What is the hook at the end of chapter 2 ("The Mail") in A Tale of Two Cities?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Having already created much mystery with the cloaked passengers, who eye each other suspiciously on the Dover Mail carriage, Dickens furthers the atmosphere of mistrust and fear of highwaymen with the approach of a rider on a horse,

The panting of the horses communicated a tremulous motion to the coach, as if it were in a state of agitation.

The sound of a horse at a gallop came fast and furiously up the hill... "Yo there! Stand! I shall fire!" the guard sang out....

The rider asks for the passenger, Mr. Jarvis Lorry, who acknowledges the rider and reads a message under the lamplight of the coach, first to himself, and then aloud. Afterwards, he tells Jerry, "say that my answer is RECALLED TO LIFE."

As Jerry, the messenger, dismounts and stands as the carriage departs and lets his horse rest. While doing so, he ponders the message he is to return with,

"'Recalled to life.' That's a Blazing strange message.  Much of that wouldn't do for you Jerry!...You'd be in a Blazing bad way, if recalling to life was to come into fashion, Jerry!"

This last passage is the "hook" of the chapter, creating suspense in the reader, who wonders, "What does the message mean? Why is Jerry worried about someone coming back to life? How can someone come back to life, anyway?"

In order to learn the answers to these questions, the reader must continue reading.

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A Tale of Two Cities

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