Hard Times Book II, Chapter 9: Questions and Answers

Charles Dickens

Book II, Chapter 9: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is Mrs. Sparsit always smoothing?

2. “Serve you right, you Noodle, and I am glad of it” is said by what character, and what does it mean?

3. The train to and from Bounderby’s country retreat passes over what kind of countryside?

4. Why does Dickens speak of Bitzer as a “fit servitor” at death’s door?

5. What “idol” has presided grimly over Louisa’s childhood?

6. Where is Mr. Gradgrind while his wife lies dying?

7. To whom has Louisa “never softened” since leaving home?

8. With what kind of feeling does Louisa go to see her mother?

9. With what “strange speech” does Mrs. Gradgrind answer her daughter’s question as to whether she is in pain?

10. About what does Louisa experience a “rising feeling of resentment” as she stands by her mother’s deathbed?

Answers
1. Mrs. Sparsit is always smoothing her mittens.

2. Mrs. Sparsit says this, addressing Mr. Bounderby’s portrait; she means, presumably, that the imminent collapse of his marriage will serve him right.

3. The train passes over a “wild country of past and present coal-pits.”

4. The extreme pallor of Bitzer’s skin is here associated with death.

5. The idol of Reason has dominated Louisa’s childhood.

6. Mr. Gradgrind is “hard at it in the national dust-yard,” i.e., he is away attending sessions of Parliament.

7. Louisa has never softened to Sissy since leaving home.

8. Louisa goes to see her mother with “a heavy, hardened kind of sorrow upon her.”

9. Mrs. Gradgrind answers that “I think there’s a pain somewhere in the room…but I couldn’t positively say that I have got it.”

10. Louisa resents the influence of Sissy on her younger sister.