Part 1, Chapters 12-14 Summary

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 515

Arthur Clennam goes to Bleeding Heart Yard to search for Mr. Plornish, who he learned was responsible for Amy Dorrit’s employment with his mother. He finds the Plornish family in poverty, despite their efforts to rise above it, as with most of the inhabitants of the Yard.

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Plornish explains that Amy, along with her sister Fanny, did not want their father to know that they were working outside of the prison. Amy had asked Plornish if she might give his address in her notice desiring work. Plornish gives one of the notices to Mr. Casby, who is the landlord of the Yard. Arthur notes that he knew Mr. Casby a long time ago. It is from Mr. Casby that Mrs. Clennam learned about Amy and thus hired her as a seamstress.

Arthur asks Plornish to help him get Tip Dorrit released from his debt. They go to the horse dealer who held Tip’s debt and pay him ten shillings on the pound. Arthur instructs Plornish to tell the Dorrits that an unknown friend gave the money but to keep his identity a secret.

Arthur decides to visit Mr. Casby, who is the father of Arthur’s former love, Flora. Mrs. Clennam did not approve of Flora and so separated them. Feeling that his life has no direction at present, Arthur thinks of the past that might be redeemed. He is surprised to see that Flora is now overweight and silly. His passion shatters at the sight of her. Flora married a Mr. Flinching, who died shortly after their marriage. Flora explains that her husband left her a legacy, his old aunt.

Arthur stays for dinner, feeling that this is the least that he could do since he has no intention of renewing his relationship with the widowed Flora, although she makes clear that she is still interested in him. Pancks, Mr. Casby’s rent collector, walks home with Arthur afterwards. Not wanting to return to his mother’s home, Arthur rents lodgings, where he now return to sit and reflect on his life, asking himself what good has ever come to him. Almost in response, there is a knock at the door, and he opens it to find Amy Dorrit.

Amy, accompanied by Maggy, explains that she went to the theater to see her sister and saw Arthur’s light on the way home. As Maggy sleeps, Amy tells Arthur that her brother has been released due to the goodness of a kind stranger. Amy says that, if she knew who the stranger was, she would make sure he knew how grateful she is for his kindness. She asks Arthur a favor—that he would not give her father any more money, no matter how much he hints. She wants Arthur to know her father as she sees him, not as a beggar. Arthur agrees and follows Amy and Maggy unseen back to Marshalsea. He leaves and does not know that they are locked out. They wander the streets of London all night, returning to the prison in the first hours of daylight.

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Part 1, Chapters 15-18 Summary