Study Guide

The Mill on the Floss Book 3, Chapter 5

By George Eliot

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Book 3, Chapter 5

Tom Applies His Knife to the Oyster

  • Tom goes to St. Ogg’s the next day to see his uncle, Mr. Deane.
  • He plans to ask Mr. Deane to help him find some sort of a job.
  • Tom is depressed, but determined, and hopes that in the future he’ll clear his father’s name and become a successful man of business.
  • The people in town ask Tom how his father is, or else gossip about him in Tom’s earshot. Tom is agitated.
  • He arrives at Guest and Co., Mr. Deane’s office, but finds out that Mr. Deane is at the bank.
  • Mr. Deane makes Tom wait half an hour before he’ll talk to him.
  • Tom tells Mr. Deane that he wants help finding a job and Mr. Deane starts grilling him about his education and job skills, of which Tom has none.
  • Mr. Deane then gives Tom a very lengthy lecture about how hard the world is and how difficult it is to be successful and get a job. Mr. Deane then tells Tom how he worked his way up from nothing and walked twenty miles in the snow everyday, blah blah blah. He also tells Tom that his education is worthless and that he’ll need to learn real world job skills fast.
  • Tom says that he’s determined to do what he has to, no matter how unpleasant, and Mr. Deane is pleased to hear it. He tells Tom that he has the right sort of attitude and then sends him away with a vague assurance that he will hire him to the company.
  • Tom goes home feeling very depressed and worried about his job prospects.
  • When he gets home, Maggie cheerfully teases Tom about his schooling and Tom lashes out at her, telling her that she is full of it and needs to mind what he says from now on.
  • Maggie runs off and cries. She feels that the worlds in the novels she reads are so much nicer than the real one and she desperately wonders if there’s anything nice in the real world like love and hope.

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