Book 3, Chapter 3 Summary

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Last Updated January 12, 2023.

Mrs. Sparsit has come down with a violent cold, yet she hurries to Mr. Bounderby to tell him the news. With a sneezing Mrs. Sparsit in tow, Mr. Bounderby sets off at once to the Gradgrind home, where he confronts Mr. Gradgrind. Mr. Gradgrind merely says that Mr. Bounderby must have missed his letter. He proceeds to tell his blustering guest that Louisa is at home and that he knows exactly what has happened. She has come to him for protection and is now resting.

For once, Mr. Bounderby is silent. Then he turns on Mrs. Sparsit and rebukes her before putting her into a coach and sending her off, still sneezing.

Mr. Bounderby is still far from happy at the situation, and he does not know quite how to handle Mr. Gradgrind’s admission that he has made a mistake and that they do not truly understand Louisa. Mr. Gradgrind would like to repair the situation, and he suggests that Mr. Bounderby allow Louisa to remain at home for a while so that she can recover with Sissy to help her.

Of course, Mr. Bounderby immediately takes offense. He announces that he will not coddle Louisa. There is an incompatibility between himself and his wife but only because Louisa does not “properly know her husband's merits” or recognize the honor he has given her by marrying her. He could have had other women. Louisa is not a “born lady,” and if she is not back at the estate by noon the next day, she can stay at the Gradgrind home permanently. The next day, when Louisa does not show, Mr. Bounderby has all her possessions sent to her and resumes “a bachelor life.”

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