Book 2, Chapter 4 Summary

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The Hands have gathered in the crowded, suffocating Hall to listen to an orator declaim on brotherhood and resistance and the “united power” of the workers against their oppressors. The crowd greets his message with cheers, yet the orator, whose name is Slackbridge, is not really one of them. Still, he speaks well and makes the crowd feel the emotions and think the ideas he desires even as he sweats profusely and wipes his forehead meticulously. He knows how to get the people to respond.

Yet there is one man whom Slackbridge labels a traitor, who refuses to unite with the other workers. It is Stephen Blackpool, and he now takes the stage to speak to the crowd. All he wants to do is tell the truth, but Slackbridge keeps interrupting him with scorn. Stephen admits that the orator speaks better than he does, for that is his trade, yet he will not change his position. He accepts their exile and leaves the Hall condemned.

Stephen is hereafter shunned by the Hands. For four days, he is all alone at work, in the streets, and everywhere. Bitzer then comes to him with a message that Mr. Bounderby wants to see him. Stephen goes at once.

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