A Tale of Two Cities


Book 2, Chapter 14

Moving away from Lucie’s suitors, this chapter focuses again on Jerry Cruncher.  He is sitting outside of Tellson’s Bank, presumably waiting to hear if his services are needed, when he sees a funeral procession.  There is a crowd around the procession, and people are calling the deceased a spy.  Cruncher finds out that the dead man is Roger Cly, whom he saw when he sat in on Darnay’s trial for treason.  The crowd becomes vicious with the funeral procession.  There is only a single mourner, and they manage to scare him away from the funeral.  The crowd also initially tries to get the coffin off of the hearse, but then decides only to accompany the hearse to the cemetery.   Cruncher opts to join the crowd and watches the coffin get buried.  The crowd turns unruly and begins to riot.  The crowd breaks up when they hear that the police are approaching. 

The reason that Cruncher accompanied the crowd becomes clear that night.  After his wife and son go to bed, Cruncher leaves the house.  Unbeknownst to Cruncher, his son, Jerry, follows him.  He has several tools with him, including a crowbar, a rope, a chain, and a sack.  He meets up with two men, and the trio heads to the graveyard.  They dig up the coffin and start to open it.  Young Jerry runs home, and thus does not see what happens once the coffin is open.  The next morning, the Cruncher household is in turmoil, and Cruncher is beating his wife.  While he is clearly not a good husband, Cruncher does appear to be a fairly decent father, and when he leaves for work that morning, young Jerry accompanies him.  They have a conversation about the meaning of the term “resurrection man.”  Cruncher explains that the term refers to a grave robber who sells the bodies after he digs them up from the ground.  Rather than showing horror, young Jerry seems to admire his father, telling him that he wants to grow up to be a resurrection man.

At first glance, this chapter appears to diverge...

Sign up to continue reading Book 2, Chapter 14 >

Essays About A Tale of Two Cities