Study Guide

David Copperfield Chapter 37

By Charles Dickens

Chapter 37

A Little Cold Water

  • David is so excited to be sacrificing for Dora's sake that he almost becomes a vegetarian (even he can't explain the logic of this idea).
  • But meanwhile, Dora has no idea that David is busy working hard in her name.
  • Miss Betsey, David, and Mr. Dick are all relatively comfortable in their new homes.
  • David's aunt has won out with Mrs. Crupp, who basically never leaves her kitchen now.
  • Miss Betsey is also so neat and clever that she has remade David's rooms to seem better than before.
  • Peggotty also seems very pleased to help out with these arrangements.
  • Eventually, though, she has to go home and look after Ham.
  • Peggotty cries when she parts from David, and offers him money if he needs it.
  • At the end of his work day, David plans to go to Miss Mills's house, where he believes that Dora is visiting.
  • David finds Dora and immediately asks her if she could love a beggar?
  • Dora tells him not to be so silly, or she'll have Jip bite him.
  • David is charmed by Dora's childishness.
  • But Dora is frightened by David's words, and he has to spend a lot of time soothing all of her fears.
  • She can't bear to hear David talk of being poor and working hard.
  • Dora forbids David from being practical because it scares her.
  • David doesn't want it to scare her; he wants her to be inspired.
  • Dora says she's not strong enough to be inspired.
  • She begs David not to frighten her.
  • David says he won't, but he does ask her to learn some things: housekeeping, simple accounting, and how to cook.
  • Dora freaks out again and begs to see Miss Mills.
  • Dora goes into hysterics, and David thinks he's been a brute to her.
  • Miss Mills comes in, figures out what David has told Dora, and starts to calm Dora down.
  • David asks if he was right to ask Dora to think about keeping household accounts and learning how to cook?
  • Miss Mills answers frankly: no. Dora is not suited to that kind of life, though it would be useful if she could learn that kind of thing.
  • David asks Miss Mills – if Dora ever shows any interest in such serious things – to encourage her to learn.
  • Dora has calmed down and returns to teasing Jip and playing and singing like a child.
  • She is disturbed to hear that David has to get up at 5:00 AM to work.
  • Dora tells him to stop working: why should he? Dora clearly has no idea that we need to work to live.
  • Even though David still really loves Dora, he's starting to think pretty hard about how much he frightened Dora by asking her to be serious.

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