Study Guide

Hard Times Book 3, Chapter 5

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Book 3, Chapter 5


  • Sissy goes over to Rachael's place every day after work. They talk about Stephen, and how no one in town trusts him anymore. Rachael tells Sissy that she is worried that someone has murdered Stephen to keep him out of the way. It really makes no sense to either of them why he hasn't returned. Sissy and Rachael decide to go for a walk in the country the next day.
  • Meanwhile, Mrs. Sparsit goes to Bounderby's house, dragging behind her Mrs. Pegler, who is a suspect in the bank robbery.
  • The sight of one old woman capturing an even older one is enough to draw a huge crowd.
  • Everyone piles into Bounderby's house. Mrs. Sparsit is psyched to have found this suspicious woman, but when Bounderby sees her, she turns out to be…Bounderby's mother!
  • Mrs. Pegler apologizes to Bounderby for being there, but says she couldn't escape from Mrs. Sparsit. Gradgrind starts to tell Mrs. Pegler off for Bounderby's miserable, orphaned childhood that he is always going on about, but she interrupts him to tell a totally different story. Turns out Bounderby had a couple of really loving, supportive parents, who gave him the best of everything. Now he pays his mother thirty pounds a year to stay away (not really all that much for someone as rich as Bounderby actually is). She comes to town once a year to see how he's doing.
  • Everyone is totally floored by this revelation. Really, all Bounderby ever talks about is his upbringing in the gutter and his drunken grandmother – and now we and the townspeople find out it's all a big lie.
  • Meanwhile, Louisa starts being worried that not only did Tom rob the bank, but that he also killed Stephen to throw suspicion off himself.

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