Study Guide

Little Dorrit Book 2, Chapter 1

By Charles Dickens

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Book 2, Chapter 1

Fellow Travelers

  • Shmoop just wants to point out that this chapter has the same title as Book 1, Chapter 2. Might be important, might not – but it's always good to notice these things.
  • We're suddenly in the Alps, visiting the famous Saint Bernard Pass monastery (where the St. Bernard dogs were used to save travelers).
  • It's cold, dark, snowy, and generally unpleasant. Inside all the travelers come to warm up by the fire.
  • The narrator doesn't name the characters, but it's easy to figure out who they are by their verbal tics (see Shmoop's "Characterization" section for more on that).
  • Blandois is apparently traveling with the Gowans. He is all overcompensating gentlemanliness, asking about the Dorrit ladies' health. They are doing fine.
  • Dorrit, meanwhile, is also overcompensating, playing the grand old gentleman.
  • Gowan is all passive-aggressive bitterness, snapping at Tip for blocking the fire.
  • As all the men jockey for conversational position, no one notices that Pet has passed out. We don't know who finally notices – the text reads, "it was discovered" that she had fainted (2.1.34). It's a small detail, sure, but a telling one.
  • Gowan carries Pet upstairs and Fanny sends up some servants to make sure she's OK.
  • Meanwhile, Dorrit and Blandois bandy some words about Gowan's snappishness. They decide that they are all gentlemen together in a gentlemanly fashion. Gentlemen, gentlemen, gentlemen.
  • It's actually pretty funny to see these two posers trying to out-fake each other.
  • Gowan comes back and interrogates one of the monks about the famous dogs and how they save people. It gets a little morbid.
  • Dorrit then decides to steer the conversation and asks the monks how they bear the winter months when there are no travelers.
  • The monks seem like they're OK with it, though the cold does impact their health.
  • Dorrit presses the issue –what about the confinement? And the lack of freedom? And the fact that they can't get out? (Are you sensing a theme?)
  • The monks are kind of like, um, well, we manage.
  • Meanwhile, Amy goes upstairs to check on Pet.
  • She apparently already knows that Pet is the woman Arthur was in love with. Also, she has a note from Arthur that introduces her to Pet as a nice person. Aw….
  • Amy is supposed to write back to Arthur to say whether Pet is happy and well. Is Pet happy and well? Pet says yes. We're kind of getting the impression that no, not really, but whatever.
  • Amy goes back down, accompanied by Blandois, who scares the crap out of her just by existing.
  • But it turns out that everyone has gone to sleep.
  • This kind of irritates Blandois, who would rather stay up and hang out, but what can you do.
  • He comes and signs his name on the monastery guest registry, then goes to bed.

Little Dorrit Book 2, Chapter 1 Study Group

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