David Copperfield: Chapter 7 - Critical Summary

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Chapter 7: My 'First Half' at Salem House

      On the opening day of school Mr. Creakle made a threatening speech and Tungay, the man with the wooden leg repeated it in a loud voice. That very day Mr. Crealde caned many of the boys including David.

      Traddles was always caned. He often suffered for the others because he had a sense of honor. One day Steerforth laughed in the Church and Traddles was suspected for this and punished. Steerforth complimented him by saying that there was nothing of the sneak in him. David's placard was removed from his back because it came in the way whenever Mr. Creakle wanted to cane him in passing.

      Steerforth's protection continued to be available to David. He kept no secrets from Steerforth and on his request narrated the story of the book he had read. David was fond of Mr. Mell as well but he was pained to see Steerforth ill-treating Mr. Mell. One day Steerforth insulted Mr. Mell in front of the whole school. He said that the master was an impudent beggar as his mother lived on charity in an alms-house. Mr. Mell retorted that Steerforth was taking undue advantage of the headmaster's favors. When Mr. Creakle heard of this, he dismissed Mr. Mell and praised Steerforth for upholding the respectability of Salem House. Traddles wept bitterly at this injustice and was therefore caned by Mr. Creakle.

      A memorable incident of the first half-term at Salem House was the visit of Ham and Mr. Peggotty. Steerforth was introduced to them by David. The two visitors invited Steerforth to visit Yarmouth along with David. They had brought some shellfish for David and all the boys relished it at supper that night. When the holidays came, David worried that no one would send for him. Luckily, at last, David found out the Yarmouth mail that he would spent the winter holidays at home.

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