Summary and Analysis Book One: Chapter 9



Sissy's education in the Gradgrind home and in M'Choakumchild's school does not progress as rapidly as Mr. Gradgrind would desire. She — reared to wonder, to think, to love, and to believe in Fancy — cannot digest the volumes of Facts and figures given her. She cannot be categorized or catalogued. She cannot learn even the most elementary principles of Practical Economy. Even though Sissy cannot be educated into the ways of the Gradgrinds, she becomes a partial educator of Louisa and young Jane. When she talks with Louisa, she defends her runaway father; in doing so and in repeating some of the stories of the circus, she adds nourishment to the tiny seeds of doubt that have been implanted in Louisa's mind about the training she has received. Daily she inquires of Mr. Gradgrind if a letter for her has arrived. She does not lose hope of hearing from or about her father. Gradually Sissy teaches Louisa the first lesson of compassion and understanding.