The Pickwick Papers | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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The Pickwick Papers | Chapter 51 | Summary

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Summary

Mr. Pickwick, Sam, Sawyer, and Ben Allen stop at an inn on a cold, wet night. There they find Mr. Pott, the newspaper editor from Eatanswill. Mrs. Pott has left him because of his ongoing obsession with politics. Pott is darkly amused to hear that Mr. Winkle is now married. The editor of the opposing Eatanswill paper, Mr. Slurk, also arrives at the inn and ends up in a fight with Pott. Sam breaks up the fight and the two editors are forced to express their hatred in print while the Pickwick group takes the road toward London.

Analysis

Always ready to take on ridiculousness and hypocrisy, Dickens tackles newspaper editors in this chapter. He revives the Buff versus Blue lunacy from many chapters ago and demonstrates Pott's cluelessness about anything other than politics when he explains how his critic "crammed" Chinese metaphysics by reading an encyclopedia. The word crammed is interesting, since it brings to mind an unprepared student trying to get ready for a test.

As a journalist who was just starting to become known for his fiction, Dickens had experience with newspaper editors, and he was probably quite amused by envisioning them in a fistfight. Pott and Slurk are more effective at attacking each other with words than with fists. As the reader imagines the two of them reading each other's papers and snorting in derision, it is easy to see how, to the average person, journalists appear to be another member of the group—along with lawyers and politicians—who talk but never resolve anything.

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