Hard Times By Charles Dickens Summary and Analysis Book Three: Chapters 4-5

Summary

The titles of these two chapters show the loss and the finding of many things: Bounderby's loss of his "miserable childhood" and the town's finding he has a mother; Louisa's loss of a husband and a belief in Facts and the finding of a loving friend and an understanding of others; and Gradgrind's loss of faith in his system and a finding of love and understanding for his family.

Bounderby does not let his broken marriage interfere with his business; indeed, he pursues the bank robbery with more vigor, offering twenty pounds for Stephen's apprehension. The boldly painted reward poster is read by those who can read and to those who cannot. Each person has his own ideas concerning the innocence or guilt of Stephen. To strengthen his position with the workers, Slackbridge capitalizes upon Stephen's "disgrace."

Bounderby brings Rachael and Tom to Louisa to confirm or to deny Rachael's story of Louisa and Tom's visit to Stephen's home that evening so long ago. Rachael, though she would rather not, believes that Louisa has had something to do with Stephen's being accused of the robbery. Tom is upset when Louisa admits their visit to Stephen's room and her offer of financial aid to Stephen.

When Rachael admits under questioning that she has had a letter from Stephen, who has taken an assumed name in order to obtain a job, Bounderby is positive that Stephen has done this in order to prevent discovery of the robbery. Rachael sends Stephen a letter asking him to return to Coketown to clear his name. When Stephen does not come at the end of the fourth day, Rachael tells Bounderby under what name and in which town Stephen is working. Messengers sent to bring Stephen back cannot find him. As the days pass, the people of the town are divided in their attitudes and beliefs concerning him and the robbery.

"Found," the title of Chapter 5, is symbolic of the events. Days pass; life goes on; Rachael finds a friend, Sissy, who shares her heartbreak and anxiety. Found is Bounderby's mother. The mysterious Mrs. Pegler, taken against her will before Bounderby by Mrs. Sparsit, refutes his story of a miserable childhood after Gradgrind scolds Mrs. Pegler for being an unnatural mother. Cutting a ridiculous figure, the "Bully of Humility" refuses to comment on Mrs. Pegler's story of his secure childhood, of his forsaking her, and of his pensioning her off on thirty pounds a year providing she would stay away from him.

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