Study Guide

Bleak House Chapter 20

By Charles Dickens

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Chapter 20

A New Lodger

  • (Still third-person narrator.)
  • Since all even mildly important law people are away on summer vacation, there's not much to do for low-level clerks like Guppy. He hangs out in his office, bored out of his mind.
  • Guppy is paranoid about the newly arrived Richard Carstone. Guppy is obsessed with the idea that everyone is against him in the office (which is not true), and plans and schemes against them in response.
  • His friend Young Smallweed comes to visit. Young Smallweed is 15 going on 40. He's been raised on the street and in the law court and is kind of like a little old man. Young Smallweed looks up to Guppy and wants to be just like him.
  • They are soon joined by Tony Jobling, a clerk from another law firm.
  • The three go out for lunch.
  • Tony brings up Esther (really, really indirectly) and Guppy immediately snaps at him for mentioning it.
  • Smallweed takes them to a neighborhood diner, where everybody knows his name, and where he apparently has the hots for a 40-year-old waitress. Seriously.
  • Jobling starts to complain about his life. He was recently fired from his job for some misappropriation of funds (i.e. stealing). Also, he's lost a ton of money at the track. Now he's broke and thinking about enlisting in the army.
  • Guppy commiserates but reminds him that he was equally broke when they went to check out Chesney Wold together.
  • Then Guppy has a brainstorm. Jobling can work for Snagsby, who likes Guppy and will hire whomever he recommends. He'll be a law writer. Also, Jobling will rent Nemo's old room at Krook's place, since it's cheap and he can live there under a different name.
  • Guppy then says that rumor has it that Krook is actually super rich and that no one can figure out what his deal really is. Maybe Jobling will be able to.
  • This is a good plan, they all decide.
  • Jobling and Guppy go over to Krook's.
  • Krook is plastered and passed out. For a long time they can't wake him up, and when they do, he stumbles around completely wasted and out of it. Finally he comes to.
  • Jobling buys him another bottle of gin, and immediately they're his best friends. (Well, that, and he already knows Guppy.)
  • Guppy introduces Jobling as Mr. Weevle, and Krook is happy to have him.
  • Snagsby is also happy to have him.
  • Jobling/Weevle spends his nights reading the celebrity gossip in the newspapers and hanging out with Krook. Word on the street has it that maybe he will be Krook's heir.

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