Father Must Have
Gone Down to the Booth, Sir

"Father Must Have Gone Down to the Booth, Sir" by Charles S. Reinhart (1844-1896). 13.3 cm wide by 10. cm high (horizontally mounted, with text above and below). Opening of Book One, Chapter Six, "Sleary's Horsemanship," in Charles Dickens's Hard Times, which appeared in American Household Edition, 1870. P. 133.

With Bounderby and Gradgrind, we have followed Sissy Jupe up the dimly-lit, narrow staircase to her room in The Pegasus's Arms, but Signor Jupe is out. Beside Sissy on the floor is the open trunk which has produced the look of "terror" on her face and the anguished gesture. Above the bed hangs a peculiar object which reference to the text reveals to be Signor Jupe's "white night-cap, embellished with two peacock's feathers and a pugtail bolt upright" (Ch. 6) which he uses in performance and apparently in real life.

Bounderby, the Bully of Humility, has his back towards us, so that his only salient feature is his unkempt hair. Gradgrind's misshapen, bald skull (reminiscent of the skulls of the precursors of homo erectus), bristling eyebrows, and hooked nose impart a bird-like quality in plate 3 and there is, as yet, no softening sign of compassion for the girl whose father has abandoned her in this public-house rented room exhibiting the minimum essentials of three chairs and a bed. Positioned strategically between the adults on the left and the child on the right is the "battered and mangy old hair trunk" which once contained a portion of the clown's wardrobe. He has abandoned it, too, and is travelling light, so that the empty trunk becomes an objective correlative for Sissy herself.

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

Created 10 October 2002

Last modified 6 January 2020