Study Guide

Little Dorrit Book 1, Chapter 5

By Charles Dickens

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Book 1, Chapter 5

Family Affairs

  • The next day Arthur tells his mom that he doesn't want to work for the Clennam House of Terror – ahem, we mean the Clennam House of Banking or Some Other Kind of Unspecified Financial Stuff – any longer.
  • As predicted, Mrs. C. gets mad. But she gets a grip and declares that this is exactly the kind of God-sent punishment that she deserves.
  • She gets a kick out of keeping kind of a balance sheet with Heaven, with her own sins on one side and whatever punishments she inflicts on herself or thinks are inflicted on her on the other.
  • Arthur then asks if it's possible that his dad had some kind of regret that he hadn't dealt with. Maybe a person he did something bad to? Someone their company had ripped off?
  • Arthur begs his mom to help him figure this out and promises to pay restitution to the wronged person out of his own pocket.
  • Mrs. Clennam calls Flintwinch, then throws a tantrum. How dare Arthur accuse his dead father of anything? And how is she supposed to spy on her dead husband?
  • Flintwinch kind of doesn't get involved, but he tells Arthur his father never did anything wrong and says not to accuse or suspect him. Then he makes Mrs. Clennam tell Arthur the same thing.
  • Little Dorrit brings in Mrs. Clennam's food, but Mrs. C. decides to punish herself by not eating.
  • Meanwhile, Arthur is shocked to realize that Little Dorrit is not actually a young girl, like he'd thought, but a 22-year-old woman who is so tiny that she looks like a kid.
  • Affery gives Arthur the deets on Little Dorrit. She does needlework at the Clennam house for twelve hours a day. No one knows what she does with the other twelve hours. She refuses to eat in public or in front of anyone else. Arthur also notices that his mom seems slightly nicer to Little Dorrit than to anyone else.
  • Arthur decides that the house is so depressing that he'd rather stay at the inn after all.
  • Also, he decides to start stalking Little Dorrit to find out more about her. And since this is way before he could just Google her or read her Facebook page, he has to actually physically follow her around.

Little Dorrit Book 1, Chapter 5 Study Group

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