Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday morsel: "to wait for morning"

Right now I'm re-reading (among other things) Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist as part of Classical Quest's synchro-read.  I read this book for a course back in university and am enjoying the opportuntiy to revisit it.  Dickens is so over-the-top in some of his satire that I sometimes find myself amused by his characters but not necessarily deeply touched by the plight of the poor in his novel.  But there are some very moving passages as well. I think this scene -- in which Oliver prepares to escape the undertaker's shop where he has been apprenticed -- is wonderful both at showing Oliver's suffering and at creating a vivid atmosphere.

It was not until he was left alone in the silence and stillness of the gloomy workshop of the undertaker, that Oliver gave way to the feelings which the day's treatment may be supposed likely to have awakened in a mere child.  He had listened to their taunts with a look of contempt; he had borne the lash without a cry:  for he felt that pride swelling in his heart which would have kept down a shriek to the last, though they had roasted him alive.  But now, when there were none to see or hear him, he fell upon his knees on the floor; and, hiding his face in his hands, wept such tears as, God send for the credit of our nature, few so young may ever have cause to pour out before him.


For a long time, Oliver remained motionless in this attitude.  The candle was burning low in the socket when he rose to his feet.  Having gazed cautiously around him, and listened intently, he gently undid the fastenings of the door, and looked abroad.

 


It was a cold, dark night.  The stars seemed, to the boy's eyes, farther from the earth than he had ever seen them before; there was no wind; and the sombre shadows thrown by the trees upon the ground, looked sepulchral and deathlike, from being so still.  He softly reclosed the door.  Having availed himself of the expiring light of the candle to tie up in a handkerchief the few articles of wearing apparel he had, sat himself down upon a bench, to wait for morning.

With the first ray of light that struggled through the crevices in the shutters, Oliver arose, and again unbarred the door.  One timid look around -- one moment's pause of hesitation -- he had closed it behind him, and was in the open street.

2 comments:

  1. Unbarring the door. That reminds me of Jesus setting captives free, and of him being the Gate we walk through to freedom.

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    Replies
    1. Great connection! And ... do we have the courage to leave the "devil we know" and step into the unknown? Oliver pauses, but goes.

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