Tale of Two Cities: Chapter 16 Summary and Analysis

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Book of Second: The Golden Thread
Chapter 16: Still Knitting

Summary
On their return to Saint Antoine, a policeman tells the Defarges that there is a spy in their neighborhood. He gives them a description of his appearance, as well as his name- John Barsad. Madame Defarge decides to knit his name into the register. When they finally arrive at their home, Madame Defarge counts the money that was made while they were away and Defarge concedes to his fears and doubts about the revolution. Madame Defarge encourages him in her comparison of the revolution to lightning and earthquakes. Lightning storms and earthquakes both take some time to form, but when they are ready, they can destroy anything in their paths. The revolution may take a very long time to begin, but when it does, it would be unstoppable. The next day, Barsad, the spy, comes into the wine-shop looking to glean a little information from the Defarges. As he walks in, however, Madame Defarge recognizes him from the description previously given to her. She picks a up a rose from beside her and casually puts it in her hair. As they notice, customers start to trickle out of the store. Barsad carries the pretense of a friend and advocate to the revolution, comments on the cruelty shown to the peasants, and addresses the “apparent” unrest the area was under following Gaspard’s execution. The Defarges admit to nothing and feign indifference. When he sees no succeeding in his approach, Barsad tells the Defarges the news about Miss Lucie Manette. He tells them she is going to marry a Mr Charles Darnay, a French nobleman who is, in fact, the late Marquis’ nephew and heir. After hearing this news, Madame Defarge knits the name Charles Darnay into the registry.

Analysis
Charles Dickens uses this chapter to expand on characters and set the mood for future events. Dickens uses allusion and symbolism to amplify the topic of death (which is vital for the theme of resurrection). He more fully develops the...
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