Hard Times

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Hard Times Book 1, Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Upon returning home in the rain after his shift, Stephen finds that Rachael is there, caring for his wife. Rachael mentions that this is a duty of friendship she feels she owes his wife, as they grew up together and were best friends when Stephen proposed to his wife. Stephen groans at this reminder. Rachael continues tending to the unconscious woman's wounds with great care, while Stephen is overcome by the memory of the dark thoughts he had had of his wife while walking home, and eventually falls into an uneasy slumber.
Rachael's tenderness in caring for Stephen's wife and her old friend show what great good one loving woman can do. Rachael is depicted as a kind of saint. The clear implication in Rachel's story of growing up with Stephen's wife is that Stephen could have picked Rachael, but didn't, thus dooming himself. Why Stephen picked as he did, or why his wife became a drunk and a prostitute, is never explained
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He awakes to the sight of his sick wife sitting up in bed, attempting to end her life by poisoning herself. Stephen freezes, but Rachael snatches the poison away from her just in time. The sick woman again falls asleep, and Rachael sorrowfully takes of her leave of unhappy Stephen and his unconscious wife.
Stephen's hesitation in preventing his wife from committing suicide shows just how much he wishes he could escape from his marriage. That Rachael acts immediately despite her own clear love for Stephen shows what an incredibly good and unselfish person she is.
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