North and South

North and South

by

Elizabeth Gaskell

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John Boucher Character Analysis

A neighbor of the Higgins family, Boucher is an unskilled worker with a large family to support. He frequently argues with Higgins about the strike, calling the union a pitiless “tyrant” because of its attempts to coerce the wills of its members. He helps instigate the riot at Marlborough Mills. Not long after the riot, an ostracized Boucher commits suicide. Higgins, repentant of his role in pushing Boucher to desperation, takes responsibility for his orphaned children.

John Boucher Quotes in North and South

The North and South quotes below are all either spoken by John Boucher or refer to John Boucher. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Nostalgia and Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of North and South published in 1996.
Chapter 19 Quotes

“Yo’ know well, that a worser tyrant than e’er th’ masters were says. ‘Clem to death, and see ‘em a’ clem to death, ere yo’ dare go again th’ Union.’ Yo’ know it well, Nicholas, for a’ yo’re one on ‘em. Yo’ may be kind hearts, each separate; but once banded together, yo’ve no more pity for a man than a wild hunger-maddened wolf.”

Related Characters: John Boucher (speaker), Nicholas Higgins
Page Number: 154
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 22 Quotes

“Mr. Thornton,” said Margaret, shaking all over with her passion, “go down and face them like a man. Save these poor strangers, whom you have decoyed here. Speak to your workmen as if they were human beings. Speak to them kindly. Don’t let the soldiers come in and cut down poor creatures who are driven mad. I see one there who is. If you have any courage or noble quality in you, go out and speak to them, man to man.”

Related Characters: Margaret Hale (speaker), John Thornton, John Boucher
Page Number: 175
Explanation and Analysis:
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John Boucher Character Timeline in North and South

The timeline below shows where the character John Boucher appears in North and South. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 19
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
...is a committee-man for the strike, and Margaret hears him arguing with his downtrodden neighbor, Boucher. Boucher is afraid that his wife will die before the strike concludes, and if she... (full context)
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
As the men leave, Boucher hopelessly calls the union “a worser tyrant than e’er th’ masters were.” He quotes the... (full context)
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
After the men leave, Bessy comments that Boucher is weak and unwise, but she pities him for all that. She thinks that if... (full context)
Chapter 21
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
...that Thornton looked anxious that evening. Margaret is glad of this—she thinks of the half-crazed Boucher compared to Thornton’s unflappable coolness. Mr. Hale thinks that Thornton has a greater depth of... (full context)
Chapter 22
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
...her from the room. Margaret, however, won’t leave Thornton’s side. Out the window, Margaret sees Boucher fighting his way to the front of the crowd. “Who is Boucher?” asks Thornton in... (full context)
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
...faces of the crowd, she sees the same desperation and rage she has seen in Boucher. Suddenly she notices boys in the back of the crowd preparing to throw their heavy... (full context)
Chapter 25
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
...led by thoughtful men who cared about law and order. Now, because of men like Boucher, the union’s work risks being undone. Boucher and her father had briefly come to blows... (full context)
Chapter 28
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
...could be persuaded. Hearing Thornton’s name, Higgins complains that Thornton ought to have made sure Boucher was punished for instigating violence. Margaret comments that the union doesn’t seem to have done... (full context)
Chapter 36
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
...consequently, he doesn’t know where he can expect to find work. Margaret asks him about Boucher’s remark that the union is the worst tyrant of all. Higgins replies that the union... (full context)
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
...a corpse on a door. They found the man drowned in the brook. It’s John Boucher. (full context)
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Religious Diversity and Conscience Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
One of the men asks Higgins to break the news to Mrs. Boucher, but he refuses to face her. Margaret asks Mr. Hale to go, but he is... (full context)
Chapter 37
Female Agency and Strength Theme Icon
Religious Diversity and Conscience Theme Icon
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
Margaret and Mr. Hale return the next day to check on the Bouchers. Margaret befriends and comforts some of the children, but Mr. Hale’s efforts to console the... (full context)
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
Personal Character, Environment, and Change Theme Icon
Higgins explains to Mr. Hale that he’s been seeking work for the sake of Boucher’s widow and children. “I reckon,” he explains, “I would ha guided Boucher to a better... (full context)
Chapter 39
Class Antagonism Theme Icon
...could not have acted as generously toward the children of a man who’d acted as Boucher did. He begs Higgins’ pardon. He asks Higgins if he will work at the mill,... (full context)