Chapters 11-13 Summary

After a year, Mr. Dombey decides that Paul is healthy enough to attend school. He informs Mrs. Pipchin, who agrees that children’s education must be forced on them. She suggests Doctor Blimber’s school, which is next to her own. This will give Paul a chance to make the break with Florence, to whom Mr. Dombey feels he has grown too close. Mr. Dombey, Paul, and Mrs. Pipchin deliver Paul to Doctor Blimber, who introduces them to his wife, who takes care of the housekeeping, and daughter Cornelia, who tutors in the “dead” languages and in whose care Paul will be while he is at school there. Doctor Blimber calls for Toots, the school’s head boy who is in charge of all the boys. Mr. Dombey reminds Paul that, at seven years of age, he is close to manhood and so must make an effort to catch up with the education of other boys. Paul promises to do so, but he looks weakly at Mrs. Pipchin.

Paul is taken up to his room, where his roommates are Briggs and Tozer. At mealtime, he is so small that he Toots must lift him up into his chair. No one speaks at the table except Doctor Blimber, who talks about the Romans. One boy named Johnson has coughing and choking fits and so is punished by being required to quote the first chapter of Ephesians in Greek the next morning at breakfast.

After dinner, the boys are let outside, where they walk arm in arm but do not play. Cornelia Blimber tutors Paul in Greek and Latin, but he is overwhelmed. When he visits Florence, who still resides at Mrs. Pipchin’s, she suggests that she buy copies of Paul’s school books and help him by studying them herself. This helps Paul to some extent, but he does not make any friends as he is viewed as odd by the other boys. He looks out the window every evening and watches for Florence, who walks by his window so that they can at least see each other.

In his office, Mr. Dombey is told that there is a need for someone from the company to go to Barbados to work in the offices there. He discusses this with James Carker, his manager, and suggests Walter, who always reminds him negatively of Florence. Mr. Carker also does not like Walter, who has tried to befriend John Carker the Junior, who is the older brother of James Carker. Mr. Dombey and Mr. Carker break the news to Walter, who is shocked at this exile. He approaches Mr. Carker the Junior, with whom he has tried to be friends. Mr. Carker the Junior tells him that he is in disgrace at the firm because he stole money from the business when he was in his early twenties.