A Tale of Two Cities: Novel Summary: Book II Chapter 10-14

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Book II
Chapter 10-14

It is one year later and Charles Darnay has established himself as a higher teacher of the French language. He works hard and prospers from his diligence. One summer day he visits Dr. Manette with the intention of asking for Lucie's hand in marriage. The doctor has become an energetic and productive man and enthusiastically greets his friend. Dr. Manette grows serious when Darnay broaches the subject of marriage but encourages him to continue. Charles assures the doctor that he has no intention of separating him from his daughter and expresses his hope that the marriage would only bind father and daughter closer. The doctor agrees with these sentiments but when Darnay begins to speak of his past, admitting that his family name is not Darnay, the Doctor grows apprehensive and begs him to stop. He asks Charles to reveal his identity only if Lucie agrees to marry him and then not until the morning of the wedding. Darnay readily agrees. That evening Lucie returns to find her father working at his old prison occupation of shoemaking. She is distraught but when she calls to him he walks with her until he falls asleep.

It is 5 o'clock the next morning and Mr. Stryver and Sydney Carton are awake and still drinking following another night of work. Stryver very haughtily announces that he intends to ask for Lucie Manette's hand in marriage even though the pairing will bring him no financial gain. He accuses Carton of being a disagreeable fellow and asserts that he has been embarrassed by his friend's sullen moody behavior during their visits to the Manette's. Stryver goes on to express his belief that Miss Manette will benefit greatly from the marriage and that his proposal will be a piece of good fortune for her. Carton drinks heavily during Stryver's speech and offers no resistance to the proposal though his shrewd caustic responses belie a deeper emotional struggle than his manner suggests. Stryver finishes his speech by recommending that his friend marry a woman with money so as to provide for his otherwise dismal future.

Mr. Stryver has no doubt that his proposal to Lucie will be successful. He resolves to ask for her hand immediately in order that they may begin preparations for the wedding. On his way to the Manette's he stops at Tellson's to share the good news with Mr. Lorry. The banker receives the news coldly and, much to Mr. Stryver's dismay offers no encouragement. In fact, his first response is "Oh dear me!" Although Mr. Lorry agrees with Mr. Stryver's various claims to worthiness he persists in withholding his approval. In his arrogance, Stryver is unable to discern any logical reason why Lucie would refuse to marry him. He asks Mr. Lorry if he thinks that Miss Manette is a fool. Mr. Lorry bristles at the implied offense to Miss Manette and suggests that in order to avoid painful, embarrassing situations for Doctor and Miss Manette; he should go to Soho that evening instead of Mr. Stryver to confer with the Doctor on the matter. He promises to bring an answer to Mr. Stryver immediately after his interview. Though Stryver can see no reason for the intermediary he accepts Mr. Lorry's offer. After Mr. Stryver leaves Tellson's, however, he considers the situation and realizes that Mr. Lorry would not express doubts if he did not believe them to be true. By the time the banker calls at his apartment to tell him the suit would not prosper, Mr. Stryver has already reconfigured the situation in his mind so that it is Miss Manette who has tried to seduce him in order to better herself and failed in the attempt. He even asserts that he might not have proposed in the first place. Mr. Lorry is dumbfounded and finds himself bustled out before he can formulate a response.

It was true that Sydney Carton was always moody and morose when at the Manette's. Yet, many nights he would walk in their neighborhood for hours until the sun rose. Soon after Mr. Stryver tells him that he has reconsidered asking for Lucie's hand, Sydney Carton is seized by a sudden impulse and goes to the Manette house where he finds Lucie alone at her work. In very sorrowful terms he expresses to her his belief that his life will only get progressively worse and that if for a moment he could have believed that she loved him he would have known that he would only bring her misery. She implores him to believe that he can prosper and be happy and asks if without her love there is no other way that she can make him happy. He asserts that he is beyond redemption but that she has stirred something in him that he thought long since dead. Again, she asks if she can do anything for him and Carton answers that he would like her to remember that on this occasion he opened himself to her and that there was enough left of him that was worthy of pity. She sorrowfully agrees to keep his trust and he humbly thanks her. On his way out he tells her that he will never speak of their conversation again and will deny that it ever occurred should she broach the subject. She weeps at his display of emotion and he reminds her that in a couple of hours he will be so besotted as to not be worthy of such affection. Carton tells her that in the near future, when the ties of marriage and motherhood have enclosed her, to remember there is one such as himself who would give his life for her happiness. He departs.

Jerry Cruncher and his son are in their regular spot outside of Tellson's watching the constant flow of traffic moving up and down Fleet Street. They see a funeral procession approaching and Jerry notices that the crowd is jeering and calling out that the man to be buried was a spy and that his body should be tumbled out of the casket. Jerry learns that the man's name was Roger Cly and that he was an Old Bailey informant. The crowd resolves to pull the body from the coach but someone in the crowd suggest instead accompanying the coach to its graveyard destination and the mob readily agrees. Jerry Cruncher slips into the crowd and accompanies them to the burial ground. After the casket is buried the mob goes on to dissolve into random acts of vandalism and drunkenness. Jerry Cruncher calmly smokes a pipe and makes a close survey of the low gates in the graveyard where the casket has been interred. That evening, amidst continuous appeals to his wife not to pray, he announces that he will be out on one of his nocturnal fishing trips that night. When his son asks about the rust on his hands and wonders aloud whether his father will return with any fish, his father sharply silences him. At one o'clock in the morning Jerry fetches some heavy tools from a locked cabinet and, believing the rest of the family to be asleep, exits the house. Young Jerry follows him and observes that two other men join his father before they reach a graveyard. Jerry the younger is horrified to observe that his father and his friends begin unearthing a fresh grave and though he initially flees in terror he returns to watch. Once the casket is unearthed, however, he flees home and falls into a troubled sleep. The next morning he knows that something must have gone wrong with the operation because his father is very upset and accuses his wife of praying against him. On the way to Tellson's young Jerry asks his father the meaning of the profession "Resurrection Man" and when his father haltingly tells him that it is a person who provides cadavers to doctors young Jerry announces that he would like to grow up to be a resurrection man. Jerry is noticeably proud of his son.

Analysis of Chapters 10-14
This section serves to broaden the reader's understanding of several of the key characters and their relationships toward one another. Of Lucie's three potential suitors only Carton speaks directly to Lucie. Darnay takes the admirable course by consulting with the doctor beforehand and as this is the proper method, and the affection between him and Miss Manette is apparent, it is assumed that his suit will prosper. Mr. Stryver's proposal, on the other hand, is presumed to fail by everyone who knows of it except Stryver himself. That his pride can admit no other explanation save Lucie's own ignorance and stupidity underscores his egotistic sensibility. Two events occur which create suspense and foreshadow things to come. First, Doctor Manette is apprehensive about Darnay's past and his insistence on postponing the truth coupled with his temporary relapse leads the reader to draw a connection between the Evr�monde's and the doctor's imprisonment. Second, Sydney Carton's emotional episode with Lucie Manette reveals him to be a man of much greater sensibility and feeling than previously depicted. His avowal to give his life for her happiness introduces a defining aspect of his character and one that will figure prominently later in both their lives. The episode with Jerry Cruncher and his son reveals the reason behind Jerry Cruncher's muddy boots and rusty hands. Though his nocturnal occupation provides extra income it is apparent that he feels some doubt regarding its morality. He not only castigates his wife for praying but he is happy to learn that his son does not condemn the practice.

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