Our Mutual Friend Part 2, Chapters 1-3 Summary

Charles Dickens

Part 2, Chapters 1-3 Summary

At his new school, Charley Hexam requests permission to visit his sister Lizzie. His schoolmaster, Bradley Headstone, suggests that it would be better to distance himself from his sister as a connection to his unsavory past. When Charley insists, Mr. Headstone declares that he will accompany him. Charley resists, not wanting Mr. Headstone to see Lizzie’s living conditions, as he himself wants to put his past behind him. On the way, they are stopped by Miss Peecher, a teacher at a girls’ school, who is interested in Mr. Headstone. Mr. Headstone is indifferent to her, and he and Charley continue until they come to Lizzie’s lodgings. They are welcomed by Fanny Cleaver (who is called Jenny Wren), a thirteen-year-old girl who has “a bad back and queer legs.” Despite being crippled, she takes care of her drunken father and makes doll clothes. When Lizzie arrives, Charley introduces Mr. Headstone. Talking to Lizzie alone, Charley urges her to find better lodgings, but Lizzie wants to stay close to the river. On the way back to school, Charley sees Eugene Wrayburn walking in the direction of Lizzie’s home. He worries that Wrayburn is going to see his sister.

Eugene Wrayburn is indeed going to see Lizzie. He suggests to her that he come regularly and give her instruction so as to better her conditions. He points out that it would benefit Jenny as well. Jenny hints that it is time for him to leave, since it is Saturday night and her father will be coming home drunk soon. Wrayburn leaves and runs into Cleaver, Jenny’s drunken father. When Cleaver arrives home, Jenny makes him give her all his money to avoid spending all of it on alcohol.

Mr. Veneering decides to campaign for a spot in Parliament. He pays five thousand pounds to run as the member from Pocket-Breaches. Mrs. Veneering gets to work on getting her friends, specifically, Lady Tippins, to help. Mr. Veneering goes to his “oldest friend” Twemlow to ask if his cousin Lord Snigsworth would lend his name to the campaign, but Twemlow refuses, thinking that his relative would not be interested. Mr. Veneering makes the rounds of his other friends and acquires the services of electioneers, but he never meets with any of his constituents. Mrs. Veneering says that she received an omen of Mr. Veneering’s success. She watched her baby fold his hands together and smile in his sleep, which leads Mrs. Veneering to conclude that the fairies are sending the message that the baby’s father will soon be a Member of Parliament.