Study Guide

David Copperfield Chapter 9

By Charles Dickens

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Chapter 9

I Have a Memorable Birthday

  • Two months pass between the end of winter holidays and David's birthday in March.
  • He remembers this birthday particularly because of what happened on it.
  • Mr. Sharp, the teacher at Salem House, comes in to the classroom and tells David to go to the parlor.
  • David thinks he's going to get another care package from Peggotty.
  • He finds Mr. Creakle eating breakfast with Mrs. Creakle.
  • Mrs. Creakle holds an open letter in front of her.
  • She tells David that the world changes all around us all the time, and that people pass from it throughout our lives.
  • And then Mrs. Creakle informs David that his mother has died, and that his little brother is ill and will probably pass away soon.
  • Mrs. Creakle keeps David in the parlor all day while he weeps and dozes off in turn.
  • David realizes that he is an orphan now.
  • He is really sad that his mother has died, but at the same time, he is aware of a new dignity he feels in relation to his classmates.
  • David heads home for the funeral.
  • The man who escorts him through London this time is not Mr. Barkis: it is another man, Mr. Omer, who brings David to a workshop with three seamstresses who are stitching up a black set of clothes for David.
  • It turns out (rather morbidly) that Mr. Omer also stitched the clothes David's father was buried in.
  • Mr. Omer breaks the news that the baby has died.
  • David starts to cry once more, and Minnie Omer comforts him.
  • A man carrying some nails appears – he seems to be Minnie's sweetheart.
  • He has built a coffin for David's mother and brother.
  • Having made these funeral preparations, the Omers and Joram, the carpenter, all get into a coach with David.
  • David feels odd: he is miserable, but he is surrounded by people enjoying their ride.
  • When David arrives, he is immediately greeted by Peggotty, who bursts into tears and hugs him when she sees him.
  • Mr. Murdstone is sitting in the parlor weeping silently next to the fire.
  • Miss Murdstone asks David in a whisper if he has been measured for his mourning clothes. That's all she offers him in terms of comfort.
  • Mr. Murdstone moves restlessly through the house, rarely speaking to Miss Murdstone and never to David.
  • David also sees very little of Peggotty until the funeral.
  • At the funeral, Mr. Chillip (the doctor who delivered David in the first chapter) greets David kindly.
  • Mr. Chillip tries to draw Miss Murdstone into a conversation about how much David has grown, but she refuses to acknowledge David.
  • David recalls the pallbearers carrying his mother's coffin from the garden down the path to the cemetery.
  • Peggotty comes in to David's room when all is finished.
  • She explains that Mrs. Copperfield had been ill and unhappy for a long time, that she improved a bit when her baby was born, but she never really recovered her health.
  • Mrs. Copperfield felt that she was going to die. She told Peggotty first and then Mr. Murdstone about a week before it happened.
  • On her deathbed, Mrs. Copperfield tells Peggotty to bury her baby with her if he should die, too.
  • She also praises Mr. Copperfield's loving heart.
  • Finally, at dawn, Mrs. Copperfield asks Peggotty to hold her. She dies softly, like a child going to sleep.
  • (We are in tears now, in case you may have wondered.)
  • After his mother's death, David only remembers her as she used to be when he was a young child.

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