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 44

A few days have passed since Sam Weller has been incarcerated in Fleet Prison. One morning, he is enjoying a beer and reading the papers in the prison’s open air when he is summoned to the hall by his fellow inmates.

The one summoning is Sam’s father Mr. Weller senior. Exchanging greetings with his son, Mr. Weller informs Sam that he has come with Mrs. Weller and Mr. Stiggins, the deputy shepherd, who are determined to lecture Sam on the error of his ways and to point him to the righteous path. To Sam's concern, Mr. Weller finds Mrs. Weller’s and Mr. Stiggin’s intention so hypocritically funny that he laughs to the point of bursting a blood vessel.

By and by, Sam greets the altruists and assures his mother-in-law that he is doing well, contrary to her observation. When Mr. Stiggins doesn’t respond to his greeting, Sam orders some wine which acts like an elixir, animating Mr. Stiggins. Presently, to Mr. Weller’s disgust, Mr. Stiggins, who is in a state of near drunken stupor, delivers a lecture on vice, sin, and hypocrisy. As for Mrs. Weller, though at first reluctant to drink, like Mr. Stiggins, she quaffs her wine with gusto before complaining about Mr. Weller and his proclivity to make fun of her pious ways. To humor his mother-in-law, Sam castigates his father.

By and by, Sam parts with his visitors at the prison gates. But before they do, Mr. Weller informs Sam of a plot to have Mr. Pickwick removed from prison, and asks his son to relate the plot to Mr. Pickwick for approval. Just as Sam parts with his visitors, he meets Mr. Pickwick who tells Sam about some mutual friends that they will presently meet. Sam can’t imagine who they could be. Indeed, even as Sam beholds Alfred Jingle and Job Trotter, Sam can’t believe his eyes. Presently, as Mr. Pickwick has a word with Mr. Jingle, Sam comes to his senses when Job Trotter greets him by name.

Sam is eager to censure Job Trotter as the latter weeps on account of his present circumstances. But the latter’s tears are genuine and Sam restrains himself. Indeed, to lift up Mr. Totter’s spirits Sam treats him to some wine. During the course of treating Job to wine, Sam learns that Mr. Pickwick has been providing food and better lodgings for Alfred Jingle and Job Trotter. When Mr. Trotter affirms his debt of gratitude to Mr. Pickwick, and avows that he would serve Mr. Pickwick to his—Job Trotter’s—dying days if Mr. Pickwick would allow it, Sam angrily makes it clear that he and only he has the privilege of serving Mr. Pickwick.

Presently, having parted with Alfred Jingle, Mr. Pickwick indulges Job Trotter who leads him and Sam to a secret lair where the turnkeys operate an under-the-radar liquor business, before wandering the grounds of the prison yards. The sight is so depressing—everywhere there is “the same squalor, the same turmoil and noise”—that Mr. Pickwick determines to confine himself to his room and only wander out at nights when the denizens of the prison are absent.

Three months have passed and the prison’s influence has adversely affected Mr. Pickwick’s physical and spiritual health. Still, despite Mr. Perker’s and his friends’ adjurations, Mr. Pickwick is resolved not to give in to Mrs. Bardell and Dodson & Fogg.

Charles Dickens