What are the echoing footsteps in Book II chapter XXI of A Tale of Two Cities?  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In a metaphoric style, Charles Dickens describes the passage of time in Lucie Manette/Darnay's life, who listens to "the echoing footsteps of years." She becomes a mother, loses a male child and hears the "rustling of an Angel's wings" amidst the other echoes that only rarely repeat the "actual tread" of Sydney Carton, a guest of a few times each year, but one whom little Lucie loves.

Among these echoes are "dreadful" ones, rumbling with menace at the time of little Lucie's sixth birthday. An anxious Mr. Lorry, too, speaks of the mania of the Frenchmen to place their money in the English branch of Tellson's Bank.  These footsteps are those of the French peasants in Saint Antoine who have joined with others; they carry pitchforks, bricks and stones stolen from walls. And, at the "center of this whirlpool of boiling waters" is Defarge's wine-shop. It is the beginning of the French Revolution of 1789 and a note written by the prison in the North Tower is saved.

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A Tale of Two Cities

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