Summary and Analysis
Book 2: Chapter 8
As the Marquis travels from Paris to the Evrémonde country estate, he rides through a landscape of sparse and withered crops. When his carriage stops in a village near his home, the Marquis questions a road-mender who claims he saw a man riding under the carriage, but the man is no longer there. Having alerted the village official, Gabelle, to be on the lookout for the mystery man, the Marquis drives on. Before he can reach his estate, however, a grief-stricken woman stops him at the graveyard and begs him for a marker for the grave of her dead husband. Ignoring her pleas, the Marquis continues on to his chateau. When he arrives, he asks if "Monsieur Charles"has arrived from England yet.
The bleak setting through which the Marquis rides testifies that the irresponsible habits of the ruling class starve the land as much as they starve the common people. Reminiscent of the spilled wine smearing the faces and hands of the people of Saint Antoine, the setting sun bathes the Marquis in a crimson light, symbolically covering him in blood. Whether the blood represents that of the dying peasants, the child he just killed, or his own bloody death is uncertain. What is certain is that, like many other members of his class, the Marquis concerns himself only with his own well-being and can't be bothered with the fate of the people who rely upon him for their lives. He is very interested, for example, in the whereabouts of the man the road-mender spotted beneath his carriage but is indifferent to the plight of the widow at the graveyard.
fagged up a steep hill toiled up the hill slowly and strenuously.
the heavy drag a brake used to slow the carriage down as it descended the hill.
a forest for the chase the wood where hunting took place.
the chain of the shoe a chain beneath the carriage, attached to the brake.
flambeau a torch.