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David Copperfield

by Charles Dickens

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Why is David sent to Salem House?

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David Copperfield, originally titled The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (Which He Never Meant to Publish on Any Account), by Charles Dickens, was first published as a serial from May, 1849 through November, 1850, then published as a book in 1850.

The story is told in the first person, from David Copperfield's point of view, and recounts his life from childhood through relative middle age.

David recounts in Chapter 4, "I Fall Into Disgrace," that when he's about six years old, his mother is courted by, and later marries, Mr. Murdstone. Once married to Mrs. Copperfield, Mr. Murdstone takes advantage of the situation to move into the Copperfield home and moves in his sister, Jane, along with him.

Mr. Murdstone and his sister verbally and physically abuse young David, and during one particularly vicious whipping by Mr. Murdstone, David bites Mr. Murdstone's hand.

He had my head as in a vice, but I twined round him somehow, and stopped him for a moment, entreating him not to beat me. It was only a moment that I stopped him, for he cut me heavily an instant afterwards, and in the same instant I caught the hand with which he held me in my mouth, between my teeth, and bit it through.

Mr. Murdstone uses this instance of David biting his hand as an excuse to send David away to the boarding school called Salem House.

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