Study Guide

Little Dorrit Book 1, Chapter 23

By Charles Dickens

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Book 1, Chapter 23

Machinery in Motion    

  • The Arthur and Doyce deal is done, and now they're partners in Doyce's business. Everything is on the up and up, the total diametric opposite of how the Clennam business was run before. (Ahem: This is important!)
  • Arthur is psyched, Doyce is psyched, Meagles is psyched for having set the whole thing up. Awesome.
  • One day, working in his new little office in the factory in Bleeding Heart Yard, Arthur gets visitors. It's Flora! And Mr. F's Aunt!  He's totally pained that they are there, but what can you do.
  • Mr. F's Aunt continues to hate him and yell at him in a half-senile fashion. Meanwhile, Flora continues to insinuate that they still have some kind of romantic ties and that their forbidden love is about to discovered at any moment.
  • Arthur can't deal with either of them. But it turns out that Flora is actually there because she's going to hire Little Dorrit to do needlework. Her dad, Mr. Casby, mentioned Little Dorrit as someone Arthur had recommended.
  • Arthur is thrilled, and asks Flora to help Little Dorrit in whatever way she can.
  • Pancks and Mr. Casby come in to wish Arthur well with his new job. Arthur in turn thanks them for the Little Dorrit thing, and Pancks clarifies that Mr. Casby didn't recommend her, because he doesn't know her.  Pancks does a little speech about credit-worthiness and how it's hard to measure just by looking at someone. Which is not really relevant to their discussion... but is very relevant to the themes of the novel! (By which Shmoop means, this is a part that you should be underlining. Go, underline.)
  • Time to go.
  • Except, suddenly, Mr. F's Aunt refuses to leave and has to be tricked into going by Pancks.
  • He escorts everyone out and then comes back to Arthur alone.
  • Pancks asks Arthur what he knows about the Dorrits.
  • Arthur is kind of confused, but Pancks tells him that he means well and that this has nothing to do with Casby or any devious business practices.  So Arthur tells him the very little he knows.
  • Before leaving, Pancks asks Arthur about "a lame foreigner with a stick" – obviously Cavalletto – who wants to rent a room. Arthur vouches for him, which comes back a little bit to the discussion about Casby not being able to vouch for Little Dorrit. This vouching stuff is key – take our word for it.
  • Pancks spends the rest of the day harassing the Bleeding Heart Yard tenants for rent money. They agree that he's awful and wish that Casby himself were doing the rent-collecting.
  • But – ooh, shocking twist coming up! – when Pancks goes to report to Casby at the end of the day, we see that it's actually the super-nice, awesome-seeming Casby who is the greedy monster, yelling at Pancks for being too easy on the renters.

Little Dorrit Book 1, Chapter 23 Study Group

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