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Free Study Guide-A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens-Free BookNotes
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BOOK TWO: The Golden Thread

Chapter One: Five Years Later

Summary

Tellson's Bank is situated by Temple Bar. It is an old-fashioned, small, ugly, and somewhat decrepit building. Appropriately, all the employees that are seen in the bank are old men; and they are very conservative. Tellson's Bank is a strong supporter of the death penalty and has caused the death of many offenders

Jerry Cruncher, the messenger seen previously in Chapter 2, is an odd-job man at the bank. He is usually found working outside the old building during business hours, unless he is out on a bank errand. He is helped by his son, young Jerry, who is simply a smaller version of his father. In this chapter, Jerry Cruncher is at home lying in bed. He is angry with his wife and throws the boot at her saying that her prayers are like curses against him and his son. After grumbling a bit he gets up, polishes his boots, readies himself, and sets out to work with young Jerry. He has been called to the bank by one of its messengers.

Notes

Five years have passed since the close of Book One. The first description of the Second Book is Tellson's Bank, which is pictured in great detail and in images similar to the great Bastille prison, almost as a parody. Both are strongholds that hold many dark secrets, promote death, and bury people alive.


The image of Death is never far from Dickens' mind in this novel. It is important to note that the bank is a strong supporter of the death penalty and that it stands next to the Temple Bar, the building where criminals are tried. It is also appropriate that the old- fashioned bank, peopled by only old men, is in a decrepit state of ruin. This description is a clear image of the decaying aristocracy in both England and France.

Jerry Cruncher, the messenger from an earlier chapter, is still working at the bank as the handyman. In this chapter, he has just been called from bed to come to the bank. It obviously has not put him in a good mood, for he argues with his wife, complaining loudly about her prayers and throwing a boot at her. Although there was probably some comic intent in this domestic scene, it has lost some of its humor through the ages. But his tendency towards violence, as seen in this chapter, will have some significance later in the novel.

It is important to notice how the novel is divided into books and then further divided into chapters.

The reason for this structure was because Dickens originally published it in a magazine in serialized form. In light of this, it is amazing to see how he is able to present an accurate and "whole" picture of many of his characters, like Lucie and Cruncher, early in the novel, when the latter part had not yet been completed.

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