Book I, Chapters 14-15: Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. Of what aspects of Sissy’s performance in school does Mr. Gradgrind complain?

2. What does Dickens mean when he writes that Gradgrind has become “one of the respected members for ounce weights and measure, one of the deaf honorable gentlemen, dumb honorable gentlemen, blind honorable gentlemen, dead honorable gentlemen, to every other consideration”?

3. When does Louisa give her father the same look as the night she was found peeping at the circus?

4. When Tom says to his sister, “It would do me a great deal of good if you were to make up your mind to I know what, Loo. It would be a splendid thing for me. It would be uncommonly jolly!” what is he alluding to?

5. Why is Gradgrind’s study “quite a blue chamber”?

6. What does Louisa say when her father announces that she has been the subject of a proposal of marriage?

7. Mr. Gradgrind reminds Louisa that much depends on the sense in which a certain expression is used. What is that expression?

8. What is it, in the course of his conversation with his daughter, that Mr. Gradgrind takes satisfaction in knowing?

9. What does Louisa look at for a long time as she considers what to say to her father?

10. What is Louisa’s new attitude to Sissy, from the moment she senses her response to her upcoming marriage?


1. Mr. Gradgrind is “greatly disappointed” by Sissy’s deficiency in acquiring facts and her limited acquaintance with figures.

2. Dickens means that Gradgrind has been elected to Parliament, where he is among those who speak for the interests of the manufacturers.

3. Louisa looks at her father this way when he exclaims, “My dear Louisa, you are a woman!”

4. Tom is alluding to his sister marrying Bounderby.

5. The room is blue because Gradgrind collects the famous series of “blue books,” so called because of their blue covers, issued by the government and containing statistical information on such matters as population, wages, and working condition in factories and mines. The information in the blue books was used by many different observers and critics to advance many different arguments and come to many different conclusions.

6. Louisa keeps silent when she hears this; her father has to repeat what he has said, and even then she makes no reply other than to say she wishes to hear her father state the proposal to her. Her apparent composure momentarily flusters her father.

7. The expression Gradgrind refers to is “love.”

8. Mr. Gradgrind takes satisfaction in knowing that his daughter does not come to the consideration of the question of marriage with any of “the previous habits of mind, and habits of life, that belong to so many young women.”

9. Louisa looks out her father’s study window at the factory chimneys of Coketown.

10. Louisa becomes from that moment proud, cold, and impassive toward Sissy, “changed to her altogether.”

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