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Book 2, Chapter 15 Notes from A Tale of Two Cities

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A Tale of Two Cities Book 2, Chapter 15

In Monsieur Defarge's wine shop, people are drinking earlier than usual, as they have been for three straight days. Monsieur Defarge enters and bids everyone good day. One man gets up and leaves. Monsieur Defarge tells his wife that he has been traveling with a man, a mender of roads, named Jacques, and he tells her to give him a drink. Another man then gets up and leaves. Madame Defarge gives Jacques a drink; he sips it while eating his bread. A third man gets up and leaves. After awhile, Monsieur Defarge asks Jacques if he is ready to see the apartment that he has told him he can occupy. Jacques says yes. The two men make their way through courtyard, up the stairs, to the garret where Dr. Manette once sat making shoes several years ago. The men who left the wine shop are already waiting here.

Defarge closes the door behind them and addresses the men as Jacques One, Jacques Two, and Jacques Three. He tells them that he has brought the witness Jacques Five, which he, Jacques Four, has told them about. Jacques Five, the mender of roads, begins to speak. He tells the other men that he saw "him" a year ago, hanging by a chain underneath the carriage of the Marquis. One man asks if he ever saw the man before; another says no. Another man then asks how he could have recognized him again, if he had never seen him before that. The mender of roads answers that it is because he was so tall; he says that when the Marquis asked what the man looked like he replied that he was as tall as a spectre. The mender of roads tells the men that months later, he was at work on the hillside and about to go home when he saw six soldiers coming over the hill with a tall man with his arms bound to his side. He recognized the tall man, and he believed the tall man recognized him. The prisoner was taken to the prison near the village.

The villagers began to whisper about the prisoner. They whispered that while the man had been condemned to death, he would not be executed, as a petition had been circulated showing that the man had been enraged by the death of his child, and that the petition had been circulated to the King himself. Despite the petition, he says, the villagers whispered that the man would be executed anyway because he killed Monsieur the Marquis. One Sunday night, while all the villagers slept, workers began constructing a gallows that was forty feet high. At midday, the prisoner was wheeled up to the gallows, where he was hanged.

He tells the men that is the end of his story, and that he left at sunset as he had been warned to do, and that he kept walking until he met Monsieur Defarge. The men ask the man to leave for a moment. When he does, Jacques One asks Defarge how he will be registered. Defarge answers he will be registered "as doomed to destruction." The man says magnificent and inquires if he means "the chateau and all the race?" Defarge answers yes.

Topic Tracking: Oppression/Class Struggle 6

The next day, Monsieur and Madame Defarge and the mender of roads travel to Versailles to see the king and queen. The mender of roads is not thrilled to be traveling with Madame Defarge, as he is secretly afraid of her. He is also disconcerted to see her knitting incessantly amid the crowd, in broad daylight. Soon, the royal procession passes; it is such a spectacle of riches, wealth, and beauty that the mender of roads, beside himself, exclaims "Long live the King! Long live the Queen!" After the procession, Defarge pats the mender on the back, telling him that he has done a good job--he has made the crowds believe that the royal reign will last forever, thus making them more insolent and bringing an end to it sooner. Madame Defarge takes a jab at him for his enthusiasm regarding the royals and orders him to go home.

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