Hard Times

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Hard Times Book 3, Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
"Bitzer," says Mr. Gradgrind, "have you a heart?" Naturally, his old star pupil does not, and neither will he be swayed by money, or any pleading from his old teacher. He believes that by turning in Tom he will get Tom's job, and his education taught him only to look out for himself.
Bitzer, of course, due to his education, has no heart. He doesn't care what happens to Tom or Gradgrind. He cares only about himself, and what he can get for himself.
Themes
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Mr. Sleary steps in to say that he must agree with Bitzer, and that he will let Bitzer use his carriage to take Tom back to Coketown. Louisa and Gradgrind are dismayed, but Sissy recognizes that Sleary, in fact, has a plan to free Tom. Sleary reveals quietly to Sissy that she was right: he is going to use the trick circus horses and barking circus dogs to hold up and trick Bitzer, while switching Tom to another carriage and returning him to his ship in Liverpool. Sleary appears at the inn where Gradgrind is staying for the night to reveal that the plan worked to perfection.
The Gradgrind's with their lack of "fancy" can't "read" people the way that Sissy can. They don't understand that Sleary is pulling a fast one to try to help them. The Gradgrinds would be lost if he hadn't decided to help them for the sake of Sissy, and even those fact-educated brains couldn't think of the solution to their problem that this uneducated circus man did.
Themes
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon
Gradgrind tries to pay Sleary, but Sleary refuses any money, saying instead that Gradgrind should just let people visit the circus the next time it's near Coketown. Sleary then reveals that Sissy's father's dog recently made its way back to the circus, which must mean that he has died. Before leaving, Sleary tells Gradgrind that it's important that people have amusement, and that working without pleasure is no way to live.
Gradgrind still sees the world as transactional—someone does something for you, you pay them. Sleary, in contrast, seems to see it was relational; kindness should be met with kindness. Sleary's final words are another attack against the "fact-based" world of industrialization, which treats people like mere cogs and does not attend to the "Fancy" they need in life to truly thrive.
Themes
Fact vs. Fancy Theme Icon