Bleak House: “Sharpshooters”

Chapter 26: “Sharpshooters”

Summary: Mr. George starts his day at his shooting gallery. Then Mr. Smallweed comes to visit. Richard and his debt are mentioned (recently paid off by “friends”–Jarndyce). Then the point of the visit: Smallweed wants Mr. George to come with him to a lawyer with a sample of some Captain Hawdon’s handwriting. It seems Hawdon owes them money and has been assumed dead, but might not be anymore.

Reaction: First, an interesting (to me) side note. Earlier, when I finished chapter 25 I switched immediately to War and Peace and read the chapter where Rostov kind of almost dies and is saved at the end by Russian sharpshooters. I remember thinking after reading that, “Oh, well that’s why the chapter was called “Sharpshooters.” Except War and Peace doesn’t have chapter titles–it was this chapter that I’d glanced at before switching books. It’s funny how things run together like that and end up relating. And it’s funny that that chapter had more relevance to the title than the actual chapter it went with. That’s actually all the reaction I’ve got. This was like a chapter setting up things that will happen, but nothing actually happened in this one, though it would have been entertaining if Phil would have carried Smallweed to a volcano and dropped him in instead of just to the coach. I love the random images and descriptions Dickens comes up with.

Prediction: I’m guessing that this lawyer will be Tulkinghorn. Hopefully whatever this chapter is preparing us for will be as fun to read as the last couple chapters were.

Why This Book Is a Classic: Dickens definitely seems to have a feel for the necessary ebb and flow of a plot. We have a couple chapters of good action, and a couple slower ones, but just as I’m about to need a break from the book it picks up again and gets interesting.

Our Lesson: Don’t be anywhere near a volcano if you need Phil to carry you around in a chair. And don’t make Mr. Smallweed mad. He’s scary when he’s mad (he’s scary when he’s not mad, too).


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