A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

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Book the Second, Chapter 15 Summary and Analysis

Summary:

The chapter begins in Ernest Defarge’s wine shop in Saint Antoine. The shop is crowded, though most people are too poor to drink any of the wine. Madame Defarge knits quietly, appearing to take little notice of her surroundings. Monsieur Defarge arrives, accompanied by a mender of roads. Defarge instructs his wife to provide their guest (“Jacques”) with wine, as he is “a good child.” Three men depart the wine shop while the mender of roads consumes a crust of bread and some wine.

After finishing his breakfast, the mender of roads follows Monsieur Defarge up to the garret where Dr. Manette used to live in confinement. The three men who left the wine shop earlier are standing outside the door. They are the same men who used to watch Dr. Manette while he made shoes. Monsieur Defarge informs them that the mender of roads is a witness and that he “will tell you all.” We learn that the mender of roads lives in the late Marquis’s village and that he was the man who told the Marquis about a suspicious person hanging by a chain under his carriage. This person was the father of the child who was killed by the Marquis. He took revenge by slaying the Marquis in his bed and disappeared before anyone could catch him. Months later, he was seen being marched by soldiers to the gaol that overlooks the village. He was to be executed for parricide (murdering a close relative). Petitions arose arguing that the man was driven to murder because of the death of his child and thus should be spared. Nevertheless, a gallows was built in the middle of the village, beside the fountain, and the man was hanged. Distressed, the mender of roads describes how the man’s body was left hanging from the gallows, casting a frightful shadow on the town below.

Monsieur Defarge confers with the three Jacques outside the garret. They agree to add “the chateau and all the race” to their registry, which lists the aristocrats they plan to execute when the Revolution begins. We learn that Madame Defarge has been knitting this registry in an elaborate code that the three Jacques fear she will not be able to decipher. Monsieur Defarge assures them that the code “will always be as plain to her as the sun.” Later in the week, Defarge and his wife take the mender of roads to see the...

(The entire section is 597 words.)