Book 1, Chapter 16 Summary

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Last Updated January 12, 2023.

Mr. Bounderby worries about how to tell Mrs. Sparsit of his upcoming marriage. He does not know if she will become horribly upset and leave his house at once. He buys some smelling salts in case she decides to faint and then tells her that he means to marry Louisa Gradgrind. Mrs. Sparsit’s reaction surprises him, for she merely wishes him happiness. Mr. Bounderby invites Mrs. Sparsit to move into a comfortable apartment at the Bank and become its keeper on an “annual compliment,” or stipend. Mrs. Sparsit accepts. She has decided that she will adopt an attitude of pity toward Mr. Bounderby and treat him as a victim with regard to his marriage.

Eight weeks later, Mr. Bounderby marries Louisa Gradgrind in a matter-of-fact ceremony without sentiment or romance. At the wedding breakfast, Mr. Bounderby makes a speech about how far he has risen in life. Before the couple departs on their wedding trip, Louisa clings to Tom, who calls her a “first-rate sister.” Then Louisa recovers her composure and leaves with her new husband.

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