Study Guide

Hard Times Book 3, Chapter 8

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Book 3, Chapter 8


  • Gradgrind starts to plead with Bitzer to release Tom. But Bitzer was the ultimate "just the facts" education student, so he lacks any empathy or any other emotions. Gradgrind asks him to spare Tom as a father, then because Bitzer went to his school, and finally, he is reduced to offering Bitzer money.
  • But Bitzer evaluates his choices based only on what he thinks will be best for himself.
  • He concludes that if he turns Tom in to Bounderby, Bounderby will give him Tom's old job.
  • Bitzer thus lives up to the "fundamental principle of the Gradgrind philosophy, that everything was to be paid for. Nobody was ever on any account to give anybody anything or render anybody help without purchase."
  • Mr. Sleary watches this, and says that he has to take Bitzer's side. But, he offers to take Tom back to Coketown in his own carriage to save face a little bit. Louisa and Gradgrind are sad that Sleary is no longer on their side, but Sissy sees that he is actually planning something.
  • Sleary quietly tells Sissy that the plan is to use the trick circus horses to get around Bitzer and have Tom switch carriages.
  • That night, Sleary comes to Gradgrind's inn and tells him that the plan went off without a hitch and that Tom is already on a boat sailing to Canada.
  • Gradgrind wants to repay Sleary, but Sleary says that the best way to repay him is to let people go to the circus when it's in town and not to say anything bad about it.
  • Sleary also tells Gradgrind that recently Sissy's father's dog Merrylegs found him, and then died right after he got to Sleary's. The two talk about this amazing feat, and then realize that this means that Sissy's father is dead. Sleary ends with another little talk about how "people mutht be amuthed" and can't always be working without any pleasure.

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