Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tale of Two Cities Update #2

(This is a part of the Tale of Two Cities  readalong that is hosted by An Armchair by the Sea!)

So I finished Book II on Thursday and decided not to read ahead this time... (I actually started on Emma, but I'm trying to not let the two books get confused in my head. So far, it's working!)

Book II was definitely more full of action than Book I, and the way this is going, it seems that Book III will be the most exciting.

What surprised me the most (and it really shouldn't have, considering the way things were going) is that no true Hero manifested himself. Darnay - whom I expected to take this position - is definitely Heroic, but there are so many deep, well-formed Characters that somehow a Main Character is really difficult to name.
As I said, I really should have realized this. Dickens creates such utterly stupendous characters that each have their own story, and Tale of Two Cities is less of one long story as is is five or six smaller ones. Really, it's more like a history than a fictional novel. (But a really interesting history.) No one Main Character is a little awkward for me, but it's not too bad. I just think of every character as a Main Character - because, really, they are all well enough developed to be.

The stuff going on in London generally seems to make more sense to me than the stuff in Paris.
My biggest questions:
1. All the Jacques confuse me. Why the heck is everyone named Jacques? Is it just a symbol for The Revolutionary? (I suppose this sort of clears up the mysterious Jacques who murdered the Marquis. It was one of the revolutionaries, I guess...)

2. Also, who is Monseigneur? Is it a real person? Or is it just a personification of the spirit of the anti-revolution monarchy?

I really feel like looking these up on Sparknotes or something - but I'm going to save that for when I finish the book. If I still don't have an answer.

I'm also interested in the echoes of footsteps that Lucie hears. It seems to be a reference to her past life - France - and the footsteps are the footsteps of mobs of revolutionaries.

My final thought at the end of Book II was: "Oh Darnay, please, don't do anything stupid. Above all, don't get yourself killed!"

Oh, and regarding my question last time ("What's up with Jerry Cruncher?"). Well, now we know! He's a "resurrection man" - digging up dead bodies (and doing something - very profitable, clearly - with them).

Until next week - and the final update!



  1. In addition to trying to hide their identities, is the fact that everyone is named Jacques a representation of the new France? The old ruling class is being abolished and they are now all citizens and brothers, and therefore all equal with no differences between them. Liberté, Fraternité, Egalitié ……

    You are making me want to read this book again! ;-)

    1. Hm... good point. That makes a lot of sense.

      (And you SHOULD read it again! :-) )

    2. With all the challenges and read-alongs going on, I WISH I could just sit and read all day and join all of them. Sadly, life gets in the way and snatchs all the valuable time. Oh, well. I have about 10 days over Christmas where I can read, read, read, so I shouldn't complain …..

    3. Ah yes... I completely understand and fully empathize...

  2. Oh, I just typed out answers to your questions on Jacques and Monseigneur, but then I read further and see they are rhetorical questions you don't want answered yet. I hope you're liking the book. :-)

    1. Haha - I wouldn't have minded if you had answered them anyway. Come back next Sunday and you can answer them if I haven't myself. :-)

      And yes, I am very much liking the book. I read a lot yesterday, and am now over 80% through! It's wayyy shorter than I thought it was. (I'm reading it on my Kindle, so I can't really gauge the length as well as I can with a physical book.)

  3. I had the same questions you did.

    Why was everyone named Jacques? But it makes sense what Cleo says. Everyone was named "Citizen," and no one had their own identity.

    However, it was Gabelle (whose son was run over by the Marquis) who murdered the Marquis b/c he ended up being captured and hung for that crime. Madame Defarge said it was "the price of his luxury..."

    And I figured all of the echoes in Lucie's life were of the past - but I feel like there is more to it. Why does Dickens bring it up NOW? But I have discovered nothing, yet.

    1. Oh... I don't think Gabelle was hung though... he's the guy who wrote the letter to Darnay, right? He was set free after Darnay's first trial, I thought....

    2. I just came back to correct myself. Gaspard! It was Gaspard whose son was run over by Marquis; and he was captured and hung for murdering the Marquis in his home. I got the G's mixed up.

      Yes, you are correct about Gabelle.


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