Chapters 1-3 Summary

The Chuzzlewit family is of a distinguished and noble heritage, descended directly from Adam and Eve. Like the First Parents, there may have been “murderers and vagabonds” among its descendants, but for the most part, the Chuzzlewits have been illustrious and involved in many aspects of English history. It is said that one Chuzzlewit ancestor was involved in Fawkes’ plot to blow up Parliament. It may even be that Fawkes himself was a Chuzzlewit, since there was one female ancestor who was known as “the Match Maker” for her tendency to start fires. All in all, the Chuzzlewits, though not possessing vast landed estates and titles, have long been one of the finest families in England.

On a windy autumn day, Seth Pecksniff, architect and land surveyor, returns to his home only to be knocked on his back by his front door, slammed in his face by the wind. His younger daughter, Mercy, helps him inside. She and her sister Charity (who retains the habits and personality of a girl) listen to their father expound on morality. Tom Pinch, Pecksniff’s loyal assistant, enters and says that John Westlock, a departing student of Pecksniff’s, would like to say good-bye and hopefully make peace, as there had been some conflict between the two. Pecksniff chastises Pinch for this, but Westlock enters anyway. He asks for forgiveness and to shake hands. Pecksniff says that of course he forgives Westlock but will not shake his hand. Irate, Westlock leaves. He and Pinch have been good friends, but they disagree about the worthiness of Pecksniff. Westlock views him as a moral hypocrite, concerned only with himself and his interests, while Pinch believes in his inner goodness. Westlock leaves for London.

A carriage pulls up to the Blue Dragon Inn in the same village. Out comes Martin Chuzzlewit, who is ill, followed by a young woman, Mary Graham. Mrs. Lupin, the landlady of the Blue Dragon, assists the elder Mr. Chuzzlewit to a...

(The entire section is 566 words.)