Study Guide

David Copperfield Chapter 57

By Charles Dickens

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Chapter 57

The Emigrants

  • David decides not to tell Mr. Peggotty or Emily about what has happened to Steerforth or Ham.
  • He asks Mr. Micawber to help him keep the secret, which Mr. Micawber promises to do.
  • David notices that Mr. Micawber and Master Micawber have started behaving like swashbuckling adventurers in preparation for their trip to Australia – they'll burst into sea chanties at the drop of a hat, and so on.
  • Traddles and David come to the Micawbers' house to see them off.
  • David tells Traddles about Steerforth's death.
  • Traddles is shocked, of course.
  • Miss Betsey, Peggotty, and Agnes all come to help the Micawbers pack.
  • David tells Peggotty that Ham is well, and he promises Mr. Peggotty that he delivered Emily's letter to Ham. They don't suspect a thing.
  • The Micawbers are setting sail at 7 A.M.
  • Until then, Mr. Micawber plans to sit with Mr. Peggotty to watch their luggage.
  • Mr. Micawber asks Mrs. Micawber to produce her famous punch so they can all drink a toast to future success.
  • All of this merrymaking is interrupted when a boy comes in to tell Mr. Micawber that he has a visitor.
  • Mrs. Micawber wonders if it is a member of her family.
  • Mr. Micawber hesitates to go and see, but eventually, he heads out to meet his guest.
  • Sadly, Mrs. Micawber was wrong: it's not a member of her family, it's someone who has come to arrest Mr. Micawber for yet another debt.
  • David goes down to pay the money Mr. Micawber owes.
  • Mr. Micawber hugs David and thanks him.
  • Mr. Micawber then remembers to hand Traddles a complete account of all of his debts.
  • Mrs. Micawber still predicts that her family will come to make amends.
  • Miss Betsey asks Mrs. Micawber to write to them regularly.
  • The Micawbers go off into fantasies of what the voyage to Australia will be like – lots of singing and dolphins and exciting objects.
  • Mrs. Micawber hopes that someday, the Micawbers might be able to return again to England.
  • Mr. Micawber doesn't particularly want to go home.
  • This sparks off yet another argument.
  • Miss Betsey cuts off this fight to drink a toast to all the people sailing away the next day.
  • That afternoon, David goes to the docks.
  • He finds Mr. Peggotty, who tells David that Mr. Micawber has, once again, been arrested for his debts.
  • Mr. Peggotty has used some of David's money to bail him out.
  • Mr. Micawber comes up and takes Mr. Peggotty's arm in a gesture of friendship.
  • David is quite surprised by the people collected around the boat to Australia, people of all ages, shapes, and sizes.
  • Mr. Peggotty asks David if there's anything they have forgotten.
  • David asks about Martha Endell, the younger woman who is helping Mrs. Gummidge arrange their luggage.
  • Apparently, Mr. Peggotty has decided to take Martha with Emily to Australia.
  • Mr. Peggotty's generosity impresses David.
  • David gives Mr. Peggotty the message Ham had asked him to tell Mr. Peggotty, and Mr. Peggotty gives messages to Ham in return. (So, David has successfully kept the truth of Ham's death from Mr. Peggotty.)
  • After hugging Mr. Peggotty, David leaves the dock with Peggotty.
  • David sees Emily standing on the deck next to her uncle. She sees David and waves goodbye.

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