Study Guide

Our Mutual Friend Book 2, Part 6, Chapter 1

By Charles Dickens

Book 2, Part 6, Chapter 1

Of an Educational Character

  • Book 2 is called "Birds Of A Feather." We assumed that somebody is going to be "flocking together."
  • We look in on young Charley Hexam, who ran away from his father Gaffer in order to get into school and educate himself. According to the narrator, Charley's school has teachers who really mean well, but who can be pretty incompetent.
  • Despite his teachers' lack of ability, Charley is smart enough to educate himself effectively.
  • One day, Charley asks his headmaster, Bradley Headstone, for permission to visit his sister Lizzie. Headstone agrees and even offers to come along himself. He has taken a deep interest in Charley and wants to see where he comes from.
  • We find out that there is a female teacher at Charley's school who is secretly in love with Mr. Headstone. But unfortunately, Headstone doesn't return the affection.
  • When Charley and Headstone get to Lizzie's new apartment, they head inside and find the "master of the house," which is a tiny hunchbacked girl named Jenny who sews dolls' clothing for a living.
  • The girl seems suspicious of the two men, saying that she knows what they're up to (although she never specifies what they're up to). The two men wait until Lizzie gets back.
  • Lizzie shows up and hugs Charley. It's pretty clear that Bradley Headstone has a crush on Lizzie from the moment he sees her.
  • When the girl named Jenny is gone, Charley asks Lizzie what she's doing hanging with a deformed girl like that. Lizzie has sympathy for the girl and wants to be her friend, but Charley thinks Lizzie is just holding herself back.
  • He thinks Lizzie should just keep raising herself up like he has (c'mon Charlieā€”don't be so closed-minded).
  • Eventually, Charley and Headstone leave, although it's clearly tough for Headstone. As they go, they are passed by Eugene Wrayburn, the lawyer. Charley stops and stares at Eugene because Eugene has been rude to him in the past.
  • Charley has the thought that maybe Mr. Headstone could become a tutor to his sister Lizzie. Since Headstone clearly has a crush on Lizzie, he agrees.
  • They get back to the schoolhouse. The teacher Mrs. Peecher gets all heart-achey when she hears Mr. Headstone go into his little house and lock the door.