Sometimes Dickens starts his chapters with descriptions of a place. These tend to be kind of hard for me to get through. The beginnings of Bleak House and Little Dorrit are the same. Barnaby’s 4th chapter started off with a description of the London 60 years before the book was written. This one peaked my interest and I wonder if there is a book of maps out there somewhere that shows the evolution of London? It would be a must for a serious Dickens fan.
Chapter 4 concentrates on Mr. Varden’s family. His daughter Dolly and his wife. Are Joe Willet(the boy from the Inn) and Dolly Varden sweethearts? I think so. There is always some sort of romance, most often young love in Dickens books. Can’t wait to see how this one turns out.
There is also unrequited love in the form of Mr. Varden’s apprentice, Mr. Simon Tappertit(what a name!). He reminds me of Mr. Kenge in Bleak House only not as likable. I forsee trouble between him and Dolly in the future. His fixation on her disturbs me.
Chapter 5 wraps up the fate of the man that Varden and Barnaby found in the street. It also introduces us to Barnaby’s mother. Barnaby doesn’t make an appearance, he’s asleep upstairs. We do learn an important fact about him. Barnaby was born on the day of his father’s murder. I can’t help but think that this will be more significant down the road.
Mr. Varden grows more lovable by the minute. Not only by the kind attention to his daughter, but in his defense of Barnaby to his mother.
“”’In good time,’ said the locksmith, kindly, ‘in good time—don’t be down-hearted. To my mind he grows wiser every day.'”, [Dickens, Charles, Barnaby Rudge]
As slow as the chapter began, that’s how shocking the ending. How does Mrs. Rudge know the man who comes to the door? Is he the mysterious man from the Inn and the man that Varden encountered on the road? Why is she so frightened and why won’t she let anyone go after him? We probably won’t get those answers any time soon, but I’m so glad it’s Saturday and I can read the next two chapters. One thing I will say for Dickens, he makes you want to read the next chapter like no one else.
Happy reading. See you next week for 6 & 7.