In A Tale of Two Cities, what type of relationship does Jerry Cruncher have with his wife?

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Jerry Cruncher is verbally and physically abusive to his wife.

Although the "private lodging" of the Crunchers is little more than one room, Mrs. Cruncher keeps a spotless and tidy home as she is "[A] woman of orderly and industrious appearance." However, Jerry always finds fault with her, especially when...

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Jerry Cruncher is verbally and physically abusive to his wife.

Although the "private lodging" of the Crunchers is little more than one room, Mrs. Cruncher keeps a spotless and tidy home as she is "[A] woman of orderly and industrious appearance." However, Jerry always finds fault with her, especially when she prays. "What are you up to, Aggerawayter?" ("Aggravator" pronounced with a Cockney accent) " . . . What do you mean by flopping yourself down and praying agin me?" he asks her when he awakens one morning. (Bk.2, Ch.1)

Jerry is very much against praying. He threatens his wife against such devotionals, declaring that he will not be made "unlucky" by her "sneaking." He adds that if she must pray, she should pray in support of him, rather than against him, indicating his conviction that his wife brings him bad luck by praying in atonement for Jerry's sins. Before Jerry leaves, he again threatens his wife against praying, telling her if his luck does not go right for him this night, he will "work" her for it (beat her) as though he has seen her praying. He also warns her against refusing any meat that he might bring home if he has luck. As they argue, their son "young Jerry" listens. Curious about what it is that his father does at night that causes his clean boots to be covered with mud upon his return, the boy secretly follows his father soon after he goes out the door. Young Jerry watches his father and two other "fishermen" enter a churchyard and head toward the gravestones. Strangely, these fishermen use a spade to "fish." After watching the men, Young Jerry "made off with his hair as stiff as his father's" (Bk.2, Ch.14) on the top of his head as he realizes his father is engaged in grave robbing.

The next morning little Jerry awakens to the usual arguing of his father and mother. Jerry berates his wife for not obeying her wedding vows of "honor[ing] and obey[ing]" her husband, and Mrs. Cruncher is again in tears as Jerry insists that she must obey him. Since she has no sense of duty, Jerry declares, "it must be knocked into you."

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If we look at the first chapter of Book the Second, we can see the almost comic nature of the relationship that Jerry Cruncher enjoys with his wife. It would be comic if it weren't so disturbing in the way that Jerry treats her. He throws his boots at his wife as punishment for the crime of "flopping," which in reality is when she says her prayers, and then insists that she is praying against him when she does pray. No matter how much she tries to plead her innocence against this charge, Jerry has clearly decided that his wife is both antagonistic towards him and towards their son, as the following quote demonstrates. Note how Jerry just will not accept any other version of reality from the one that he believes to be true:

You weren't. And if you were, I won't be took the liberty with. Here! your mother's a nice woman, young Jerry, going a praying agin your father's prosperity. You've got a dutiful mother, you have, my son. You've got a religious mother, you have, my boy: going and flopping herself down, and praying that the bread-and-butter may be snatched out of the mouth of her only child.

He calls her a "conceited female" and turns his son against her as well. Clearly, Jerry believes that his wife is trying to work against him and not with him, and his treatment of her is therefore in accordance with this belief. He sees her as working to oppose him and as a barrier to the goals he is trying to achieve.

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