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David Copperfield

by Charles Dickens

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What was unusual about the name of David Copperfield's house?

Quick answer:

The name of David Copperfield's house was strange because it was called "the Rookery," although there were no rooks near it.

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When Aunt Betsey Trotwood shows up at the Copperfield home, she asks why it is called "the Rookery." David's mother explains that that was what David's father, who is now deceased, named it. She says that there is a large rookery, or communal nesting area, on the grounds of the house but that its nests are old. The rooks, which are birds similar to crows, no longer nest there. In fact, David's mother says she has not seen a rook since she moved in.

Aunt Betsey sees this as typifying a lack of commonsense in her dead nephew, saying,

David Copperfield from head to foot! Calls a house a rookery when there’s not a rook near it, and takes the birds on trust, because he sees the nests!

Having the dead Mr. Copperfield name the house the Rookery helps characterize him as a person as impractical and whimsical as his wife, even though he was twenty years older.

Aunt Betsey also thinks her nephew's young widow is lacking in practical sense, which is true. David's mother is a very young and naive woman, filled with kindness and timidity and unprepared for life—especially life with her second husband, Mr. Murdock, and his sister, who are as hard as she is soft.

The name of the house helps set the tone for the first years of David's life, which are filled with goodness and kindness.

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