The Pickwick Papers | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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The Pickwick Papers | Chapter 37 | Summary

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Summary

John Smauker, the dignified servant to the Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Bantam, invites Sam to attend a servants' party. He sees this as a great honor and cautions Sam not to expect to be treated as an equal by some of the lofty servants who will attend. Although Sam is unimpressed by the company, he is a great success and enjoys himself thoroughly.

The next morning, Mr. Pickwick tells Sam what happened with Mr. Winkle, who has now disappeared. Pickwick sends Sam to find Mr. Winkle, telling Sam he can knock Mr. Winkle down and bring him back unconscious if necessary, a suggestion which delights Sam.

Analysis

Servants were members of the lower class, but the servants attending this party seem to have absorbed some of their employers' lofty manners. The servants see themselves as quite superior to other people; they are dismissive of the greengrocer who is their host. They have their own snobberies and standards they hold themselves to, but Sam, being Sam, treats everyone equally.

These servants seem to be very concerned about their lower-class status. One of them claims that he only became a servant because women find it hard to resist a man in a uniform. In contrast, Sam seems perfectly satisfied with his state. He would never claim to be Mr. Pickwick's equal, but he also does not seem embarrassed by his position. He greatly enjoys deflating the pompous attitudes of his fellow servants, but he does it in such a way that the servants cannot entirely tell if he is joking or serious.

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