Summary and Analysis Book One: Chapter 8



"Never Wonder," the keynote of the Gradgrind educational system, is discussed by Louisa and Tom Gradgrind. Dickens' satire on the educational system is expounded through young Tom's dissatisfaction with his own education and Louisa's desire to do and to learn more. She feels that there is something missing — although she does not know what — or lacking in her life. Tom, calling himself a "donkey," vows to take revenge on his father and the whole educational system. He wishes that he could take gunpowder and blow up the doctrine of Facts. His revenge is that he will enjoy life when he leaves home. He has completed his "cramming'' and will soon enter Bounderby's bank. Tom later reveals the secret of his future enjoyment: he tells his sister that, since Bounderby is so fond of her, she can make his life easier by playing up to Bounderby. As they gaze into the fire and "wonder," they are interrupted and scolded for their wondering by their mother, a pathetic woman who does not understand her logical husband. Her complete character can be summarized in one of her own comments: "I really do wish that I had never had a family, and then you would have known what it was to do without me!"