Summary and Analysis
Mr. Pickwick makes arrangements to move out of Mrs. Bardell's house and into a hotel. He sends Sam Weller to pay the rent, give a month's notice, and see about having his possessions moved. Sam is also supposed to find out what is taking place with regard to the lawsuit. Sam's arrival throws Mrs. Bardell and two visiting neighbors into a flurry, but his apparent sympathy invites them to discuss the suit. Sam learns that Mrs. Bardell intends to take Mr. Pickwick to court, and that Dodson and Fogg have a good chance of winning, since they took the case on speculation. Sam reports this to Mr. Pickwick, who is making preparations for his Christmas visit to Dingley Dell.
Sam takes two days' leave from Mr. Pickwick to visit his father at Dorking. He finds his stepmother sitting with a seedy, gluttonous evangelist, neither of whom is very pleased to see him. The Reverend Stiggins and Susan Weller are self-righteously united against Sam's father, Tony. It is obvious that Stiggins takes advantage of the Wellers. Mr. Weller arrives and greets Sam warmly, and the two of them discuss Stiggins' hypocrisy. Before he leaves the next day, Sam tells his father that he would get rid of Stiggins, to which Tony replies that it is one of the burdens of marriage.
Sam Weller is the principal character in these two chapters, but he is present mainly as an observer. In the first, he learns of Mr. Pickwick's legal situation from Mrs. Bardell and her two neighbors, Mrs. Cluppins and Mrs. Sanders. In the second, Sam learns the marital situation of his father at firsthand. The point of these chapters is that both Mr. Pickwick and Mr. Weller are victims of self-deceiving widows, to which the contiguity of these chapters calls attention. Mrs. Bardell tries to make out that her case against Mr. Pickwick is a matter of sentiment, whereas it is really a matter of greed and obtaining revenge. And Mrs. Weller tries to make out that she dislikes her husband on religious principles, but it is actually because she is infatuated with the repulsive Stiggins.
Food and drink play an interesting part here. Sam arrives at Mrs. Bardell's and at Susan Weller's just as food is being prepared by the two widows. At Mrs. Bardell's, Mrs. Cluppins is anxious that Sam leave without eating, while at the Wellers', the Reverend Stiggins openly resents Sam's intrusion at teatime. It is this atmosphere of petty piggishness that is most telling about the widows' friends. Another suggestive detail is that each of these companions has a hypocritical attitude toward liquor, outwardly disdaining it and inwardly relishing it.
Although one could assume from the day-to-day events that this section takes place in September (the adventure at Ipswich takes just a few days and begins early in September), we are informed that the Pickwickians are preparing to go to Wardle's for Christmas. This leads us into the next episode, but like the other time lapses it gives us a feeling of time's swiftness. The feeling is entirely appropriate to a novel in which good companions and spirited adventures predominate.