Hard times book two
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Although there is no literal explosion, the events of this chapter suggest that some of the tension and conflict building up to this point in the novel have reached a kind of climax. The "robbery" clearly has been orchestrated by Tom giving evidence that his upbringing has not produced a strong moral character. The fact that Stephen is in the wrong place at the wrong time reinforces the stereotype the life is "awlus a muddle" for the working class. Louisa has been tempted by Harthouse who is portrayed in this chapter as a character content to drift along without any moral backbone. Dickens uses the metaphor of gunpowder and explosion as a device to emphasize how the events in the lives of the characters have created a tension that must be released.