Book 1, Chapter 9 Summary

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Sissy Jupe is struggling in her new situation. Her brain simply does not correspond to an education by facts and figures, and she refuses to let go of the hope that her father will return someday. Mr. M’Choakumchild pounds Sissy with questions she cannot answer, and Mr. Gradgrind expresses his disappointment. Sissy’s spirits drop.

Sissy turns to Louisa for support. She calls herself a “stupid girl” who is always making mistakes, and she laments that she cannot seem to get anything right. She tells some of her “mistakes” to Louisa, revealing that her answers are filled with a solid common sense and sensitivity that Mr. M’Choakumchild refuses to acknowledge. Sissy also relates some of her family history to Louisa, speaking of her parents and their love for each other and for her. She is determined to believe that her father left her for her own good, yet she remembers how he became more and more upset by the failure of his act. She always tried to cheer him by reading stories.

Louisa wants to hear how Sissy’s father left, but Tom selfishly interrupts at this point. Tom wants Louisa’s help in getting Mr. Bounderby to invite him to dinner. Louisa asks Tom to wait and listens to Sissy’s account of her last day with her father. Sissy still waits every day for a letter about him, much to the annoyance of Mr. Gradgrind, who insists that she accept the fact that her father is gone, and of Mrs. Gradgrind, who complains that she never hears the end of anything.

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