Little Dorrit Part 1, Chapters 9-11 Summary

Charles Dickens

Part 1, Chapters 9-11 Summary

Arthur awakens the next morning in the Marshalsea. He leaves a message for Amy, asking her to meet him at her uncle’s. When she arrives, they go to the Iron Bridge as a place to talk in private. Arthur questions her again about her association with his mother but learns nothing in connection with how she came to Mrs. Clennam’s attention. She does not know if Mr. Clennam had any responsibility for her father being in debtor’s prison.

Although Mr. Dorrit has many creditors, the primary one is Mr. Tite Barnacle of the government's Circumlocution Office. When Arthur expresses interest in finding out how Mr. Dorrit may be released from the Marshalsea, Amy says that she does not think it is possible. She also has doubts of his being able to survive outside of the protection of prison. She is interested in getting her brother released. As Amy and Arthur walk back, they meet Maggy, who is the granddaughter of Amy’s old nurse. Amy explains that Maggy suffered brain damage from a fever at the age of ten and has not progressed any since that age. Maggy addresses Amy as “Little mother” and willingly runs errands for her.

For several days, Arthur tries to see Mr. Tite Barnacle at the Circumlocution Office but is consistently turned away. At last, he is told to see Mr. Barnacle, Junior, who tells him that Mr. Tite Barnacle is at home with the gout. He gives Arthur the address and recommends that he go there. Arthur does so, and Mr. Tite Barnacle tells him that he must apply at the right department.

Arthur returns to the Circumlocution Office and is sent from department to department without success. He is told to keep trying, especially in writing. Thoroughly discouraged, Arthur leaves. He sees Mr. Meagles, who is in the company of Daniel Doyce, an inventor. Mr. Doyce has had a similar experience with the Circumlocution Office, where he was treated as a public offender. Arthur is invited to Doyce’s factory, which is Bleeding Heart Yard.

In Chalons, France, a traveler arrives at the Break of Day Inn. He hears the other residents talking of the murderer Rigaud, who was released from prison in Marseille because of insufficient evidence. The traveler, who is in fact Rigaud himself, asks to be shown to a room, which he will have to share with another person. He is surprised to find that it is his former cellmate, John Baptist Cavalletto. The Italian is terrified at finding himself in the company once again of Rigaud, who tells him to call him Lagnier. Discovering that Cavalletto is going to Paris and then England, Rigaud/Lagnier announces that he is going to Paris and England as well, so they will be traveling companions. In the early hours of the morning, Cavalletto slips away and escapes from Rigaud.