Chapter 6: “Quite at Home” AKA The never ending night…
Summary: They arrive at Bleak House and meet Jarndyce, who would likely run away if they tried to thank him. Then they meet a “child-like” man who lives there, taking Jarndyce’s charity. Mr. Skimpole finds gratitude vulgar but completely relies on others to take care of him because he has no concept of time or money. He asks Esther and Richard to give him some money so he’s not sent to prison, and Jarndyce tells them not to do that again (in a gentle way).
Reaction: I don’t like Mr. Skimpole. I don’t care how great an artist he is or a musician or apparently attractive. He’s annoying, and he keeps everyone up past their bedtime, and that is mean.
Prediction: I’m officially adding a “Lesson of the Chapter” section to these posts, because each new character has some kind of implicit lesson to teach us. None of the characters are that realistic, except maybe the three wards (well, two out of three of them, because that little one, Ada, is too sweet and perfect to be real), and I’m sure we’ll meet someone in the next chapter who has more to teach.
Why This Book Is a Classic: Only in a classic, I think, can an evening slow down to such a crawl. I thought it was bedtime when they got to the house, but after pages and pages and pages the night was still going on. I suppose this could happen in any book, actually, but I hope it doesn’t, and only a classic can probably get away with it somewhat successfully.
Our Lesson: Not showing proper gratitude makes you look like a child, and not being able to accept gratitude makes you look like a creepy old man who is entirely too concerned about which way the wind is blowing.