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Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist

by Charles Dickens

Oliver Twist Chapter 21 Summary

"The Expedition"

  • It’s rainy at 5am when Sikes and Oliver set out, and the "kennels" are overflowing (21.1). (FYI, kennels were open gutters/sewers that ran through the streets. So it was pretty gross when they overflowed.)
  • London is just starting to wake up now, and farmers are coming in with their vegetables and things, and laborers are going to work.
  • As they approach the main part of the city, everything is bustling.
  • They cut across Smithfield (which, if you’ll recall from Chapter Sixteen, is the livestock market and slaughterhouse), and it’s market day, so Smithfield is particularly gross – it’s full of farm animals, blood, filth, and general nastiness. And it’s really, really noisy, as you can imagine.
  • They pass west across the city towards Hyde Park (it’s really far, even if you don’t have legs as short as Oliver’s.) and finally hitch a ride on the back of somebody’s cart. They continue west-southwest through London and pass outside of the city on the cart, and then hop off at a pub near a crossroads.
  • They keep on walking, with only the occasional break for beer.
  • Finally they take a dinner break, and stay long enough that Oliver falls asleep at the table.
  • He’s woken up by a shove from Sikes, because they’re going to catch a ride for the next leg of their trip from a guy with a horse and cart who’s going their direction.
  • It’s seven o’clock, and already cold and dark when they’re in the cart.
  • They finally arrive at a dilapidated old house outside the small town of Shepperton, and they go in.

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