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by Charles Dickens
Josiah Bounderby Timeline and Summary
Born into the loving family of the Peglers, who make sure he is educated, apprentice him at a young age, and generally take good care of him. Rises in the business world to become a factory owner, and then a banker. He hires Mrs. Sparsit to be his housekeeper. He pays his mother to stay away and pretend she doesn't know him. Meets and befriends Gradgrind; invents a fake story about a childhood spent in poverty, misery, and abandonment. As the novel opens, Bounderby visits the Gradgrind school. Bounderby and Gradgrind visit Sissy Jupe's father. When they learn that Sissy's father has abandoned her, Bounderby wants to kick her out of the school. At Gradgrind's house, Bounderby kisses Louisa on the cheek. Talking with Mrs. Sparsit about the Gradgrinds, Bounderby lets her figure out that he wants to marry Louisa when she grows up. Bounderby cannot help Stephen get rid of his wife and sends him away angrily. He proposes to and marries Louisa after she is of age; he hires Tom as a bank clerk. A year after marriage, Bounderby meets Harthouse and invites him to be a guest at the house. Bounderby summons Stephen and wants him to rat out the union organizers and the workers who are planning a strike. When Stephen refuses, Bounderby fires him. After the bank is robbed, he launches an investigation and prematurely accuses Stephen and Mrs. Pegler. He goes away on business, and is found in London by Mrs. Sparsit who tells him that Louisa is having an affair with Harthouse. When he comes back to town, he realizes that Louisa just wants a break from the marriage. Bounderby considers the marriage invalidated and starts living again as a single man. Trying again to be useful, Mrs. Sparsit instead uncovers Bounderby's actual mother, Mrs. Pegler, who refutes his stories about his childhood. He goes to see the dying Stephen along with Gradgrind, Louisa, and Tom. Bounderby promotes Bitzer, then dies five years later of a fit in the middle of the street.