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 36


Tom Pinch’s view of the world has changed since his disenchantment with Pecksniff. He feels empty.

His friend, the organist’s assistant, advises him to go to London to seek his fortune. Tom had already considered this, for he wishes to see both his sister and John Westlock. He makes the necessary arrangements, feeling a sense of freedom in managing his destiny.

Tom enjoys the trip, admiring both the coachman and guard—both who represent the stock of people from London. Mrs. Lupin meets the coach to drop off his trunk. Tom tells her to tell Mary he was in good spirits. He promises to write. Mrs. Lupin hands him a basket full of food. Tom reflects how this coach used to carry off his friends, and now it was taking him off. The coachman remarks on what a fine woman Mrs. Lupin is, and Tom agrees.

Tom arrives in London. He seeks out Westlock in the morning. He knocks on the door, and a voice yells at him to enter. John greets Tom happily, inquires about Pecksniff, and offers Tom breakfast. Tom tells Westlock that he has been dismissed by Pecksniff, though he couldn’t have stayed in the man’s employ after learning his true character. He says he’ll discuss it another time, but not now. John is sorry about joking about Tom’s devotion to Pecksniff. Seeing how torn up Tom is, he isn’t sure whether he is glad or sorry that Tom has finally realized what Pecksniff was.

John insists that Tom stay with him. He assumes Tom will want to see his sister, so he gives him the key to the house. Tom looks at the classifieds for work, remarking that people advertise what they are looking for—and yet never seem to accept offers meeting their requirements. It is like they want their wishes to be unfulfilled so they can complain about them.

Tom goes to the house where his sister is employed. He finds the servants extremely rude. He hears a quarrel in the next room, and his sister runs out to greet him. Seeing she is distressed and fearing the family is abusing her, Tom becomes angry. Ruth says she can no longer stay there.

The footman tells them that the master wishes to speak with both of them. Ruth introduces her brother. The master of the house states he is very displeased with Ruth. Tom asks why. The man says that Ruth cannot earn her pupil’s confidence or respect. If she weren’t an orphan, he would have turned her out. Tom tells the man that Ruth does have a family, so there is no need for her to stay in this man’s employ if he is dissatisfied with her. Tom goes on to say that the child is a product of her parents, not of his sister. They can’t expect their children to respect people if they don’t respect people.

Ruth and Tom leave. Since he now has his sister with him, he decides it best to look for other lodgings. He doesn’t want to impose further on John Westlock, and he knows his sister wouldn’t be comfortable in a bachelor’s apartment. They find a cheap house to rent and buy groceries. Tom goes to meet with John.

Charles Dickens