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by Charles Dickens
Tom Gradgrind Timeline and Summary
As a young boy, Tom is drilled to have no imagination, to repress all his creativity, and to learn only facts. When Sleary's circus comes to town, his sister Louisa gets him to sneak off to peep at it. A few years later, Tom becomes a clerk at Bounderby's bank. He guilts Louisa into marrying Bounderby, telling her that this way they can be together, and that she needs to help him be better treated by Bounderby. Tom is a lazy, bad clerk. He is also a gambler who runs up debts. First, he asks Louisa to cover them – selling her jewelry in the process. After her money runs out, he starts to steal from the bank. After Stephen is fired from his job, Tom and Louisa visit him and Rachael. Tom tells Stephen that if Stephen spends a few nights hanging around the bank, then Tom might have a job for him. Having set Stephen up like this, Tom completes his robbery. When Bounderby starts to investigate, Tom never leaves his side – most likely so he can know exactly what Bounderby is discovering. After Stephen is found alive, Tom realizes that Stephen will reveal the setup and leaves town. With Sissy's help, he hides in Sleary's circus as a clown. Tom's father, sister, and Sissy come to get him on board a ship sailing abroad to escape. He is captured by Bitzer, but Sleary's people pull an awesome heist to free him and send him off. After many years abroad, he finally realizes the error of his ways, writes a really sad apologetic letter to his sister, and starts to come back to visit her. He dies on the way back to Coketown.