Friday, January 06, 2006

Book the Second - Chap. 19-24

Fires and storms. Discussion points follow.
See Discussion #4 for updates.

Discussion Points/Questions

Chapter Nineteen

Open for discussion.

I think that Lorry's suggestion to destroy the shoemaker's bench is very neat if considered in relation to the spiritual life and how one distances himself from habits and circumstances of sin. Think of the Act of Contrition in which we promise to "avoid the near occasions of sin."

Chapter Twenty

More painting of Sydney Carton's character...

Chapter Twenty-One

1) Notably, this is the first chapter in which the action is shifted between locations. Throughout the rest of the book, chapters have remained reserved to a place. What may Dickens signify by this nuance? All the threads are beginning to be tied together.

2) Feel free to comment on Dickens vivid descriptions of the heated battle at the Bastille. Were they effective? I think so.

3) Explain Defarge's actions inside of 105 North Tower. He was looking for something. Maybe found something, in the chimney?

Chapter Twenty-Two

1) This chapter hardly forwards the plot of the novel, but does wonders for Dickens' thematic develop. Comment upon the character named "The Vengeance," the murder of Foulon, and the following passage:
Fathers and mothers who had had their full in the worst of the day, played gently with their meagre children; and lovers, with such a world around them and before them, loved and hoped.
Man's depravity and fickleness. The relationship of a son-in-law with Foulon is somewhat mentionable...

Chapter Twenty-Three

Open for discussion. No comments.

Chapter Twenty-Four

* NOTE: The setting of this part of the novel is announced as three years later. That would make the year approximately 1793. This year is significant. Anyone know why? Death of Marie Antoinette, and the beginning of the "reign of terror," a period of rampant execution and bloodlust.

1) The title of the chapter is "Drawn to the Loadstone Rock." The obscure reference is from the Arabian Nights. The story about a sailor inexplicably drawn to doom brings two things to mind - duty, and a vague notion of "fate."

Note that everyone is driven by some sense of duty: Lorry to Telsons; Darnay to his mother's death-wish and the innocents of France; Lucie to Dr. Manette; Dr. Manette to Lucie; Carton to Lucie; Miss Pross to Lucie; Mr. Cruncher to Lorry; et cetera. Reminded that the novel is about alienation, love, and redemption, comment about the forces drawing all of these people together. The will of God, and the idea that losing life we gain it; living for others is living for Christ, and life in Christ is true life.

Comment also upon the "coincidence" of Darnay's being in Telson's at the time of the discussion of the letter to the Marquis. Again, the will of God.

General note

Although many Dickens scholars would cringe to hear it (but I think Chesterton might agree with me), I feel that this novel contains many themes that are not only uniquely Christian, but leaning towards a Catholic understanding.

I recommend reflecting heavily upon what has been read so far before starting into Book Three, and moving on especially mindful of the religious undertones and overtones of the work.



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