Hard Times Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

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Why are three main sections of the novel Hard Times by Charles Dickens entitled "Sowing," "Reaping," and "Garnering"?

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Sowing means planting crops (seeds), reaping is harvesting the full-grown crops, and garnering is picking up the pieces that are left over after the harvest. Sowing and reaping are intimately related to the Bible, closely associated with the Biblical adage that one reaps what one sows.

In part 1, Gradgrind "sows his seeds" by educating his two children, Louisa and Tom, into his materialist, utilitarian philosophy. They are taught to disparage love, sentiment, the arts, and most of all the magic and whimsy of the circus as represented by Sissy Jupe. Gradgrind misguidedly raises his two children to be hard-head, money-oriented, and practical. He plants a bad crop, speaking metaphorically.

In part 2, as the title suggests, Gradgrind and his children reap what they have sown, which is misery. Louisa marries Bounderby, a man thirty years her senior, for money rather than love and, as a result, is easily seduced by a younger man who exploits her vulnerability and does not have her interests at...

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