Miss Pross and Jerry Cruncher must shop in the evening, buying in small quantites at different shops so as not to attract attention, or let people think that they have a lot of money. During the time of the French Revolution, the peasants, who had just overthrown the government which had so long treated them so brutally, wanted to take revenge on anyone whom they perceived to be a member of the aristocracy. In the lawless atmosphere of the times, to do anything which might associate one with the upper classes was to invite imprisonment or death.
When she shopped, Miss Pross used as few words as possible, looking for what she needed on the shelves herself and relying on single words and gestures in her bargaining. This is because she was an Englishwoman, and never learned to speak French very well (Book the Third, Chapter 7).