Hard Times: Book 3 Chapter 6 - Summary & Analysis

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Summary

      In the course of their walk through the fields on the following Sunday, Rachael and Sissy find Stephen’s hat lying crushed in the grass. Rachael takes its meaning that Stephen has been killed and his dead body must be somewhere nearby. The hat was stained with rain and dew and it seems that it is lying there for many days. Sissy suggests exploring the area around the spot but as she steps forward Rachael catches hold of her and screams loudly Very close to their feet, there is the edge of chasm hidden in the thick grass. Quickly they move back and thank God for having saved their life.

      Now, these two women think that Stephen must have fallen into that very chasm. He may be lying dead at its bottom, but there is also the possibility of his. being still alive if badly hurt. Both women feel the need of calling others for help. They run in various directions to call men for help and after tiring efforts become able to fetch a number of men near the chasm. Sissy also sends message to inform Louisa about the whole matter. In two hours crowd has gathered around and a surgeon is summoned to attend upon Stephen.

      Within four hours men have become successful to find Stephen who is yet alive but due to his fall into the chasm, his body has been crushed. He is unable to move. He fell into the chasm in the course of his return to Coketown in response to Rachael’s letter to clear himself out from the charges. Some kind of therapy is provided to him and he smiles on seeing Rachael and says “And Rachael it is all a muddle. From first to last a muddle.” He says that he is not guilty but innocent.

      Stephen’s injuries do not seem to be curled. He says that he wants to talk to Gradgrind. When Gradgrind comes, Stephen says that he is innocent and Tom would reveal the truth of bank robbery case. So Gradgrind should talk to him. Stephen dies in his way of being taken back to Coketown.

Critical Analysis

      This chapter is highly dramatic. While walking in the field Rachael and Sissy come upon the point where they find Stephen’s hat lying on the ground and crushed badly This makes it very clear that Stephen is greatly injured. Stephen’s rescue and death after giving hints about the bank robber is very dramatic and also touching. The funeral procession of Stephen is full of pathos.

      Rachael’s love for Stephen is shown in all its intensity; when she sees the hat of Stephen and thinks about the probable murder. She becomes lunatic with grief Sissy’s effort to comfort her is also noteworthy here. Her efforts to call men for Stephen’s help is very commendable.

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