Summary and Analysis
When Gradgrind realizes that his son is a thief, he retires to his room for twenty-four hours, not coming out even to eat or drink. Upon deciding to help his son, he learns from Sissy that she has sent him to Sleary's circus for refuge. The three journey separately to the circus — Gradgrind alone and Sissy and Louisa together. There they find Tom masquerading as a black-lace comic. The ensuing conversation between Gradgrind and Sleary indicates that Gradgrind's system of education, shaped by the economic conditions of the time, has been destroyed. From Sleary they learn what has happened to the circus people and with him they plan Tom's escape. Tom is surly with his father and Louisa, heaping coals on the fire of Gradgrind's grief by referring to Facts — statistics which show that a certain percentage of people employed in positions of trust are dishonest. Gradgrind plans to send Tom to Liverpool and then abroad; however, Bitzer suddenly appears and interferes.