Book IIIChapter 13 “Fifty-two”
Title Significance • Fifty-two is the number of people who will be executed on the day of Darnay’s planned execution. This has been established as one death for every week of the year. • 52 also relates to the number of cards in a deck, gping back to the conversation between Carton and Barsad in “A Hand at Cards”.
“The Fate” • Everyone is being executed at this point in the revolution, from the Farmer-General (the very rich) to the seamstress (very poor). • Darnay has mixed thoughts and emotions on the day of his death: *He knows that he’s a goner *Giving in to this helpless feeling makes him feel guilty about leaving his wife and child behind *He realizes that he’s just one of many innocents to face this unjust fate of La Guillotine
“The Letters” • Darnay writes a letter telling Lucie he knew nothing of Dr. Manette’s “substance of the shadow” before the trial. • He also writes a letter to Dr. Manette, asking his father-in-law to take care of Lucie and Little Lucie in his absence. • Darnay has a vivid dream of being safe from harm. • He curiously ponders what the Guillotine actually looks like, and what the process of execution consists of.
“The Switch” • Sydney Carton arrives at the cell, using the ether to put Darnay to sleep, and switching clothes. • Barsad is part of the operation, and whisks the “fainted” “Carton” away from the Conciergerie. • A fellow prisoner notices the switcheroo, and asks if Carton will hold her hand as they are waiting to be executed; Carton obliges. • Meanwhile, the rest of our heroes approach the Barrier, and are able to escape France with their passes.
Literary Devices • Biblical allusion: Jesus was crucified at the age of 33, and at the “ninth hour”, which can be interpreted as 3 p.m. Carton will die at 3 p.m. as well, and has been cited as the Christ figure in this novel. • Doubles: The theme of doubles is prominent in this chapter and it finally makes sense as to why Dickens stressed the similar appearances of Carton and Darnay. • Satire: “’So afflcited to find that his friend has drawn a prize in the lottery of Sainte Guillotine?’” ~The guillotine and the execution process are joked about here in order to lighten the mood during this horrific period of time.
Essential Quote • “As the patient eyes were lifted to his face, he saw a sudden doubt in them, and then astonishment. He pressed the work-worn, hunger-worn young fingers, and touched his lips. ‘Are you dying for him?’ she whispered. ‘And his wife and child. Hush! Yes.’ ‘O you will let me hold your brave hand, stranger?’ ‘Hush! Yes, my poor sister; to the last.’”