In A Tale of Two Cities, what best explains the development of Jerry Cruncher's character?  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The theme of Resurrection best explains the development of the character of Jerry Cruncher.  While for the most part Jerry acts as comic relief for this serious theme, scratching his spiky head when he first hears the phrase "Recalled to Life," and saying that it would not do in his "profession" for people to be brought back to life, he does contribute much to the solving of the mystery of Roger Cly later in Book Three. This is a mystery that helps to implicate John Basard and enable Sydney Carton to coerce him thus into allowing Carton to switch places with Charles Darnay and save Lucie's husband from execution, at the same time redeeming Carton's dissipated life. 

Here is an outline of the development of Jerry Cruncher's character:

  • He works as a runner for Tellson's Bank and is sent to catch up with the Dover Coach and bring Mr. Lorry news that Dr. Manette has been "recalled to life."
  • This phrase conjures different thoughts in the head of Jerry, who ponders his nightime avocation of robbing graves for the study of science.
  • Jerry's wife is greatly disturbed by his sinful actions at night and prays for him. However, he is annoyed by what he calls her "flopping" and throws things at her.
  • One day in London, Jerry "witnesses" the funeral of Roger Cly.
  • Later in the narrative, Jerry accompanies Mr. Lorry to France as the banker assists Lucie and Dr. Manette in their efforts to free Charles from prison where the revolutionaries have incarcerated him for being an Evremonde.
  • In Chapter VIII of Book the Third, Jerry accompanies Miss Pross in her shopping when she recognizes her brother Solomon. However, Jerry remembers him as the spy who witnessed against Darnay in his treason trial of Book the First. When Sydney Carton comes along, he calls out the name, "Barsad." Further, Barsad is connected to the spy for the French, Roger Cly. This information is instrumental in Carton's coercing Solomon to aid him in switching places with Sydney Carton and effecting his escape from France with Lucie and the children.
  • After Carton's sacrifice for Darnay and the love of Lucie, Jerry Cruncher resolves to reform himself and is spiritually "recalled to life" himself.
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A Tale of Two Cities

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