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Summary Chapter 20

Tip and Fanny grew up in bad circumstances, yet they act like they are from an aristocratic famiy. They have no qualms about taking from those who are worse off than they are.

Tip has no curiosity about who secured his release from prison. He becomes a billiard marker. Tip does love and respect his sister Amy, though that love doesn’t go as far as to alter his behavior.

Tip and Fanny are able to awe poorer people by their claims of once being from a good family.

Little Dorrit sets out to find her sister and uncle at the theater. She is directed to a door with a bunch of men waiting outside of it. When she finds Fanny, her sister is outraged that Amy came through the back way of the theater. Fanny considers herself to be a woman of the world, compared to her sheltered sister.

Amy wants to know more about the lady who gave Fanny a bracelet, which makes her uneasy. They are interrupted as Fanny is called to a dance rehearsal.

Their uncle always keeps to himself, hardly speaking to anyone. He is only roused by his niece calling him.

Fanny remembers the life that Amy Dorrit never knew—a time when the family was wealthy.

Fanny leaves the uncle at a restaurant. She then takes her sister to meet Mrs. Merdle, the woman who gave her the bracelet. The woman lives at an upscale address. Fanny tells Mrs. Merdle that Amy is curious about her, so she decided to bring her. Mrs. Merdle explains that she has a twenty-three year old son. He became fascinated by Fanny and wanted to marry her. This distressed his mother, who is very concerned about their society’s prejudices.

When Mrs. Merdle went to meet Fanny, the girl informed her that despite her circumstances, she comes from a family that is just as good as hers. Mrs. Merdle had bought a cheap, flashy bracelet to bribe Fanny with. She explained to Fanny that their society would not accept such a union, and that she would disown her son if he married Fanny. Fanny tells Mrs. Merdle that she did break it off with her son. Mrs. Merdle also bought some dresses for Fanny to close the deal.

Little Dorrit regrets that Fanny accepted these gifts. It is not like she liked the guy anyway. Fanny scorns Amy’s lack of self respect. Mrs. Merdle looks down on them. The least they can do is get money out of her. Fanny then goes on to tell her that it is her fault that she is a dancer and looked down upon by the Mrs. Merdles of the world. Amy allows people to insult her family.

Little Dorrit feels these barbs are unfair but forgives her sister when she apologizes. Fanny tells Amy that she knows little of society. She admits that she has gotten proud by moving within it. She thinks about the family honor while Little Dorrit has more domestic concerns.

Charles Dickens