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David Copperfield

Charles Dickens

Chapters XI–XIV

Chapters VII–X

Chapters XI–XIV, page 2

page 1 of 3

Summary — Chapter XI. I begin Life on my own Account, and don’t like it

I wonder what they thought of me!

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David’s companions at Mr. Murdstone’s business dismay David. They are coarse, uneducated boys whose fathers work in blue-collar professions. David meets Mr. Micawber, a poor but genteel man who speaks in tremendous phrases and makes a great show of nobility despite his shabby appearance. Through an agreement with Mr. Murdstone, David goes to live with Mr. Micawber, his wife, and four children. The Micawbers befriend David and openly tell him of their financial troubles, each time becoming overwhelmingly upset and then recovering fully over good food and wine.

David gets very little pay at his factory job and lives primarily on bread. In retrospect, David wonders what the waiters and shopkeepers must have thought of him, so independent at so young an age. At the factory, David is known as “the little gent” and gets along fine because he never complains. Eventually, Mr. Micawber’s debts overwhelm him. He is thrown into debtors’ prison, where he becomes a political figure among the inmates, lobbying to eliminate that establishment.

Summary — Chapter XII. Liking Life on my own Account no better, I form a great Resolution.

Mr. Micawber is released from jail and his debts are resolved. The family decides to move to look for work. David decides he will not stay in London without the Micawbers and resolves to run away to his aunt Betsey. He borrows some money from Peggotty and hires a young man to help him move his box to the coach station. Along the way, the young man steals David’s money and possessions.

Summary — Chapter XIII. The Sequel of my Resolution

David sells some of the clothes he is wearing in order to buy food. The shopkeepers who buy the clothes take advantage of him, and travelers abuse him on the road. David arrives at the home of his aunt, Miss Betsey Trotwood, who initially tries to send him away.

When he tells her that he is her nephew, she consults with Mr. Dick, the man who lives upstairs in her home. Mr. Dick suggests that before she do anything, she give David a bath. Miss Betsey repeatedly compares David to the sister he never had and concludes that his sister would not have done the stupid things David has done.

Miss Betsey is a tough, sharp woman obsessed with keeping donkeys off the grass in front of her house. She bathes and feeds David and speaks to Mr. Dick at length about David’s mother, whom she pitied very much. David is nervous about whether his aunt will keep him or will send him away.

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