Chapters 5 and 6: Echoing footsteps
Carton awakes in a tavern and walks to Stryver’s Chambers to do some
work. Carton and Stryver both attended school together in Paris, but they have had different fortunes since then, Stryver moving to the top of his profession while Carton remains in his shadow.
They discuss Lucie Manette who Stryver admires, but whom Carton dismisses as a golden-haired doll. With dawn breaking Carton heads home wondering how much richer his life might have been if he had practiced self-denial and perseverance. When he arrives home at this empty room he breaks down in tears.
Four months have passed since the trial and Lorry, Darnay and Carton become
regular visitors to the Manettes where Miss Pross is still Lucie’s companion, having previously been her nursemaid.
Miss Pross is concerned at the number of suitors Lucie has received, none of which are worthy of her. In fact it is only Lorry, Darnay and Carton.
Darnay tells a story of how a prisoner in the Tower of London had written on
the walls of his cell, the word ‘Dig’. Apparently year’s later workmen had found papers in a leather case. This immediately brings an alarming reaction from Dr. Manette.
Clearly Darnay has struck a nerve.
The position of the Manette’s house is such that they can hear the sounds of
footsteps that are quite far off, and on this particular still evening, with the rain falling, these footsteps seem louder than usual.
Lucie shares a fancy that ‘the echoes of all the footsteps are coming
by-and-by into our lives’. Carton comments that the footsteps symbolize a great crowd that will one day come for our lives.
Dickens continues to develop Carton’s character in these chapters showing
that he has failed to live up to his potential, being undoubtedly more intelligent than Stryver.
The events of the trial have rekindled feelings of disappointment in Carton. He is taken with Lucie Manette and although he does not show this publicly, he knows that because of the choices he has made she will be out of his reach.
Reference is made again to the Doctor’s imprisonment, the reasons for which
are still a mystery, but Dickens hints that he too has buried something in his cell, which at one stage was the only words he would say, i.e. the location of his cell in the Bastille.
The book is called The Golden Thread and Lucie is becoming more and more
important in the novel. She will end up being its central character.
Dickens states that ‘everything turned upon her and revolved around her’,
suggesting that her sphere of influence reaches far beyond her father and will affect others in the book. She possesses the quality to bring out the best in people and inspires them to be more than what they
are. Her father has become much more than a shoemaking prisoner and Mr. Lorry has become more than just a businessman.
The two main characters she will influence are Darnay and Carton. These will be more dramatic.
Dickens has created a book full of ugliness, squalor and violence, but Lucie
holds the beacon of innocence and humanity throughout the book. She is, therefore, the golden thread that runs through it, hence the title of the second book.