Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Barron's Booknotes
Chapter Six: The Shoemaker
Monsieur Defarge greets Dr. Manette, who responds in a faint voice, and gains the old man's permission to let more light into the room. The rays of light reveal a workman with a half-finished shoe on his lap and scraps of leather all around him. He has a raggedly cut white beard, a hollow face, and very bright eyes. His tattered yellow shirt is open at the neck and shows a withered and worn body. He has faded down to a dull parchment color due to inexposure to direct sunlight and air; he sort of blends in to his yellow shirt, making it difficult to distinguish one from another.
Monsieur Defarge informs the old man that he has a visitor. Mr. Lorry approaches Dr. Manette and asks him what his name is. Dr. Manette replies, "One hundred and five, North Tower." Mr. Lorry next asks him if he is a shoemaker by trade. To this the doctor mutters something about learning it there. Mr. Lorry then looks fixedly at the doctor's face and asks whether he remembers him. At this point the Doctor drops his shoe and stares at Mr. Lorry; a faint flicker of recognition seems to cross Dr. Manette's face for an instant.
Lucie Manette has been standing motionless and silent near the bench. When the doctor leans back over his work, he notices her dress and looks up at her, seeing his grown daughter for the first time. He asks Lucie if she is the jailer's daughter. When she replies in the negative, he asks her who she is. Lucie sits down on the bench and touches his arm, causing Dr. Manette to recoil. He then notices her lovely golden curls and starts to play with them. Suddenly he pulls out a scrap of folded rag attached to a black string. Inside are a few strands of long golden hair exactly like Lucie's. Dr. Manette grows confused and thinks that Lucie is his wife, the one who had laid her head on his shoulder when he was imprisoned and left her strands of hair behind for him to treasure. Lucie comforts the old man gently, but does not reveal who she is. She begs him to kiss her and to weep for his desolate past and for any resemblance between her and his wife. They fall to the floor in tears.
After awhile, Lorry and Defarge lift father and daughter from where they lay on the ground. Preparations begin for the return of the trio to London. A passport is obtained and a carriage is located. Through all the activity, Dr. Manette is totally submissive, following directions and eating and drinking whatever is offered to him. His only resistance is when that try to make him leave without his tools; he insists upon taking them and the unfinished shoes with him.
During the night, the threesome makes its way to England. Lucie has thoughts of how she will nurse her father back to health and memory. Mr. Lorry wonders whether the doctor can ever be restored to life.
The highlight of this chapter is the description of the man buried alive for eighteen years. Dressed in pale, tattered clothes, the old man, who is really only forty-five years of age, is exactly like the specter that Mr. Lorry has seen in his dreams. Dr. Manette has a white beard, a withered body, a hollow face, and a pale, parchment-like color. Although his eyes remain bright, he has a vacant stare. As he talks, his speech is quiet and faltering; it is obvious that he has lost his sanity. He can only associate himself with the number of his prison cell, One Hundred and Five, North Tower.
The presence of Lorry and Lucy stirs some vague, but confused, memories for Dr. Manette. When the banker questions him, the doctor shows a slight flicker of recognition. Lucie's golden hair reminds him of his wife, and he takes out a small packet containing several golden strands of her hair, which he had gathered on the day of their parting and treasured for eighteen long years. At first he thinks Lucie is his wife, but then realizes she is too young.
Although Lucie does not tell her father who she is, the reunion of father and daughter is touching and sentimental. The two of them fall to the floor weeping. It is a tearful scene, a reflection of the reader's love for the melodramatic in the Victorian age. Lucie's love and compassion and her noble nature are clearly established in this chapter. She is determined to love and nurse her father back to good health and wholeness. Like most other characters in the novel, Lucie will remain static, changing little from these pleasant first glimpses presented of her.