

Jonas opens the letter and looks shocked. He pulls Mercy off the boat and drags her off the boat. Mr. Tigg is waiting there, and asks if they were going on a "continental trip." Mrs. Gamp introduces herself when Mr. Tigg asks who she is. Jonas asks Mrs. Gamp to go home and goes off angrily and sulkily with Mr. Tigg. Tom and Ruth are left there wondering what is going on.

Chapter 41: Mr. Jonas and His Friend, Arriving at a Pleasant Understanding, Set Forth Upon an Enterprise

Mr. Tigg takes Jonas to the company office. Jonas remains silent and angry all the way there, but with an air of self-possession that he didn't have before. When they arrive at the office, Mr. Tigg asks Jonas why he was trying to escape when he's been made part of the company. Jonas tells Mr. Tigg that he doesn't know for certain that Jonas was actually trying to flee. Mr. Tigg responds that it's the only explanation for why Jonas was dressed to hide his identity and trying to get on a foreign boat in the daytime.

Mr. Tigg tells Jonas that he has information on him, and will use it if he has to. He wants Jonas's help luring in Mr. Pecksniff. Jonas convinces Mr. Tigg to go and see Mr. Pecksniff with him, in spite of Mr. Tigg's initial reluctance. Mr. Tigg hears Jonas asking about the man who delivered the letter, and so he asks Mr. Nadgett who he had given Jonas the letter. Mr. Nadgett replies that it was his lodger, Tom Pinch.

Jonas drinks with Mr. Jobling, and notices a case of lancets. Jonas asks if it's possible to cut a man's throat with them. Mr. Jobling tells him that it depends on where someone cuts, and shows him where the jugular is. Then Mr. Jobling tells Jonas a story about how a doctor killed a man by stabbing him in the heart with one of the instruments, only leaving one drop of blood. Jonas is very interested in the doctor's stories. Mr. Tigg, Jonas, and Bailey start out for Mr. Pecksniff's after dinner.

Chapter 42: Continuation of the Enterprise of Mr. Jonas and His Friend

The party sets out on a hot evening that seems still and heavy before a storm. As they ride in the carriage, they pass many people at way stops and inns securing their loads and waiting for the storm. Jonas watches them as they pass by, and feels they are all watching him, which makes him nervous and edgy. Jonas's erratic and excited mood worries Mr. Tigg. As the storm breaks and the lightning begins flashing, Mr. Tigg thinks he sees Jonas raise up his bottle as though he is going to smash Mr. Tigg in the head with it, but then Jonas seems to be sitting as though he hadn't moved. Mr. Tigg can't figure out if this really happened or if he had a hallucination.

As the storm continues, Mr. Tigg becomes worried about Bailey, who is sitting outside getting soaked in the rain. Jonas says he doesn't want a wet boy in the carriage with them. Feeling increasingly nervous, Mr. Tigg tells Bailey and the driver to take care and not go too fast in the storm. Frightened of Jonas's strange mood, Mr. Tigg silently resolves to let him have his own way until the business is concluded, and then Mr. Tigg will get rid of him.

As it gets closer to dawn, the horses become harder to control in their terror of the storm. They drive the carriage into a ditch. Mr. Tigg and Jonas are flung out of the carriage, and Jonas comes to first. He realizes that Mr. Tigg is lying unconscious near the horses, and as he regains clear thought he tries to bring the panicked horses near enough to stomp on Mr. Tigg's head. He is stopped by the driver, who pulls Mr. Tigg out of the way and helps Jonas cut the horses free. Mr. Tigg wakes up and asks about Bailey. They find him in a field, unconscious and near death. The three men take Bailey and the horses and walk to the nearest village, where the surgeon is promptly called. The doctor looks at Bailey and says he probably won't live, as he has a bad concussion. Mr. Tigg is upset and worried about Bailey, whom he truly cares for.

That night, Mr. Tigg checks his room and locks his door carefully. He dreams about an enemy behind the door, and wakes up to find Jonas standing beside his bed. Jonas claims that he thought the door led to the hallway. Mr. Tigg is afraid Jonas will try to kill him and decides that he will return home alone, no matter what.


Dickens reveals to the reader that whatever Mr. Tigg whispered to Jonas that night, it wasn't Jonas's own secrets, because he only just now begins blackmailing Jonas. It brings up the question of what exactly Mr. Tigg has asked Jonas to do that caused him to feel so trapped and panicked that he would jump on a boat leaving the country. Jonas's shift from afraid and desperate to "self-possessed" also indicates to the reader that something has changed in his plans and intentions. This is further supported by the progression of Jonas's behavior into exulting and wild as the chapter progresses. It seems likely that Jonas has made up his mind to kill Mr. Tigg.

In the carriage, Jonas begins displaying signs of being a little out of control and mentally imbalanced. He becomes more and more unpredictable, and exhibits paranoia at the people watching the carriage go by from the roadside. There is no reason for him to think these people are actually spying on him, but in his heightened mental state it agitates him. His episode is almost manic, from the highs of his mood and his coinciding paranoia.

Mr. Tigg becomes increasingly suspicious and afraid that Jonas intends to kill him, though Jonas doesn't say or do anything outright. After the incident with the horses while Mr. Tigg was unconscious, Mr. Tigg seems to reach a point of certainty about the danger he's in. This is presumably why he insists on the driver staying with them while they walk, though having the driver run ahead would bring help faster. In addition, the story within Mr. Tigg's nightmares seems significant—his first nightmare begins with a dark secret that he feels like he knows, but can't quite remember. This alludes directly to the secret that was brought up but never explained by Mr. Lewsome, the man with the fever.

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