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A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities


Summary

A Tale of Two Cities Book the Second: The Golden Thread
Volume II, Chapter One – Five Years Later Summary Page 1

  • First things first: it’s 1780.
  • That’s five years after the first section (as you might be able to tell from the name of the volume, "Five Years Later"). We just thought we should point it out.
  • Tellson’s Bank is ugly, old, small, dirty, and in all other ways not a nice place to be.
  • The funny thing is that it’s also the most respected bank in England.
  • In fact, all of its partners revel in the fact that it’s small, ugly, old, and dirty. They’re small, ugly, and old themselves. They might even be dirty. We’re just not going to think about it.
  • Dickens spends a good deal of time describing the smallness, ugliness, oldness, etc. of the bank.
  • Why? Well, Dickens’s style tends to focus on the tiny details that construct everyday life in London.
  • Since most of this novel is set in France, he doesn’t have too many opportunities to catalogue life in London. He’s making the most of the chances he has.
  • In a typically sneaky Dickensian move, the narrator transitions from talking about Tellson’s to meditating on the state of justice in England.
  • As he says, putting people to death is the answer for everything: murders and petty thieves tend to get the same punishment, regardless of how unjust this seems to be.
  • Come to think of it, our narrator seems to think that the whole system is pretty darn unjust.
  • We’re introduced to Jerry Cruncher. He’s the odd-jobs man at Tellson’s.
  • When we catch up with him, however, he’s not at Tellson’s.
  • He’s at home.
  • And he’s really, really pissed off.
  • You see, his wife is a religious woman. She’s often on her knees, praying to God.
  • This upsets Mr. Cruncher.
  • He thinks that his wife is praying against him.
  • In fact, he’s certain that her "flopping" down on her knees is another way for her to undermine his efforts to become a respectable businessman.
  • He beats up on his wife for a while, and then he lectures his son about the sins of his mother.
  • Asking his son to keep a close eye on Mrs. Cruncher in case she starts to "flop" again, he sits down to eat breakfast.
  • Around nine, he and his son head to Tellson’s.
  • Jerry and Jerry Jr. (that’s his son, by the way) look remarkably alike.
  • We just thought we should mention it. It’s a handy bit of information that just might come in useful later.
  • As soon as they get to Tellson’s, someone from the bank calls for a porter.
  • Jerry Jr. gets really excited. It looks like they have a job for the morning.

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