Summary and Analysis Chapters 35-36



After David gets his aunt settled, he has a long discussion with Mr. Dick about her poverty. When Mr. Dick begins to cry, David has to cheer him up. Peggotty and Mr. Dick then leave for the night, and David and his aunt talk about Dora, his new-found love. Miss Trotwood implies that the girl is "light-headed" and "silly"; however, she does not interfere with the relationship. She then expresses her approval of Peggotty (she renames her "Barkis") even though "the . . . ridiculous creature . . . has been begging and praying about handing over some of her money" to Miss Trotwood. Finally David and his aunt retire, but David is too upset to sleep well. He has continuous dreams of poverty the rest of the night.

The next morning, David goes to the law office of Spenlow and Jorkins to "cancel his articles" and recover a portion of his aunt's thousand pounds which had been put up for his tuition. He is refused, however, and is forced to return home empty-handed. As David leaves the law office, he meets Agnes Wickfield, who is on her way to see Miss Trotwood. Agnes has come to London with her father and Uriah Heep, and she tells David that Mr. Heep (and his mother) live with them now and that Uriah has become a full partner in the firm, exerting an overpowering influence on her father.

David and Agnes return to the house and surprise Miss Trotwood. She is very happy to see Agnes and tells them both how she came to lose her fortune: Agnes' father had taken care of her money and all her affairs, but after he teamed up with Uriah Heep, she decided to invest the money herself, "and a very bad market it turned out to be." Agnes tries to help by suggesting that David can find extra work as a secretary to Dr. Strong, without hesitation, David resolves to see Dr. Strong about the position.

In high spirits, David sets out to prove himself worthy of his aunt's faith and Dora's love. He goes to Highgate to see Dr. Strong and succeeds in gaining part-time employment. The arrangement stipulates that David must work every morning and every evening, five days a week for seventy pounds a year, allowing him to pursue his studies for the rest of the day. The primary drawback of this job is the necessity of overcoming the "efforts" of Jack Maldon, who has returned from India and has been "helping" the doctor; for example, he complicated one of the doctor's manuscripts by making numerous mistakes and obscuring it with various sketches.

Impatient to do even more odd jobs, David goes to see Traddles. His purpose is to inquire about earning more money by reporting the debates in Parliament for a newspaper. Even though Traddles tells him about the extreme difficulty of mastering "the mystery of shorthand writing and reading," David decides to start work on it immediately. Next, Mr. Dick's problem is considered. Upset by Miss Trotwood's reverses, Mr. Dick constantly frets about having nothing useful to do. His dilemma prompts Traddles to find him work copying legal documents. The first week's earnings for this work give Mr. Dick such joy and satisfaction that he confides to David that he is sure that he will be able to provide for Miss Trotwood.

Traddles, excited by Mr. Dick's success, nearly forgets about a letter which Mr. Micawber sent to David by him. In the letter which Mr. Micawber has sent, he tells of his intention of moving away to accept another position and he invites his two friends to a small celebration on the eve of the departure. Arriving at the Micawbers, David learns that "the Micawbers are going to Canterbury, where Mr. Micawber is to be the confidential clerk of Uriah Heep!"


In Chapter 35, Dickens reveals to us that Miss Betsey has reservations about David's sweetheart, Dora. She feels that David needs someone to "sustain him and improve him," and she chides him that, when it comes to love, he is "blind, blind, blind." Agnes acts as a captive audience for David's recital of his love for Dora. At the end of the chapter, as David leaves for his rooms, he hears a blind beggar call "Blind! Blind! Blind!" and it reminds him (and us) of what his aunt has said.

David's sudden acceptance of new responsibilities and his extreme determination to prove his worth highlight Chapter 36. His determination to master shorthand so that he can report debates in Parliament is partially boyish enthusiasm (it will take several years of study), the rest resolution "to turn the painful discipline of my younger days to account, by going to work with a resolute and steady heart." Further evidence of David's maturity is evident if he is compared to other characters who, although older than he, do not have such a determined and levelheaded approach.