Yes, behind again, but still chugging along. Note: if you're behind too, hang in there, especially if you're stuck in the first six chapters. It gets easier. And better!
That said, this section of six raised a question in my mind. We know Dickens serialized this novel for publication. With Great Expectations, it was three chapters at a time. But this section of six ended oddly, with chapter 1 of book 2. The last chapter of book 1 had that tantalizing cliffhanger-y sense to it, and I have to wonder: did Dickens publish three chapters at a time, except for the end of each book section? It makes sense to me to do that. Going forward, let's assume 3 chapters a week, unless we hit the end of one of the books. So next week, let's do five chapters, which will get us through chapter six, and the week following will have six chapters, but the week after that only four, as it reaches the end of book 2. Make sense? I'll remind you again next week.
It seems in this section that Dickens is taking particular aim at the lives of children in Dickensian times. The description of Charley Hexam's schooling is beyond sad--although thank goodness for the interest of Mr. Headstone (what a name!!). That said, Mr. Headstone? Don't be such a snob. Charley should be very proud of his sister and free to visit her whenever he likes. Especially if he can talk her out of living with the Person of the House. Lizzie's life has definitely not improved after Gaffer's suspicious death. But at least she can find a way to survive. The life of orphans or abandoned children is chilling, and it seems like Dickens is very angry in these sections (and who wouldn't be?). By the time Mrs. Boffin finds little Johnny, you can't help but wish she'd just open up her own orphanage and take them all in.
Mr. Dickens also has some very tart commentary on the people who beg for money, and he notes they come from all levels of society:
"These are the corporate beggars. But there are, besides, the individual beggars; and how does the heart of the Secretary fail when he has to cope with them!...Among these correspondents are several daughters of general officers, long accustomed to every luxury of life (except spelling), who little thought, when their gallant fathers waged war in the Peninsula, that they would ever have to appeal to those whom Providence, in its inscrutable wisdom, has blessed with untold gold, and from among whom they select the name of Nicodemus Boffin, Esquire, for a maiden effort in this wise, understand that he has such a heart as never was."
Thank goodness for the mysterious Mr. Rokesmith arriving just in time to play intermediary, or I fear Mr. Boffin would soon be out of money altogether.
And what, exactly, is Mr. Wegg searching for??