La Métamorphose

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Franz Kafka

This chapter seems to signal an abrupt departure from the plot.  Miss Pross and Jerry Cruncher are shopping, oblivious to the fact that Darnay has been rearrested.  However, Miss Pross screams when they enter a wine shop, convinced that a man leaving the shop is her long-lost brother Solomon Pross.  The man is, in fact, her brother; he tells her to be quiet, and they leave the wine shop together.  Jerry Cruncher has recognized Solomon Pross, but cannot remember how he knows him.  The trio is joined by Carton.  Carton recognizes Pross as John Barsad, the spy.  Carton forces Pross/Barsad to go with him to Tellson’s Bank.  Cruncher and Carton take Miss Pross back to her home, and then take Pross/Barsad with them to Tellson’s Bank.  When they reach the bank, Carton tells Mr. Lorry of Darnay’s rearrest. 

At this point in the story, Carton’s less admirable features become very useful.  His crude behavior, which made him unappealing in early chapters, is necessary, because he has no problem threatening Pross/Barsad to secure his help.  Roger Cly, the spy who previously worked with Pross/Barsad, is also in France, a fact that Carton knows but that is unknown to Pross/Barsad, who believes him to be dead.  It is at this time that Jerry Cruncher’s grave robbing becomes critical to the plot, as he is able to reveal that Cly’s coffin contained only stones and dirt.  Through intimidation and the revelation of this information, Carton is able to secure help from Pross/Barsad.  Pross/Barsad is a prison informant and, as such, has access to the prison, and Carton engages him in a private conversation regarding his plans to help Darnay. 

This chapter is when all of the divergent elements of the story finally begin to come together.  Plot points that seemed wholly unconnected to any activity in the main storyline, such as Cruncher being a grave robber, suddenly become essential to the story.

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