This section of the novel also reveals changes in Tom and Louisa’s relationship. Ever since Tom asked Louisa to marry Bounderby for his sake, he has been growing increasingly distant from his sister. While he formerly confided in her and treated her affectionately, Tom now becomes sulky, refusing to answer her questions regarding his knowledge of the bank robbery. Indeed, Louisa is beset by problems on all sides. Not only must she contend with Tom’s sulky silence and his requests for money, but she is also prey to Mr. Harthouse’s advances. Meanwhile, Bounderby remains oblivious to her precarious situation, as he is concerned only with the bank robbery. Again, Louisa’s problems point toward the approaching climax of the novel.

The reappearance of the mysterious Mrs. Pegler in Chapter 6 illustrates the important role that seemingly minor characters play in Dickens’s novels. Characters such as Bitzer, Mr. Sleary, and Mrs. Pegler serve to draw together the many divergent plot strands, thereby moving the narrative forward. With Mrs. Pegler’s second appearance, we begin to realize that she must be somehow important to the plot. While Dickens keeps us in suspense about who she is and why she is important, he does provide some significant clues. For instance, when Stephen asks her if she has any children, Mrs. Pegler does not say that her son is dead, but instead replies, “I have lost him.” Furthermore, when Mrs. Pegler believes that Bounderby is about to enter Stephen’s room, she becomes extremely agitated and looks for a means to escape. From these details, and from the fact that she journeys to Coketown each year simply to catch a glimpse of him, we can infer that Mrs. Pegler is in some way connected to Bounderby.