In chapter 2 in A Tale of Two Cities in the following quotation what are the advantages of this type of narration for the author?"jerry left alone in the mist and darkness,dismounted meanwhile,not...

In chapter 2 in A Tale of Two Cities in the following quotation what are the advantages of this type of narration for the author?

"jerry left alone in the mist and darkness,dismounted meanwhile,not only to ease his spent horse,but to wipe the mud from his face"

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This passage from Chapter 2 of Book the First of A Tale of Two Cities, underscores the suggestion of mystery conveyed in Jerry Cruncher's urgent message to Mr. Lorry: "Recalled to Life."  For, not only is Mr. Lorry perplexed by this message, but so is Jerry.  His dismounting to rest his horse and wipe mud from his face in the "mist and darkness" suggests that Jerry wishes to disguise himself for a time.

While the reader does not know why Jerry hides in the mist, there is, nevertheless, foreshadowing of something dark to come.  For, highwaymen abounded in the time period of the novel, and it is dangerous to pause on a dark country lane.  Also, the mud on Jerry's face suggests there may be other reasons why Jerry Cruncher has mud on him (later on it is on his boots).

writergal06 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this quotation, the narrator is developing the character of Jerry Cruncher through indirect characterization. The fact that he is dismounting to wipe the mud from his face and not to rest his horse tells the audience about his values and priorities. In the dark mist, where he is alone, he still cares more about his physical appearance and upkeep than he does the horse that is caring him from place to place. This shows that Jerry is largely just concerned with himself, not others, which is also seen in his chosen profession and defence of it (he robs graves and gives the bodies to medical students for money).

lit24 | Student

Jerry Cruncher is the porter at Tellson's Bank, London. In Ch.2 he is dispatched with an urgent message to be delivered to Mr. Jarvis Lorry who is on his way to Paris on the coach-The Dover Mail-and to take Mr.Jarvis Lorry's reply back to the bank.

It's 11.10 on a dark, damp foggy night when Jerry Cruncher catches up with The Dover Mail at Shooter's Hill. He completes his mission successfully and receives Mr.Jarvis Lorry's cryptic reply, "Recalled to life" to be conveyed to the people at Tellson's Bank.

After he sees The Dover Mail trundle down Shooter's Hill on its way to Dover, Jerry Cruncher takes a breather. He has been travelling at break neck speed to catch up with The Dover Mail and he is covered with mud from top to toe and the brim of his hat is full of water:

The rider's horse was blown, and both horse and rider were covered with mud, from the hoofs of the horse to the hat of the man.

He refreshes himself as any normal person would who is covered with mud by wiping off the mud on his face and shaking out the water from the brim of his hat before he returns to London.

What the reader has to take note of is Dickens' eye for the minute details when describing  even the minor characters. The fact that Jerry Cruncher has been riding so fast to somehow accomplish his mission in such awful weather conditions tells us how duty conscious he is. He could have paused on his way from London to wipe the mud off his face, but he knew that that would entail a loss of precious seconds which would result in not being able to convey the letter to Mr. Jarvis Lorry. So, the fact that Jerry Cruncher wipes the mud off his face ONLY AFTER he has accomplished his mission and not a moment before clearly testifies to his sincerity in accomplishing his mission.

It is attention to minute details like these even in the case of minor characters that testifies to Dickens' talent and genius.

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A Tale of Two Cities

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