Study Guide

Little Dorrit Book 2, Chapter 3

By Charles Dickens

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Book 2, Chapter 3

On the Road

  • The next morning the Dorrits and their huge retinue of servants pack up to go down the mountains into Italy.
  • Amy tells Tip that Pet Gowan is doing better, and he worries that she's been trying to take care of her – which is low-class and something only servants are supposed to do.
  • Fanny overhears this exchange and loses it. She figures out that Pet must know Arthur, who apparently did something she finds super-offensive in between the novel's two books.
  • It's not clear what this thing Arthur did is, but Fanny writes him off entirely.
  • Dorrit is less angry about Arthur but tells Amy she is just not doing enough to preserve their family dignity.
  • Poor Amy. No one wants to hang out with Prisony McPrisonson. The only person who is nice to her is her uncle Frederick, who goes out of his way to make sure she is well taken care of and that everyone defers to her. Too bad he's a half-senile old man.
  • After some traveling, the Dorrits get to Venice.
  • When they arrive at their hotel, the innkeeper tells them that a lady and gentleman are using their dining room and will be out in a minute.
  • Dorrit flips his lid and starts yelling at the innkeeper – why is he being treated as less important than the lady?
  • The poor guy doesn't know what to say, and Dorrit threatens to leave the hotel, until out of the dining room pops... Edmund Sparkler!
  • He's all apologies and stuff, and his mom Mrs. Merdle is not too far behind with some more apologies. In the middle of apologizing, she recognizes Fanny and Amy.
  • But Mrs. Merdle is a lady of the world, so she plays it off like she's never met either of them before. Dorrit is satisfied with the apologies, and Mrs. Merdle and Edmund Sparkler go off in the carriage, with Edmund never taking his eyes off Fanny.
  • Fanny is totally psyched by this encounter and is a in a good mood for a while afterwards.
  • Amy, meanwhile, is living in kind of a dream world. They go around Venice and everything seems dreamy and strange to her – the canals and the museums and all the people. All she does is think about the prison and wonder how it's possible that it still exists.
  • It's also very stressful for her to no longer be taking physical care of her father's needs and to be replaced by servants.
  • Looks like Amy is going to have to find a new identity!

Little Dorrit Book 2, Chapter 3 Study Group

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