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The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy - Study Guide Volume 9 Summary & Analysis

This Study Guide consists of approximately 29 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy.
This section contains 540 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)

Volume 9 Summary

The volume continues with Toby and Trim making their way to Widow Wadham's front door with Tristram's mother and father watching on from afar. Tristram's mother and father talk about her idea of spying on events through the keyhole. Tristram's father is not completely opposed to the idea but his philosophizing on the subject makes his wife feel like a criminal. Meanwhile, on the steps of the Widow's house, Trim, talks about his brother Tom's misfortune with his Jewish wife. Inquisitors took in his brother due to a problem about his wife, and now Trim presumes his brother is dead. Because of this event, Trim is against marriage.

Tristram then makes a digression in the story, but returns to explain his Uncle's hesitation upon entering the house. Toby tells Trim to wait while he makes up his mind. Behind the door, Bridget waits for the knock and Widow Wadham spies on the two men through a window. Finally, Trim knocks on the door, and the two men enter. Tristram follows this event with two blank chapters.

In the house, Trim goes to talk with Bridget, and Toby follows Widow Wadham. At this point, the two men's injuries become part of the conversation. Widow Wadham, worried about the extent of Toby's groin injury, wants to see exactly where he was injured. Toby misunderstands and orders Trim to get the battle map, so he can point out the exact position. When he returns with the map, Toby places her finger on the exact position in Namur. Meanwhile Bridget tells Trim that she has heard Toby is impotent, and Trim vehemently denies the rumors. The two relationships blossom, and while Trim romances Bridget, Toby asks Widow Wadham to marry him.

Volume 9 Analysis

The final volume degenerates into a complete farce, but as mentioned above, the entire novel is so over the top that the reader should regard it an example of avant garde storytelling. For example, Tristam interrupts an important moment with blank chapters, and then following the blank chapters with the claim he will return to their real content later. This, of course, completely changes the narrative sequence and serves to give Tristram back the self-reflexive poise he had previously lost. Tristram also returns to his earlier theme of groin injuries: Tristram suffers accidental circumcision; a stone hits Toby in the groin during a battle and Yorick drops a hot chestnut in the groin of the writer Phutatorius. In this volume the Widow Wadham insists on seeing Toby's wound, but Toby is so clueless, he thinks she wants to see the exact point on the map were he sustained the injury.

It is interesting here that Tristram presents women as loose and more sexually active than the male characters. The other example is Bridget questioning Trim on whether or not Toby is impotent. Both women are more sexually aggresive in comparison to Toby and Trim, whom Tristram presents as celibate. This is a further example of Tristram's obvious distrust for women. Even at the beginning of this volume, his mother suggests that she spy on Toby and the Widow Wadham through the Widow's keyhole. By the end of the novel, Walter delivers a discourse about woman's obsession with sex.

This section contains 540 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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