Study Guide

Little Dorrit Book 2, Chapter 23

By Charles Dickens

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Book 2, Chapter 23

Mistress Affery makes a Conditional Promise, respecting her Dreams

  • Arthur can't let the Blandois thing go. Why on earth is his mother dealing with this guy?
  • He decides to investigate and goes to his mother's house to speak to Affery.
  • Flintwinch is at the door, which is too bad, because obviously he won't get anything out of him.
  • Flintwinch is none too friendly, says they've had no news, and tells Arthur to mind his own business.
  • Arthur goes upstairs, but Mrs. Clennam is not alone – Flora and Casby are there visiting.
  • Arthur is disappointed but decides to talk to mommy alone anyway. He asks her about Blandois and tells her he was in jail on suspicion of murder.
  • Mrs. Clennam seems to kind of flinch at this but keeps herself as cold as ever and tells Arthur that she doesn't know or care about any of it. She also wonders if this is reliable information. Arthur tells her about Mr. Baptist and how he used to be a prisoner too.
  • Mrs. Clennam starts to tell this bit of news to Flora and Casby, but Arthur stops her and asks her to keep Mr. Baptist's past a secret.
  • And so his mom wins this round and starts in on how it's really Arthur who wants to keep secrets, and look at him keeping secrets when no one else has any.
  • Arthur is defeated by this.
  • His next stratagem is to try again to talk to Affery, and he whispers to Flora to ask for a tour of the house. She's totally psyched, thinking Arthur is about to propose, and immediately makes the tour happen.
  • Affery carries the light for them... but Flintwinch comes along too. Dang.
  • Finally, a piece of luck – someone is at the door. Flintwinch goes to answer it and, after much cajoling, Arthur begs Affery to tell him something – anything.
  • Mostly, she just tells him about the noises she keeps hearing in the house, and that Blandois heard the noise too when he visited. Arthur has noticed how decrepit and dusty the house is.
  • He begs Affery to tell him more, but she is terrified of being beaten by Flintwinch (a pretty fair bet, since he is constantly hitting and choking her even in front of other people). She's scared of Mrs. Clennam too.
  • She tells Arthur that if he ever gets the upper hand in a conversation with the two of them in front of Affery, she'll tell him what she knows.
  • They finish the tour, get back to Mrs. Clennam's room, and Arthur returns Flora to her father.

Little Dorrit Book 2, Chapter 23 Study Group

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