Chapters 41-43 Summary
The prison warden gives Mr. Pickwick, accompanied by Sam Weller, a tour of Fleet Prison. Pickwick is appalled by the filthy living conditions of the inmates, mistaking rooms for coal bins. He becomes disheartened when he sees entire families with young children within the prison walls. He retires to his room, which has the rusty bedstead he rented from the warden from the night. He bids Sam find himself room in some inn nearby and return in the morning so that they can decide how best to retrieve Pickwick’s goods from the George and Vulture. After Sam leaves, Pickwick prepares for bed. He puts his nightcap on his head, thankful that he thought of sticking it in his pocket at the last minute. He is awakened a half hour later by some drunken men, two of whom are named Smangle and Mivin. They persuade Pickwick to give them some money to buy liquor and cigars. Pickwick finally returns to bed, trying to ignore the talking of his roommates.
The next morning, Pickwick finds Roker, the warden, and inquires about a permanent room. Roker takes him to a cell where there are three other inmates, one of whom is a drunken clergyman. Pickwick finds this situation totally unacceptable and talks to Roker about the possibility of another place. Roker tells him that one of the current residents has a room he might rent to someone. Pickwick finds the room acceptable and arranges to rent some furnishings. He asks Roker about the possibility of arranging to have someone with access to the outside run errands for him. Roker tells him there are some available people in the poor section of Fleet Prison. Pickwick offers to go himself, wanting to see this part of his new home. He finds that it is indeed inhabited by the very poorest and is shocked to discover that Alfred Jingle and Job Trotter are incarcerated here. Touched at the low depths to which his former nemesis has sunk, he slips them some money and returns to his room to find Sam there. He informs his servant that he is releasing him for the time being. Sam objects to this, but when Pickwick insists, he rushes from the room.
Sam consults his father as to how he may help Mr. Pickwick. Mr. Weller has no ideas, but Sam comes up with a plan. He borrows twenty-five pounds from his father and then has Mr. Weller demand repayment. When Sam refuses, Mr. Weller (at Sam’s suggestion) hires his friend Solomon Pell, an unscrupulous lawyer, to bring charges against Sam. He is found guilty and delivered to Fleet Prison. Pickwick is confused and surprised that Sam, whom he had dismissed the day before, is now a fellow inmate at the prison.