Coketown is described as a boring, hard-working, ugly, dirty place, drowning in "fact, fact, fact." Its factory owners and politicians despise its working people, based mostly on statistical analyses of their immorality, drunkenness, and other vices. It's made clear, though, that all these workers really need is to have their imaginations and emotions "brought into healthy existence instead of struggling on in convulsions."
On their way to the circus lodgings, Bounderby and Gradgrind run into Sissy being chased by Bitzer. Sissy tells them that Bitzer has been teasing and bullying her. Bitzer says that she is lying, just like all the other horse-riders. This only confirms Bounderby and Gradgrind's theory that she is a bad influence.
Bitzer is sent home, and Sissy takes Bounderby and Gradgrind to see her father.