Resurrection Men

Like Hazel I find ‘no spoilers’ a drag but now we can see where we are going and have some idea what the story is about.

I have just returned from a morning walk with dear Mrs. B. who had turned right at a path I would normally avoid. It led us down to a busy trunk road with a narrow path between a verge and a hedge. With the lady in front we ambled along until with a joyful squeak she leaned into the bushes and began to laugh.

“I haven’t done this since I was a child.” she said, whilst popping small white globes hanging in bundles from some shrubs in the hedge.

Over the next fifty yards our advance was slow as she popped, popped and laughed with sparkling eyes. Myself?

My thoughts went back to other autumns when gangs of us would cut pipes from hogweed and ‘pluff’ out haws at one another then run through woods kicking up great showers of leaves.

When the hedgerow of snow white globes ran out we almost skipped back home.

At some time, like Mr. Lorry, we all turn back to a life long past, and wonder at our return to the beginning to resurrect some distant part of our being.

Resurrection of one kind or another is this week’s theme. While Carton pens his sheep, Lorry queries Jerry about his past as a resurrection man and finds himself stymied by Jerry’s reply. Carton we find has a past once full of promise which he seems to regret – “[…] my young way was never the way to age.” and he ruminates about it as he paces the night with the opening of the order of burial service ringing through his head  just as Lorry  was stuck with the refrain “Buried how long?” “Almost eighteen years.” as he travelled through dark night at the beginning of the Tale.

Lorry’s journey ended with the resurrection of Manette. Can we take it that Sydney’s tramp will end in the resurrection of Darnay? With chemicals in his pocket and a one time chance to meet with Lucie’s husband in prison just what is he up to? Saltpetre, sulphur and charcoal would be enough to blow a hole in a wall if tamped down by something like a heavy riding coat but  that seems a bit trite.

Whatever it is that he is going to do he is doing it for Lucie and must be something to do with resurrection and light rather that burial and darkness which appear to be the  themes of the story. Whatever happens I’m clenching teeth to resist reading on.

Dickens would be pleased.

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7 thoughts on “Resurrection Men

  1. This is my favourite chapter in this book. I find the scene where Carton stands by the River and stares at the eddy churning purposelessly to be one of the most poignant scenes I’ve ever read.
    It’s interesting to contrast this with the chapter The Jackal, where Carton reveals that both he and Stryver were schoolmates at Shrewsbury school and as students in France where they picked up French Language and Law. It seems that even then, Carton did the work of the other boys but not his own. Perhaps what he is planning will involve him doing this once again.
    Another similarity of this chapter and that is that they both include a sunrise. The sunrise in the first chapter shines on the waste within him and shows mirages of what could have been. This sunrise is upon Carton asleep by the river.

    • Do you know, I’ve read this book umpteen times, and I totally missed the parallel sunrises? That’s the wonderful thing about this read-through — I’m learning so much from all of you that I’ve never even noticed before!

  2. Sunrise and sunset both play an important part throughout the story, and are in effect metaphors for hope and life/despair and death?
    Remembering the verse that was running through his head as he walked the night it strikes me that Carton is being reborn, baptised by the river in which the eddies of sin are washed away by “Times ever rolling stream.”

  3. Thanks Mr Booley – I really liked your account of the things that can recall us to our past lives. In this instalment I very much enjoyed the practical autopsy that Jerry gives the body snatching trade, exposing all involved from respectable doctors to paid off undertakers, parish clerks, sextons and private watchmen. Folks in the London area might be interested in the Museum of London exhibition currently on this theme: http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/London-Wall/Whats-on/Exhibitions-Displays/Doctors-Dissection-Resurrection-Men/
    Is it a bit odd, given all the value of ‘recalling to life’ in various forms through this novel, that Jerry promises Lorry he will reform by going ‘into the line of the reg’lar diggin’, and make amends for what he would have un-dug’?

    • Thanks for posting a link to the Museum of Lon exhibit! It looks like it would be fascinating, but I’m concerned I wouldn’t be able to stomach it. If you, or anyone, sees exhibits that are relevant to these subjects, I’d love to see more.

    • Jerry , I think, has it in mind to become a sexton digging new graves. With the knowledge so gained he can still take part in resurrection without having to ‘un-dig’ anything himself.

    • The novel opens with the unnatural event of recalling to life, unearthing a man once buried alive. Jerry, seeking closure, offers to bury the dead. It seems that the natural order of things is being restored in the run up to the story’s close.

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