Martin Chuzzlewit | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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Martin Chuzzlewit | Chapters 7–9 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 7: In Which Mr. Chevy Slyme Asserts the Independence of His Spirit, and the Blue Dragon Loses a Limb

In the beginning of Chapter 7, Martin has gone to work for Mr. Pecksniff in his grammar school. After the Pecksniff family leaves for a trip to London, Mr. Tigg arrives and tells Tom Pinch that he has come to collect a letter containing money that Mr. Pecksniff should have left with Tom for him. Tom Pinch is confused and tells Mr. Tigg that no letter or money was left, and Mr. Tigg tells him that his friend Mr. Slyme is currently detained at the Blue Dragon because he is unable to pay his bill. Tom becomes very flustered and tells Mr. Tigg that he can't give him money because he hasn't been authorized to.

Mark, who works at the Blue Dragon, is standing outside and confirms that Mr. Tigg and Mr. Slyme are there and can't pay their bill. Martin is leery of Mr. Slyme, whom he knows through reputation, and he pulls Tom aside and tells him that he thinks they should try and pay the bill so Mr. Slyme, who is unfortunately a relative of Martin's, will leave. They decide to go down to the Blue Dragon and speak to the landlady.

The landlady is happy to take their word for the bar tab being paid, and just wants to get rid of Mr. Slyme and Mr. Tigg. Mr. Slyme is found slumped over his brandy, drunk and bemoaning his misfortunes. Mr. Tigg pulls Tom Pinch aside and tells him that Tom would think better of him if he had seen him as a soldier in Africa. Then he asks Tom Pinch for three half crowns, and Tom gives him all the money he has, which is only a half sovereign. Mr. Tigg promises to pay him back by Saturday.

Mark then informs Martin and Tom Pinch that he has given his notice to the landlady and is moving to London tomorrow to look for new work that will challenge him more, and then he says goodbye to the men. The landlady is sad to see him go, and in a moment Mark puts his arm around her waist and they confess their feelings for one another. Mark says that he isn't the marrying kind, however, and he has to keep moving. They part as friends, and in the morning everyone arrives to see Mark off.

Chapter 8: Accompanies Mr. Pecksniff and His Charming Daughters to the City of London; and Relates What Fell Out Upon Their Way Thither

Mr. Pecksniff and his daughters get into the coach to London. After some time, Mr. Pecksniff wakes up from a nap to find that two strangers are getting into the coach with them. He responds grumpily to them, and they reply to him and call him by name. In this way he learns that the two strangers are actually his relatives, Mr. Anthony Chuzzlewit and his son, Jonas. They ask Mr. Pecksniff if he is traveling to London, and confirm that they are also on their way to London. Mr. Jonas moves over to talk to Mercy and Charity, who giggle excessively throughout the conversation, and Mr. Jonas appears interested in both of them. They stop to eat and then resume traveling again.

Mr. Pecksniff and Mr. Chuzzlewit sleep fitfully in the carriage, bouncing all over the place, before arriving in London the next morning. The Pecksniffs leave the Chuzzlewits and the carriage and go to their boardinghouse, which is described as a grimy place, and the parlor "communicated to strangers a magnetic and instinctive consciousness of rats and mice."

The landlady, Mrs. Todgers, comes down to welcome them and makes it clear that Mr. Pecksniff has visited the boardinghouse many times in the past. Because it is usually a boardinghouse for gentlemen only, there is some difficulty figuring out what to do with the Miss Pecksniffs. Eventually, Mrs. Todgers decides to put a sofa bed in the room next to hers for the two girls. The girls are clearly miserable in their accommodations, but Mr. Pecksniff is oblivious.

Chapter 9: Town and Todgers's

Chapter 9 opens with a rather negative description of London and of Todgers's neighborhood, which is described as a place where "you groped your way for an hour through lanes and byways, and court-yards, and passages; and you never once emerged upon anything that might be reasonably called a street."

After two days in London, Mrs. Todgers and the Pecksniff girls become close—or at least, Mrs. Todgers has told the girls her entire history by that point. They talk about Mrs. Todgers hoping to become Mrs. Pecksniff, and the girls make fun of Tom Pinch. Mr. Pecksniff arrives at the doorway and startles Mrs. Todgers, and laughingly asks if they are ready to go visit Tom Pinch's sister to deliver the letter. Mrs. Todgers goes with them, and when they arrive they find that Ruth Pinch is actually a very pretty girl and has a good position as a governess in a wealthy family. She is in the middle of teaching when they arrive, and her pupil is a young lady. She receives them very graciously because of her brother's esteem of the Pecksniffs. Mr. Pecksniff attempts to give his card to Ruth Pinch's pupil to give to her parents, but a footman arrives and he gives him the card instead.

When leaving, the Pecksniffs are yelled at to get off the grass, and shown off the property. Mr. Pecksniff is offended at the injustice. Miss Ruth Pinch is yelled at when her pupil reports what happened to her parents. That night, the Pecksniff girls join all of the male lodgers for dinner, and preen under the attention. The men retire after dinner for drinks, and then join the ladies again. Mercy and Charity charm all of the men, who drink to their health. The men get increasingly drunk, and Mr. Pecksniff gives speeches at length. Mr. Pecksniff tells Mrs. Todgers that she reminds him of his wife, and that he has a chronic illness. Mr. Pecksniff drunkenly falls into the fireplace and passes out. The men attempt to carry him to bed, but he keeps getting up and rambling at them. They finally put him in his bedroom, lock the door, and make someone stand guard.

Analysis

Tom and Martin's friendship ("such as it was") is depicted as being somewhat out of balance. Martin clearly likes his new friend, but also is utterly unaware of the fact that his connection with Tom is a condescension. The narrator notes that "neither of them, he was certain (but particularly Tom), would ever have reason to regret the day on which they became acquainted."

Mark is given a detailed introduction and is painted in a charming way, hinting that he will probably be of importance to the story. He also instantly sees through Mr. Tigg and Mr. Slyme. Readers are given a more complete glimpse of Mr. Slyme's nature as he mopes and complains and claims to be wealthy even as someone else has to settle his bar bill for him.

Some of Dickens's opinions about London come through in the opening of Chapter 9. London is described as extremely dirty and gloomy. At one point, the narrator gives the vivid description that "surely London, to judge from that part of it which hemmed Todgers's round and hustled it, and crushed it, and stuck its brick-and-mortar elbows into it, and kept the air from it, and stood perpetually between it and the light, was worthy of Todgers's."

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