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by Charles Dickens
David Copperfield Chapter 48 Summary
Domestic David is working hard at a book. He doesn't plan to make many references to his fictional works; they speak for themselves. David has been married for about a year and a half (which would make him about twenty-two and half now), and they have given up their housekeeping lessons. Instead, they have an extremely awful page. David is worried that they'll never get rid of the boy. Fortunately, he gives them a way out: the boy steals Dora's watch and pawns it. The page keeps confessing, bit by bit, all of the things he has stolen. David feels completely embarrassed by what a victim he has become: he really can't keep order in his own house. Meanwhile, Dora goes to visit the boy in prison. But she's so freaked out by being in jail that she faints. David uses this as an opportunity to note that their poor household management has gotten so out of hand that it's now messing up other people. Dora scolds David for being cross. David tells her to put Jip down. He tells Dora sternly that they are wasting money by not being careful, and they're also spoiling all of their servants by giving them opportunities to turn bad. Dora thinks David is accusing her of stealing gold watches. David didn't mean this at all, but Dora sobs that David is comparing her to the thieving page boy. David asks Dora to be reasonable. But she can't: she wonders why David didn't send her to India (where Miss Mills went) instead of marrying her. David thinks the only thing there is left to do is to educate Dora's mind. So, when Dora is being childish, David turns serious. He tries to read Shakespeare to her, which makes her tired. Whenever Traddles comes by the house, David starts instructing him in practical wisdom in the hopes that it will trickle down to Dora by proxy – which it doesn't. Eventually, after several months, David notices that he's having no effect. It looks like Dora's mind is set. David decides that he's going to be satisfied with her from now on out, and he buys her some presents. Dora is very pleased with the gifts. David apologizes that they haven't been good company lately. Dora knows that David has been trying to make her wise. She tells David it's no use – she's his child-wife. Sometimes she thinks it would have been better if — But Dora doesn't finish her sentence and won't explain. David tells Dora that he loves her as she is, and won't try to change her anymore. Dora is delighted and kisses David. This was David's last effort to try and change Dora. David feels a general unhappiness, which he can't pinpoint: he loves Dora, but something is missing. What David wants is a real life partner – something that he knows he could have had. David knows that Dora is truly proud and fond of him. But he also knows that, if his heart had been careful when he first met Dora, he would never have fallen for her. David is all too aware that he and Dora have wildly different minds and goals. Eventually, David comes to terms with the fact that he has to adapt himself to Dora, to make her life as good as he can. But he notices that Dora seems weaker in that second year of marriage than she was in the first. She becomes pregnant, but the baby does not live. After the pregnancy, Dora can't walk or run. Dora tells Miss Betsey that she wants to make Jip race: he is getting slow and lazy. Miss Betsey breaks the news to Dora that Jip is growing old. Dora starts to worry over Jip; even worse, she grows afraid of the future. She grows happy and cheerful again, but she still can't walk or run. David carries her downstairs in the morning and upstairs at night. Miss Betsey nurses Dora. Mr. Dick carries the candles up and down the stairs after her. But David starts to feel a kind of dread at how light Dora is getting in his arms.
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