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Summary Chapter 32

It is the morning of the 13th of February, the day before Mr. Pickwick’s case is to go to trial, when a saucy boy walks in to the George and Vulture and delivers a message for Sam. It’s a message from his father asking Sam to be at the Blue Boar, Leadenhall Market. Subsequently, Sam obtains Mr. Pickwick’s permission and heads for the Blue Boar, Leadenhall Market. En route, a representation of a Valentine’s heart in a stationer’s display window compels Sam to go in and buy paper and pen. By and by, Sam arrives at the Blue Boar, and having ascertained that his father isn’t there yet, he makes himself comfortable at a table and begins to compose a letter.

Sam is busy composing his letter when Mr. Weller enters the Blue Boar and greets his son. Sam asks about his mother-in-law, and Mr. Weller replies that she is crosser than ever. Then Mr. Weller asks Sam about his letter and is shocked and disappointed to hear that it’s addressed to a woman. Sam assures his father that he is not getting married, as his father fears, and presently reads the letter out loud.

Sam’s letter is a Valentine’s Day letter to Mary, and as he reads it aloud, his father approves of its quality by and large, i.e. until Sam insists on ending the letter with a poetic couplet. (Mr. Weller believes poetry is pretentious.) Nonetheless, Sam retains the couplet.

Presently, Mr. Weller offers to help Mr. Pickwick at his trial by employing some friends of his to serve as witnesses on behalf of Mr. Pickwick’s character and reputation. Then Mr. Weller speaks of that which is the principal reason for summoning his son.

Afflicted with rheumatism, Mr. Weller’s wife, a delegate of the Dorking Branch of the United Grand Junction Ebenezer Temperance Association, is unable to attend the meeting of the Brick Lane Branch of the temperance association. As for Mr. Stiggins, the deputy shepherd and Mr. Weller’s wife’s fellow good-doer, he won’t attend the Brick Lane Branch meeting so long as Mr. Weller’s wife isn’t there to make him attend (as he would rather spend his time drinking). Thus, Mr. Weller suggests that he and his son attend and thereby be witness to Mr. Stiggins’ undoing as some of Mr. Weller’s friends will make sure that Mr. Stiggins, who will indubitably be drunk, be in attendance.

Subsequently, Mr. Weller and Sam attend the Brick Lane Branch meeting of teetotalers, whose appetite for tea astounds Sam. By and by, Mr. Anthony Hum, the president of the Brick Lane Branch delivers a speech, describing the achievements of former alcoholics who have reformed to live better lives. He then engages the assembly in a song at the conclusion of which he introduces Mr. Stiggins, who is, on account of his association with Mr. Weller’s wife, a delegate of the Dorking Branch. Mr. Stiggins entrance is delayed, but by and by he enters the meeting, and as Mr. Weller predicted, he is in a state of drunken stupor. Mr. Stiggins proceeds to accuse Brother Tadger, Mr. Hum’s assistant, of being drunk and beats him. Members of Brick Lane Branch come to Brother Tadger’s aid, and in the ensuing chaos, Mr. Weller decides to give Mr. Stiggins a much deserved beating only to be restrained by his son who manages to drag Mr. Weller out of the meeting and out of trouble.

Charles Dickens