Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Summary Chapter 15


Martin and Mark both wake up with aching heads, being unaccustomed to sea travel. They are in steerage on a ship called “The Screw.” The stifling cabin is full of other passengers, who are also ill. The people are from many different countries. Mark is happy because the circumstances are very miserable, and therefore he gains merit in being jolly in them. Despite the conditions being ripe for ill-temper, the passengers are actually kind to each other.

Mark offers to wash a woman’s children if she cooks breakfast for them. He has a soft spot for this woman, who he feels sorry for. He has given her his coat to keep her warm. Martin is rather irritated that Mark is concerning himself with people that don’t belong to him.

Mark becomes very popular with the crew and passengers. He is very helpful and always in good humor, even though he is ill as well. When he recovers, he is even more helpful and cheerful. However, he becomes unhappy with his new popularity, because things become too easy for him to be happy…and therefore there is no merit in them.

Martin asks when they will reach port. Mark answers within the next week if the ship keeps up its pace. He tells Martin he would do better if he got some air. Martin is mortified, though, that better class passengers might see him mixing with beggars. Mark tells him a gentleman would feel better in the air, and the better class passengers aren’t going to pay him any mind anyway. Martin tells Mark he is wrong. Martin wants to conceal his circumstances from people so that he doesn’t get marked as a beggar in a new country. He tells Mark that he is the most unfortunate person on this ship. He orders Mark to get him some food and to ask that woman to keep her children quiet. Mark doesn’t approve of this attitude, but he becomes happier because suddenly his life is not easy after all.

The passengers become excited as they get closer to the end of their trip. Every day they hope they will arrive. When they finally get there, Mark remarks that he would find any land agreeable after so much water.

Charles Dickens