Study Guide

A Tale of Two Cities Volume I, Chapter Six – The Shoemaker

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Volume I, Chapter Six – The Shoemaker

  • Defarge greets the white-haired shoemaker; he responds vaguely.
  • The very voice of Dr. Manette seems to have shriveled inside of him.
  • The lesson of this chapter, in case you haven’t guessed, is that prison is a very, very unhappy place.
  • Don’t go there.
  • We’re not kidding. Just look at Dr. Manette.
  • Defarge asks the doctor if he can bear a little more light in the room.
  • The doctor replies that he must bear it if Defarge chooses to open a window.
  • Apparently they’re not so into free will and choice and all that good stuff in prison.
  • We repeat: prison is bad.
  • It’s so bad, in fact, that Dr. Manette seems to think that he never left it.
  • Defarge introduces Mr. Lorry, but Dr. Manette seems to have forgotten him completely.
  • In fact, when he’s asked what his own name is, Dr. Manette replies, "One Hundred and Five, North Tower."
  • After an awkward pause, Mr. Lorry asks if Dr. Manette has been a shoemaker all his life.
  • The doctor replies that he actually learned how to make shoes in prison.
  • Flustered, Mr. Lorry asks if he remembers nothing about a banker from long ago.
  • For a moment, Dr. Manette thinks he remembers something…but it’s too far off, too long ago.
  • Lucie moves slowly forward. She stops in front of his workbench.
  • Startled, he asks who she is. Slowly, he reaches up and touches her golden hair.
  • (Sigh. It’s a tear-jerker, we promise you.)
  • He recognizes the hair…it’s her hair.
  • Slowly, he begins to remember. Lucie puts her arms around him and promises to tell him some other time who her mother and father were.
  • For now, though, she promises to take care of him.
  • France, she declares, is too wicked a country for them to stay in. They’ll return to England, where she can honor the man who is her father properly.
  • Dr. Manette begins to cry.
  • Relieved, Defarge and Mr. Lorry begin to prepare for the journey.
  • As they leave the room, Lucie asks her father if he remembers coming to this place. He doesn’t.
  • In fact, he doesn’t remember anything but being in prison. Everything after that is a blank.
  • As they pass through the gates of Paris, a guardsman asks for the doctor’s traveling papers.
  • Defarge whispers to him as he shows him the papers; the man looks in astonishment at the doctor.
  • Rolling away in the carriage, Mr. Lorry remembers again the conversation he imagined with a dead man. Does the doctor really want to be recalled to life?

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