BOOK THE THIRD
NOTE: "Garnering" is the name of Book the Third. To "garner" is to
"store up" the results of a harvest. We have seen the reaping of the Bounderby and Gradgrind
"crops," and the harvesting that resulted in Louisa's failed marriage and Tom's crime. Now,
in this final book, you will see what is "garnered"- taken home to store for the future- by the
Louisa wakes up in her old room, weak and in pain. She learns from Jane that Sissy brought her here and stayed the night at her bedside.
Gradgrind comes into Louisa's room, saddened and inarticulate. He can scarcely express his regret to Louisa for what has happened to her. This is a remarkable admission for a man as proud as Gradgrind. We have seen brief glimpses of a human being in his behavior before, but he is now truly a changed man. Dickens attests to his sincerity in this scene, saying that Gradgrind "meant to do great things." Elsewhere, Dickens wrote: "...there is reason and good intention in much that he does- but... he overdoes it."
Do you expect a similar change of heart from Bounderby?
Louisa is moved by her father's response, saying that she doesn't blame him and never will. But Gradgrind has no advice in regard to Harthouse. Gradgrind has heard that there is a wisdom of the head and a wisdom of the heart, but he is not sure if that is true. He had always thought the head was sufficient to solve all problems.
Gradgrind's reference to the heart and the head points to one of the novel's major themes- the need to balance intelligence and emotion to achieve happiness.
Sissy comes in as Gradgrind leaves. Louisa pretends to be asleep; she's upset that Sissy should see her so distraught. Then she feels Sissy's tears on her face and is moved that anyone should care for her so deeply. When Sissy offers her love, the dams of emotion burst inside Louisa. She asks Sissy's forgiveness as the two embrace warmly.
Sissy represents the wisdom of the heart that Gradgrind is not sure exists. Louisa has been leaning in the heart's direction for a long time, but her upbringing and pride have kept her at a distance. As she embraces Sissy, she symbolically embraces the power of love and all that it can accomplish.
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