Study Guide

David Copperfield Chapter 2

By Charles Dickens

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Chapter 2

I Observe

  • The first things David can remember from early childhood are (1) his pretty mother, and (2) Peggotty, his mother's not-so-pretty housekeeper.
  • He also remembers his house, which had a pigeon-house with no pigeons and a dog kennel with no dogs.
  • David recalls a series of early sense impressions: of a graveyard covered with mossy grass and the church where he, Peggotty, and his mother go on Sundays.
  • He remembers sitting in the parlor with his mother.
  • One night, as David waits up to see his mother when she comes home from an outing, David asks Peggotty if she has ever been married.
  • Peggotty says no.
  • David continues: but, if you marry someone and that person dies, then you're allowed to marry someone else?
  • Peggotty agrees that you can, if you want to.
  • David thinks that Peggotty is angry with him, but she doesn't seem to be. In fact, she hugs David tightly. He has no idea why Peggotty seems so upset.
  • Finally, David's mother comes home.
  • With her is a man with dark hair and a mustache, who speaks in a deep voice that David doesn't trust.
  • The man insists that David shake his hand, but David really doesn't want to: there's something about this guy that he doesn't like.
  • The man leaves, and David, Mrs. Copperfield, and Peggotty all head in to the parlor.
  • Peggotty asks Mrs. Copperfield if she's had a nice evening; Mrs. Copperfield agrees that she has.
  • David dozes off, and when he wakes up, Peggotty and Mrs. Copperfield are having a bit of an argument.
  • Peggotty says that Mr. Copperfield wouldn't like "such a one as this" (2.49) – presumably the black-haired man.
  • Mrs. Copperfield asks how Peggotty dares to say such unpleasant things to Mrs. Copperfield, when Peggotty knows that Mrs. Copperfield is entirely alone in the world.
  • Mrs. Copperfield thinks Peggotty is suggesting that she doesn't love David enough, and turns to David to ask him if she's a bad mother.
  • Mrs. Copperfield, Peggotty, and David all burst out crying.
  • After this, David remembers seeing the dark-haired man more and more, and Peggotty less and less.
  • David continues to feel resentful and jealous of the dark-haired man. He's not sure why. He's too young to put all the pieces together about what the dark-haired man is doing hanging around his mother all the time.
  • We find out that this dark-haired man is named Mr. Murdstone.
  • One day, Mr. Murdstone comes galloping up and offers to take David for a ride.
  • He takes David down the coast to a hotel, where they meet with two other men, Quinion and Passnidge.
  • Murdstone and Quinion talk right over David's head about Murdstone's plans to marry David's mother.
  • David doesn't understand that Murdstone and Quinion are talking about him whenever they refer to "Brooks of Sheffield."
  • He spends the afternoon not realizing that he's the butt of their jokes about the pretty little widow.
  • David observes that Mr. Murdstone seems much more serious than his two friends, who both seem a bit afraid of Mr. Murdstone.
  • Mr. Murdstone basically never laughs.
  • Once David gets home, he tells his mother all about the nice things that Mr. Murdstone, Quinion, and Passnidge said about Mrs. Copperfield's appearance.
  • She's terribly pleased and flattered.
  • She doesn't want David to tell Peggotty, in case it will make her angry.
  • The next day, Peggotty asks David if he wants to come to visit Peggotty's brother at Yarmouth (a seaside town in England).
  • David's pretty excited at the idea of meeting Peggotty's family and seeing the ocean and fishermen and so on, but he's worried about what his mother will do in his absence.
  • Peggotty says it's fine; Mrs. Copperfield's staying with a neighbor, Mrs. Grayper, for two weeks.
  • As they head out to the cart that will carry them away, Mrs. Copperfield kisses David again and again – she and David have never been parted before.
  • David and Peggotty climb into the cart.
  • Over his shoulder, David turns to see Mr. Murdstone standing next to Mrs. Copperfield.
  • Mr. Murdstone seems to be scolding Mrs. Copperfield for being so emotional.
  • Peggotty observes this scene as well. She looks very unhappy.

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