Hard Times
Hard Times
by Charles Dickens
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Hard Times Book 3, Chapter 6 Summary

The Starlight

  • Sissy and Rachael go for a walk out in the country, as they had agreed. It is a beautiful day, and as they sit down to picnic, Sissy has a little fun following a set of footprints in the grass. Suddenly she freaks out. At the end of the footprints… is a hat with "Stephen Blackpool" written inside.
  • Hidden by the tall grass, right next to the hat, is a huge and deep hole in the ground. Sissy almost falls in, and they realize that Stephen is in the hole.
  • Rachael and Sissy run for help. Sissy finds some workers who tell her this hole is called "Old Hell Shaft."
  • Rachael brings a doctor. Four hours later, the workers rig up a kind of elevator to go down into the hole.
  • Gradgrind, Bounderby, Louisa, and Tom come up from Coketown.
  • Men go down into the hole, and come back.
  • Stephen is still alive, but very injured. He survived by using one hand to drink some water from a puddle near him and eat some food that was in his pocket.
  • He had been hurrying to come back to Coketown to clear his name from bank robbery suspicions when he fell in.
  • Finally, the workers hoist Stephen out of the hole. The doctor can't really do anything for him.
  • Stephen makes a little speech to Rachael, saying that all the workers who are oppressed by their labor have fallen into a kind of metaphorical pit, just like he fell into a real one. He then says that he survived because from the hole he could see a star shining in the night sky. He prayed to the star for peace and understanding between workers and factory owners.
  • Stephen then asks Gradgrind to talk to Tom and get the full story of what happened when Tom and Louisa came to visit his home.
  • Finally, he dies, holding Rachael's hand.

Next Page: Book 3, Chapter 7
Previous Page: Book 3, Chapter 5

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