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Summary Chapter 2

 

There is no female at the workhouse that is capable of providing nourishment to the infant Oliver Twist. The parish authorities send Oliver to another workhouse, where he is placed into the custody of an elderly female who takes in orphans for sevenpence halfpenny.

The woman feeds the children very little. Most die from starvation, cold, falling into the fire, or being accidentally smothered. Sometimes these deaths are investigated. However, the woman is never brought up on charges, for the authorities protect themselves by protecting her.

Oliver Twist is pale, sinewy, and small for his age (8 years old now). He is very spirited, though, and that helped him to survive. He and two boys have just been beaten and locked in the coal cellar for being hungry.

Mr. Beadle pays a visit to Mrs. Mann, Oliver’s guardian. Mrs. Mann orders Susan to take the boys upstairs and wash them. Mr. Bumble complains how she kept him waiting. She claims she had bolted the gate to protect the children.

She offers him a gin, saying she keeps it for the children when they are ill. He tells her he will mention how good of a mother she is to the board. Mr. Bumble then states his business for coming here, which is on the account of Oliver Twist. He was half-baptized. Though they offered a reward, they could never learn his parentage. Mr. Bumble was the one that gave him his name. Oliver is too old now to remain with Miss Mann, so Mr. Bumble is bringing him back to the workhouse where he was born.

Miss Mann summons Oliver. Though he is glad to go, he pretends reluctance under Miss Mann’s gesturing threats. He manages to get some food out of it. He is sad to leave his friends behind, and he feels alone in the world.

Mr. Bumble presents Oliver to the board. Oliver is frightened and mumbles his answers to their questions. The board members consider him to be a fool. They’ve brought him there to learn a useful trade. He’ll begin the next day.

The board starves the workers by watering down the gruel. They force the poor people to get divorces. Each boy is allowed one bowl. The boys are starving. One threatens to resort to cannibalism. Oliver is voted to be the one to ask for more food.

The server hits Oliver with the serving spoon and sends for Mr. Bumble. Mr. Bumble goes to the board and tells them that Oliver has asked for seconds. Oliver is locked up. The parish offers him up as an apprentice, offering five pounds to anyone who takes him off their hands. Mr. Limbkins, one of the board members, believes Oliver is doomed to be hung. 

Charles Dickens