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Daniel Deronda

Daniel Deronda

by George Eliot

Daniel Deronda Chapter 42 Summary

  • The chapter begins with a quote that says that if suffering makes you noble, then the Jewish people of the world are aristocrats. That is, they've suffered a whole heck of a lot.
  • We learn that this idea comes from a text that Daniel has been reading a lot lately.
  • Daniel goes back to visit the Cohens. Everyone is super-excited to see him.
  • Mrs. Cohen says that Mordecai's illness is getting worse. Addy disagrees and says that Mordecai has locked himself up because he has a lot of thinking to do.
  • Ezra figures that Mordecai is preoccupied because he's been expecting Daniel.
  • Everyone notices that Mordecai perks up when he sees Daniel.
  • Daniel thinks about how he won't get anywhere until he asks Ezra up front if he lost a sister named Mirah when she was six.
  • Mordecai and Daniel chat privately. Mordecai tells him he wishes that he had come the day before, because the Hand and Banner is going to be crowded tonight – a club called "The Philosophers" is going to meet, so they won't have a lot of time to talk privately.
  • They go to the club. Mordecai introduces Daniel to everyone.
  • We meet a few members of the crew: Miller, who is German; Buchan, who is Scottish; Pash, who is Jewish; Gideon, who is also Jewish; and Croop who "was probably more Celtic than he knew" (42.43).
  • They give Daniel and Mordecai the scoop on things that they have been debating so far.
  • They start talking about the idea of nationality.  Some people think that the concept of nationality is dying out. Daniel argues that nations that have disappeared can come back to life. Mordecai is delighted.
  • Then the group banters about whether it is a good or bad thing for Jewish people to assimilate with other races.
  • Mordecai gets really worked up, and basically says that it is shameful for Jewish people to assimilate and lose their identity.
  • Miller suggests that they have a "Jewish Night" for their debate, meaning that they should argue about the place that Jewish people have in society.
  • Mordecai argues that Jewish people across the world have put up with being treated badly so that they can maintain their faith and identity. Thus, they shouldn't assimilate and be like everyone else – it would defeat the point of all of that suffering.
  • Mordecai goes on: he says that it is key to "revive the organic centre" of Judaism, meaning that Jews across the world should have a national homeland to call their own and to return to. He argues that their race has to be tied to more than just inner faith – their Jewish identity should also be tied to a particular place. This concept of creating a Jewish nation is called Zionism.
  • Some of the men tell Mordecai that this can't happen. Daniel argues that it is possible.
  • Mordecai says that if America could be created as a nation, then it is also possible to create a Jewish nation.
  • He finishes talking. Everyone gets ready to go home except Daniel and Mordecai.

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