The Pickwick Papers | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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The Pickwick Papers | Chapter 56 | Summary

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Summary

Sam and his father visit Mr. Pickwick. They ask him to handle Mr. Weller's money for him. Mr. Pickwick agrees, then changes the subject to a topic that is important to him: Sam's relationship with Mary. Pickwick is determined to help Sam get married. Sam refuses, because he will not leave Mr. Pickwick to fend for himself. He tells Pickwick that he has told Mary his intentions, and she has declared that she is willing to wait to marry until he is ready. As they argue, a gentleman is shown in to visit Mrs. Winkle. It is Mr. Winkle, senior, who has decided to see who his son married. He is pleased with Arabella and forgives his son for eloping, making Pickwick's happiness complete.

Analysis

For once Mr. Pickwick figures something out on his own: he is able to recognize the romance between Sam and Mary. When Mr. Weller visits, Pickwick makes a great effort to convince him that Sam should get married. The two of them have finally settled the question, only to have Sam refuse.

Sam's refusal is beautiful, almost poetic, and unlike his usual joking manner of speech. Dickens notes his voice is low and husky. He insists that he cannot get married because Mr. Pickwick needs him, and he concludes by saying:

vages or no vages, notice or no notice, board or not board, lodgin' or no lodgin', Sam Veller, as you took from the old inn in the Borough, sticks by you, come what may, and let ev'rythin' and ev'rybody do their wery fiercest, nothin' shall ever perwent it!

This is, in effect, a declaration of love. It is very like Ruth's declaration to her mother-in-law Naomi in the Bible:

And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

At the end of the book, Mr. Pickwick, the "angel in tights and gaiters," has found his own form of true love: friendship and companionship with Sam Weller.

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