A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

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Book the Second, Chapter 16 Summary and Analysis


Monsieur and Madame Defarge return to Saint Antoine. A policeman (“Jacques of the police”) warns them that an English spy is in the neighborhood. It is John Barsad, the “patriot” who lied during his testimony against Charles Darnay. Madame Defarge declares that she will knit his name into the register. Monsieur Defarge confesses to his wife that he fears the Revolution will not come during their lifetime. She responds that the Revolution is like an earthquake because it is “always preparing, though it is not seen or heard.” When it comes, however, it “grinds to pieces everything before it.”

The next day, John Barsad arrives in the wine shop and asks for cognac and water. Madame Defarge complies but appears to warn the other men in the shop by placing a red rose in her hair. The shop empties. John Barsad asks Madame Defarge about her knitting and pretends to sympathize with the peasants. Remembering that the Defarges knew Dr. Manette, he mentions that Lucie Manette is engaged to marry Charles Darnay—the nephew of the late Monsieur the Marquis. The Defarges are stunned, and Barsad leaves. Monsieur Defarge laments that Lucie Manette,...

(The entire section is 372 words.)