Study Guide

Our Mutual Friend Book 1, Part 1, Chapter 1

By Charles Dickens

Book 1, Part 1, Chapter 1

On the Look-Out

  • Book 1 is called "The Cup and the Lip," which makes this novel sound like it's going to be about, erm, drinking tea? Soup?
  • Anyway, we open the book looking in on two people in a boat. One is a middle-aged man and the other is a nineteen-year-old girl.
  • There seems to be something bothering the young woman, and the man (named Gaffer) wants to know what it is. They are apparently towing something behind their boat that is creeping out the girl—whose name is Lizzie.
  • The man gets annoyed with her because he thinks that the thing they're towing is also the source of his income. We still don't know what this "thing" is, though.
  • As they row along, another fella rows his boat alongside theirs and asks Gaffer what he's towing. Gaffer brushes him off and the other man gets really offended. Apparently, he and Gaffer used to be partners. But Gaffer put an end to it and now the man is sour about being left out.
  • Despite the man's attempts to stay close to Gaffer's boat, Lizzie pulls hard on the oars and separates herself and Gaffer from the other guy.
  • We still have no clue what Gaffer and Lizzie are towing, though.