Literature Study GuidesTom JonesBook 8 Chapters 6 10 Summary

Tom Jones | Study Guide

Henry Fielding

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Tom Jones | Book 8, Chapters 6–10 : Containing about Two Days. | Summary

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Summary

Book 8, Chapter 6

Since the surgeon has abandoned him and he needs his wound dressed, Benjamin, who is also a surgeon, changes his bandages. After he finishes Benjamin tells Tom his name is Partridge. He assures Jones that, despite what he may have heard, he is not Tom's father. He also says he has suffered much on Tom's account and asks a favor in return, which is that he be allowed to accompany Tom as he heads off to war. Tom agrees.

Book 8, Chapter 7

Mr. Partridge believes Tom Jones is Mr. Allworthy's true son and, therefore, he cannot believe he turned him out. He has heard Jones has a wild character, so he thinks it likely he has merely run away from his father. He means to persuade Jones to abandon the idea of catching up with the regiment. Partridge imagines Mr. Allworthy will be grateful to him for returning Tom to the family. Mr. Allworthy will then forget his former anger toward Partridge and reward him so he can return home. The next day Jones and Partridge set off together, with Partridge carrying his companion's knapsack.

Book 8, Chapter 8

The traveling companions arrive in Gloucester at the Bell Inn. Since Jones has the look of a gentleman the landlady, Mrs. Whitefield, invites him to dinner with her and some other guests, including Mr. Dowling, the lawyer who brought the news of Bridget's death to Mr. Allworthy through Blifil. After Tom leaves the table a "pettyfogger" (shady lawyer) tells the landlady a number of bad stories about Tom. As a result she is so rude he decides not to spend the night under her roof.

Book 8, Chapter 9

The companions find themselves on the road at night, not sure of where they are going. Tom muses that his lady love might, at this instant, be looking at the very same moon. When Tom asks Partridge if he was ever in love he responds that he has tasted "all the tenderness, and sublimities, and bitterness of the passion." The conversation turns back to the journey, with Partridge recommending they return to Gloucester but Tom is determined to join the regiment.

Book 8, Chapter 10

The companions arrive at the bottom of a steep hill. Suddenly Partridge sees light in the window of a cottage, and a servant lets them in to briefly warm themselves at the fire. She says the master is a recluse who shuns company. They suddenly hear shouting and commotion, and Jones rushes out and saves the old man from his attackers. The man thanks him and agrees to tell Tom the story of how he came to cut himself off from society.

Analysis

Tom is abandoned by the surgeon and later treated rudely by Mrs. Whitefield, all because of the half-truths spoken against him. The surgeon thinks he won't pay, and the landlady believes he is a disreputable character upon hearing the report of the pettyfogger. The story of Tom Jones is known outside of the parish where he grew up, and Partridge for one has heard about him, hearing he is a wild fellow. Tom Jones's bad reputation says more about people's tendency to gossip and think the worst of their fellow human beings than it does about Tom's actual character. It also illustrates how, when a man is down, bystanders often can't resist taking some jabs at him.

Mr. Partridge has been unjustly treated, but now he gloms onto Tom as his ticket back to a decent life in his home parish after Mr. Allworthy forgives him and perhaps restores his annuity so that he can start over. Partridge's behavior is somewhat plausible given his character, but it also is a plot device to provide Tom with a traveling companion. Partridge attaches himself to Tom on the pretense that Tom owes him a debt since he was the cause of his ruin, but he himself is the cause of many of Tom's trials and tribulations on the road. This part of the novel, the middle section in which Tom wanders the world, takes a page from the picaresque tradition of which Don Quixote is a primary example.

When Jones and Partridge leave Gloucester and travel by night in Book 8, Chapter 9 they come across the home of the famous cynic of the novel, The Man of the Hill. His entry into the story is appropriate, right after the novelist has shown the base actions of several characters in their treatment of the hero of the story. When they ask for shelter the servant gives it reluctantly, not wanting to anger her master, who hates people. But the Man is fortunate Tom crossed his path since he saves him from bandits, and the price Tom asks in payment is to learn his story. Tom is on a journey of discovery, and it is necessary for him to look the worst of human nature directly in the eye. So far he has lived as an innocent, but he must experience the depths to which people can sink to test whether his goodness will hold. The Man of the Hill begins his initiation.

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