Hard Times Book II, Chapters 4-5: Questions and Answers

Charles Dickens

Book II, Chapters 4-5: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What does Dickens find notably lacking in the meeting of the Coketown workers?

2. The man who, in Slackbridge’s speech, “deserts his post, and sells his flag,” refers to whom?

3. A “strong voice” in the meeting hall calls for what?

4. Blackpool makes no complaint about being made into an outcast but asks that he be allowed just one thing. What thing is that?

5. Who during the meeting feels “more sorry than indignant” toward Blackpool?

6. What does Slackbridge, acting like “fugleman” (a drill sergeant) call for as soon as Stephen leaves the meeting hall?

7. What are Mr. Bounderby’s first words to Stephen, and why do they fall “rudely and discordantly” on his ears?

8. About what does Stephen say he is as sorry as Bounderby?

9. How does Stephen manage to most exasperate Bounderby?

10. Why does Stephen object to Bounderby’s talk of imprisoning Slackbridge and other leaders like him?

Answers
1. Dickens points out that the audience betrays no sign of “carelessness, no languor, no idle curiosity.”

2. Slackbridge uses these words to refer to Stephen Blackpool.

3. The strong voice demands that if Blackpool is present he be heard from.

4. Stephen asks that he be allowed to remain working.

5. Most of the audience feels this way toward Stephen.

6. Slackbridge calls for “three cheers” for the union after Stephen leaves the hall.

7. Bounderby’s first words to Stephen are to “speak up”; they fall rudely and discordantly on his ears because they “seemed to assume that he really was the self-interested deserter that he had been called.”

8. Stephen says he is as sorry as Bounderby is when the people’s leaders are bad.

9. Without being conscious of it, Bounderby is particularly exasperated that Stephen addresses all his words to Louisa.

10. Stephen thinks that the trouble does not lie with the leaders and thus will not be removed even if they are.