A Handful of Dust - Chapter Six, Du Cote de Chez Todd Summary & Analysis

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Chapter Six, Du Cote de Chez Todd Summary

Mr. Todd has lived in the city called Amazonas for sixty years, essentially with no one knowing of his existence. The area which he lived were often claimed to be owned by both Brazil and Dutch Guiana, but none of the inhabitants recognize either government. Mr. Todd's house is distinctly close to the waters where Messinger's life ended. One of the Pie-Wie Indians whose village surrounds Todd's come to him with news that there is a stranger wandering through the forest. The man is Tony and he is still babbling in an incoherent state. He sees Todd's hut and comments, As the days pass, Todd nurses Tony with herbal medicines, and he slowly returns to life.

Tony and Mr. Todd don't speak much and Tony spends most of his time awake thinking about Brenda. Once Tony makes it through a full week without fever, Todd shows Tony his collection of books. Tony feels restless and starts to mention arrangements for leaving. As Tony presses the questioning, asking for a boat or means of transportation, Mr. Todd becomes obviously evasive. Tony tries talking to the Pie-Wie people about building a canoe in the language he picked up from the Macushi, but they don't respond. It is when Tony is reading one night that he realizes his fate. He finds a promissory note that the black man, Mr. Forbes drew up to hold Mr. Todd to their agreement to set him free. Tony tried refusing to read only to see Mr. Todd threateningly place a gun nearby.

Weeks pass with no change in Mr. Todd and Tony's routine. Finally a stranger comes to the city and gives Tony a renewed hope. Mr. Todd rushes the stranger away, but Tony has time to write his name on paper and slip it to the man. When weeks pass with no sign of hope, Tony decides to be cordial with Todd and obliges to take part in a celebration the Pie-Wie have planned. He is given a drink called piwari and is told that it is in good manners to drink the entire portion at once. He is handed numerous servings of the drink and while the Indians dance and celebrate, Tony sleeps. He wakes up with a headache, missing his watch and feeling strange. Tony finds out that he has been tricked. He was asleep for two days, long enough that he missed the search party who arrived looking for him. Todd gave the men Tony's watch as proof that he was there and showed them the gravesite of Mr. Forbes, implying that Tony was buried there. They both know that Tony's last hope of leaving is now lost.

Chapter Six, Du Cote de Chez Todd Analysis

Mr. Todd is the topping on Tony's torment. When he thought in the previous chapter that he found the gates of Heaven, it was in fact the exact opposite. Brenda's infidelity and Messinger's incompetence led him straight into the hands of the devil. He compares his trust for Brenda and Messinger in his unintelligible babbling. "You're the first person who's spoken to me in days . . . the others won't stop . . . Brenda was with me at first but she took the canoe and went off. She said she would come back that evening but she didn't. I expect she's staying with one of her new friends . . . rotten thing for a man to have his wife go away in a canoe. That was a long time ago. Nothing to eat since". Brenda and Messinger's action intertwine perfectly. Brenda also told Tony that she would be right back on her first trip to London but she never really returned.

Again, language is used to foreshadow what is to come. Mr. Todd is illiterate but plays on his words the entire chapter. "There is medicine for everything in the forest . . . to make you well and to make you ill . . . to cure you and give you fever, to kill you and send you mad". Todd establishes his power as soon as Tony is coherent enough to hear his words. "That is why they obey—for that reason and because I have the gun". If Tony paid attention he would have known his host's ill intentions from the start. The first book Todd has Tony read is Bleak House, a Charles Dickens story where a dispute among the main characters leads to chaos and consequences for them all. This appears to be the state that all of these characters are left in as the novel wraps up.

This section contains 773 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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