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Little Dorrit

Little Dorrit

by Charles Dickens

Little Dorrit Book 1, Chapter 34 Summary

A Shoal of Barnacles

  • Finally Pet and Gowan's wedding day is here.
  • Mrs. Gowan has done her best to get as many of the fancy members of the Barnacle family to come as possible, in order to play into the whole charade that Gowan is somehow marrying down and that Mrs. Gowan wants to class up the joint.
  • Arthur decides to go, thinking this is what Pet would want.
  • Doyce doesn't want to go because he's worried he and the Barnacles will come to blows.
  • Arthur and Gowan chat. Gowan is bitter that his rich and powerful relatives haven't set him up in any way. This is sort of offensive to Arthur, who says that working for a living is not such a bad thing. Gowan does more of his all-things-are-worthless shtick.
  • Arthur is very worried about what the marriage will be like if Gowan is already this jaded before it even happens.
  • The ceremony goes off OK.
  • The guest list is full of high-ranking members of the Circumlocution Office, along with some low-level ones.
  • The narrator introduces them one by one, with vicious and hilarious bits of satire about the slow, useless, careless, and generally apathetic way government runs.
  • Gowan makes a little speech about how they're going to be very poor. He asks everyone to commission a painting.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Meagles cry and hug Pet, and the married couple is off to honeymoon in Italy.
  • A totally miserable Mr. Meagles is slightly cheered up by the thought that so many highly connected, aristocratic people came to the wedding.

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