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Book 2, Chapter 22 Notes from A Tale of Two Cities

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A Tale of Two Cities Book 2, Chapter 22

A week passes. Madame Defarge sits, presiding over the customers. The villagers are conducting themselves differently, with the defiant confidence of people who have nothing to lose and are willing to risk death for what they feel is just. A member of Madame Defarge's sisterhood sits knitting beside her. The woman, the wife of a starved grocer and two children, has earned the nickname The Vengeance. Defarge enters. He addresses them all as patriots and tells them he has news--a man named Foulon, who once told the peasants they could eat grass and who was thought to be dead, is alive and has been discovered. After a moment of silence, the armed crowd goes out to have their vengeance on the cruel Foulon:

"From such household occupations as their bare poverty yielded, from their children, from their aged and their sick crouching on the bare ground famished and naked, they ran out with streaming hair, urging one another, and themselves, to madness with the wildest cries and actions. Villain Foulon taken, my sister! Old Foulon taken, my mother! Miscreant Foulon taken, my daughter! Then, a score of others ran into the midst of these, beating their breasts, tearing their hair, and screaming, Foulon alive! Foulon who told the starving people they might eat grass! Foulon who told my old father that he might eat grass, when I had no bread to give him! Foulon who told my baby it might suck grass, when these breasts were dry with want! O mother of God, this Foulon! O Heaven, our suffering! Hear me, my dead baby and my withered father: I swear on my knees, on these stones, to avenge you on Foulon!" Book 2, Chapter 22, pg. 219

Topic Tracking: Oppression/Class Struggle 8

They find Foulon and tie him up. They prepare to hang him, and Madame Defarge presides over the affair with murderous gusto. They hang him, with his mouth stuffed full of grass. Now angrier than ever, the mob learns that the son-in-law of Foulon--"another of the people's enemies and insulters"--is coming into Paris with a cavalry of 500. They quickly find him, murder him, and set his head and heart on pikes. They parade these, along with the dead Foulon, through the streets raucously. They return to their homes; while hungry, they are filled with the satisfaction of human fellowship. That night, Defarge tells his wife that what they longed for has at last come. She coolly replies, "Almost." And the village drops off to sleep.

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