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A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities


by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities Volume I, Chapter Five – The Wine-Shop Summary

  • Flash back to Paris: in front of a wine-shop, a great big ol’ barrel of wine has fallen and broken open.
  • It’s like the entire street won the lottery.
  • Everyone dives into the road, heedless of the dirt or of traffic.
  • They soak up wine with buckets and glasses and their hands and their shirts.
  • Everything quickly becomes bright red.
  • Foreshadowing, anyone? Well, yes. Yes, it is. As our narrator intones, this red will all too soon be replaced by the red of blood flowing in the streets.
  • In Saint Antoine, the district where the store is, everyone’s hands will soon become stained with blood, too.
  • How’s that for a nifty prediction?
  • Once the wine is all sopped up, however, the absolute poverty of the place is recognizable again.
  • People are hungry; shops are barely open; children are thin and undernourished.
  • The owner of the wine-shop, surveying the street, shrugs his shoulders.
  • After all, he didn’t spill the wine. It’s the merchant who’ll have to bear the loss of the casket.
  • Our narrator takes a second to look closely at Defarge.
  • Since he does, we will, too. Defarge is a bull-necked, barrel-chested sort of guy. He’s not exactly the type you’d like to meet in a dark alley.
  • Come to think of it, he’s not the sort of guy that you’d want to oppose at all.
  • Defarge walks into his store, where his wife sits knitting.
  • She’s strong and as steadfast as he seems to be. She sure doesn’t stop knitting, for one thing.
  • She coughs and rolls her eyes.
  • Defarge seems to know what she means. Apparently they have a secret language worked out.
  • He turns and looks at the old man and young woman who have seated themselves in the corner.
  • Any guesses as to who they are?
  • Defarge pretends not to notice them.
  • He starts up a conversation with other customers. Strangely enough, all of their names seem to be Jacques.
  • Either everyone’s mothers got together and decided to make the city identical, or something fishy is going on...
  • After some conversation with the Jacqueses, Defarge tells them that the room they all wanted to see is out back.
  • The three men all troop out to the back of the shop.
  • Turning to the old man (Mr. Lorry, in case you missed it), Defarge offers to lead them up to the doctor’s room.
  • On the way, Mr. Lorry asks if the doctor has been much changed.
  • Defarge answers in one word, "Changed!"
  • Apparently he’s not really a man of words. He does hit the walls pretty expressively, though.
  • Mr. Lorry seems to get his meaning. He gets more and more worried as they ascend the staircase in the back of the shop.
  • They go up flights and flights of stairs. It’s dark and dingy and rather awful.
  • Mr. Lorry asks why Defarge has to keep the doctor under lock and key. It seems rather cruel after his imprisonment.
  • Defarge explains that the doctor has become so accustomed to the sound of a key turning in a lock that he can no longer exist without knowing that he’s under lock and key.
  • Convinced that the doctor might harm himself if he’s not kept guarded, Defarge has locked him into his room.
  • As they reach the top of the stairs, they run into Jacques one, two, and three.
  • Apparently the "room" that they were planning to see was also the doctor’s room.
  • Defarge pushes them out of the way as Lucie looks on, astounded.
  • When they enter the room, Mr. Lorry turns to Lucie, his eyes wet.
  • After all, he reminds her, it’s only business.
  • Lucie, scared to meet the man inside, hesitates at the doorframe.
  • Mr. Lorry sees her fear and helps her through the door.
  • In the darkness that blankets the room, they can just barely see the figure of a man: he’s sitting at a very low bench, making shoes.

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