Chapters 53-54 Summary
Ruth and John begin by talking about Martin and Mary’s marriage to come, but John can wait no longer. He professes his love to Ruth and asks her to marry him. Ruth agrees wholeheartedly but says that she cannot leave her brother Tom alone. John states that he cannot leave him either and proposes that they live out in the country, where he can pursue his architectural career with Tom as his assistant. The three of them will live together, which pleases Ruth. Tom returns with Mr. Chuzzlewit. Ruth had wanted to break the news to Tom while they were alone, but she cannot wait. He is overjoyed, and Mr. Chuzzlewit is not surprised. In fact, he had anticipated this and so had asked Tom to go with him to leave the couple alone. He reveals that he has bought two necklaces as gifts, one for Mary and one for Ruth. He says he feels that he is the father of two daughters and cannot do enough for them. A banquet is thrown in honor of Tom, who has done so much to bring everyone together without any concern for himself. He stands in stark contrast to the selfishness of everyone else. After the banquet, Ruth, John, and Tom walk home, and Tom pretends to go upstairs for a book but stays in his room. John soon comes looking for him, begging him not to feel that he has to separate himself.
The morning arrives of Charity’s wedding to Augustus Moddle. She has invited her family (except for her father—whom she will never forgive—and her sister) and has asked her three cousins to be her bridesmaids. She does so out of revenge, although she convinces herself it is out of family forgiveness. She sees Jonas’s death as a judgment on the family for their dissension. Mr. Chuzzlewit arrives to see Mercy, who is living with Mrs. Todgers, as is Chuffey. He asks her for her forgiveness for speaking so harshly to her before her marriage, but she says that he has been proved right. He invites her to come away with him now to avoid Charity’s wedding. She agrees, and they go off in a carriage before the guests arrive. As Charity comes down for the ceremony, it appears that Mr. Moddle is missing. The postman arrives with a letter from Mr. Moddle, stating that he has left the country, being in love with someone else who loves someone else. Charity faints at this news.
Tom grows old but still enjoys playing the organ. He is chosen by John and Mary’s daughter as her “nurse,” and continues to be the good, loyal, and selfless friend that he has always been.