The Pickwick Papers | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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The Pickwick Papers | Chapter 16 | Summary

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Summary

Mr. Pickwick and Sam arrive at the Angel, an inn in Bury St. Edmunds, where Sam encounters Job Trotter. Job is Mr. Jingle's servant and he tells Sam that Mr. Jingle plans to elope with a rich heiress who is still at boarding school. Job claims to be horrified at his master's plan, and he agrees to help Mr. Pickwick and Sam stop the elopement. Job says that the only way to stop it is for Mr. Pickwick to wait in the boarding school's garden at night and prevent their escape. Mr. Pickwick is uneasy, but Job assures him there is no other option. Sam helps Mr. Pickwick climb over the wall late at night, and Mr. Pickwick waits for the elopement. It never happens, and he is caught by the residents of the boarding school. The entire thing was a scheme to embarrass Mr. Pickwick: Job lied about the elopement.

The boarding school teachers believe Pickwick is either a criminal or a madman, but he convinces them to send for Sam. Sam arrives, bringing with him Mr. Wardle and Mr. Trundle, who is now engaged to Mr. Wardle's daughter Bella. They convince the boarding school teachers not to press charges against Mr. Pickwick.

Analysis

Dickens's fun with names pops up again with the name of Mr. Jingle's servant and accomplice, Job Trotter. In addition to the obvious work-related interpretation of his first name, it also calls to mind the Book of Job in the Bible. The Biblical Job was a good man who was tested by God and suffered greatly. Job pretends to be suffering because of Mr. Jingle's dishonesty, though he is no more honest and truthful than his master. His surname, Trotter, suggests movement and activity, and Job is certainly very active on Mr. Jingle's behalf.

Mr. Pickwick's disingenuous nature gets him into trouble here, although it is surprising that Sam also falls victim to Job's pretense. Sam often seems more like Mr. Pickwick's caretaker than his servant. In fact, the boarding school students suggest that Pickwick is mad and Sam is his attendant—sometimes it must feel that way to Sam, as well.

Mr. Wardle's reappearance happens just at the right time. He is worldly wise and pragmatic in all the ways Pickwick is not, and he is of a higher social status than Sam. Sam, Wardle, and Wardle's soon-to-be son-in-law are able to get Mr. Pickwick out of another difficult situation.

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