Summary Chapter 2
Many years later, London is a great city. Tom Canty lives in a particularly dirty section near the London Bridge known as Offal Court. It houses some of the poorest residents.
Tom’s family lived on the third floor in a one-room apartment. His father John is a thief. He has two 15 year old twin sisters who are good-natured and ignorant. His father and grandmother are alcoholics, foul-mouthed, and verbally and physically abusive. The grandmother is a beggar. The children are beggars but never became thieves due to the influence of Father Andrew, a former priest who was kicked out of his house by the king.
Father Andrew teaches the children morals. He teaches Tom a little Latin and how to read and write. He was willing to teach the girls, but they were afraid to learn because it would earn them ridicule from their peers.
Brawls, drunks, head injuries, and hunger were common in Offal Court. Tom is not unhappy. His life is hard, but he knows nothing else. Everyone is in the same circumstances, so Tom views it as a normal. If he came home empty-handed, his father and grandmother cursed and beat him. His mother would sneak him food, usually sacrificing her own rations. If she was caught doing this, she got beaten by her husband.
Tom only begs enough to stay out of trouble with his father and grandmother. He doesn’t do more than that because the law is equally harsh. In his free time, he listens to Father Andrew’s tales of British mythology. He finds sanctuary in imagining a life as a prince. He longs to see a real prince, which causes others to jeer at him.
He reads the priests’ books. He begins to feel unhappy about his rags and being unclean. He still enjoys playing the dirty games of his comrades, but he also enjoys bathing in the Thames more.
There is always entertainment to be found in London, even for the poor. Tom starts acting like a prince in manner and speech, which amuses everyone. However, the young people begin to respect him. The older adults, save his family, become impressed by his knowledge and come to him for solutions to their problems.
Tom organized his own court, where ceremonies are performed. Matters were discussed, and Tom issued decrees.
Tom’s glorious dreams of being a prince eventually makes his reality more despicable.