He thinks he recognizes something in Oliver's face, but cannot put his finger on it. For the workhouse, the undertaker's bill is a major budget item due to the large number of deaths. Bumble is shocked and runs to transfer the horrific news to the board. The New Poor Law Amendment of 1834, to which in part Dickens wrote Oliver Twist as a response, did indeed place a premium on conserving resources in caring for the poor, and provided workhouses with several choices for menus, all of which involved very limited portions. The paupers are restricted to a pitifully small portion of food, and other callous measures are put into practice.
The gentleman turns and sees Oliver running away. Bumble beats a few of the boys. Noah calls for help, and and Mrs. Noah becomes increasingly jealous of Oliver's speedy advancement. The casket is buried atop numerous others in a shallow grave, and the ceremony is very brief. Give it a little gruel if it is.
Sowerberry serves Oliver the leftovers that the dog has declined to eat. Good-hearted, and kind, he never loses his sense of morality or kindness. The assumption on the part of the middle-class characters that the lower classes are naturally base, criminal, and filthy serves to support their vision of themselves as a clean and morally upright social group. When Sowerberry returns home, he beats Oliver, and locks him up again. They had been strangers too long. Of course, there is a dramatic irony here, for it will be revealed, later, that Oliver is in fact the son of a gentleman, and of higher social station than anyone in the Sowerberry home.
His mother asks to see him and then dies. They talked of hope and comfort. Monks has been pursuing Oliver all along in the hopes of ensuring that his half-brother is deprived of his share of the family inheritance. She had walked some distance, for her shoes were worn to pieces; but where she came from, or where she was going to, nobody knows. According to the 1834 Poor Law, the poor and homeless were provided a place to live and received food.
They chafed her breast, hands, and temples; but the blood had stopped for ever. Mann, an entrepreneur who prospers by starving the children and pocketing most of the allowance dispensed for their sustenance. Fang that he saw two other boys stealing. The servants allow him in and the niece of the house owner orders him upstairs. For a long time after it was ushered into this world of sorrow and trouble, by the parish surgeon, it remained a matter of considerable doubt whether the child would survive to bear any name at all; in which case it is somewhat more than probable that these memoirs would never have appeared; or, if they had, that being comprised within a couple of pages, they would have possessed the inestimable merit of being the most concise and faithful specimen of biography, extant in the literature of any age or country. They chafed her breast, hands, and temples; but the blood had stopped forever. Fagin asks if they worked hard that morning.
The result was, that, after a few struggles, Oliver breathed, sneezed, and proceeded to advertise to the inmates of the workhouse the fact of a new burden having been imposed upon the parish, by setting up as loud a cry as could reasonably have been expected from a male infant who had not been possessed of that very useful appendage, a voice, for a much longer space of time than three minutes and a quarter. His request so shocks the authorities that they offer five pounds as a reward to anyone who will take Oliver off of their hands. Fagin is tried and hung for his crimes. That very evening, the board in control of workhouse affairs is meeting, and Oliver is promptly summoned to face that august body. Oliver watches with horror as Charley and the Dodger sneak up behind the man and steal his handkerchief.
The only fact essential to the reader is that the events occur in a workhouse, an institution common to most localities. Give it a little gruel if it is. . If he could have known that he was an orphan, left to the tender mercies of churchwardens and overseers, perhaps he would have cried the louder. Oliver decides that he is not at all fond of the undertaking business. The method chosen is, naturally, regulated by the overall organization of the book, and there are many possible solutions.
The fact is, that there was considerable difficulty in inducing Oliver to take upon himself the office of respiration,—a troublesome practice, but one which custom has rendered necessary to our easy existence; and for some time he lay gasping on a little flock mattress, rather unequally poised between this world and the next: the balance being decidedly in favour of the latter. Mann before they then join in a demonstration of mutual hypocrisy as he partakes of her gin. Fagin suggests that Oliver be used in this job. Oliver devours the food as though it were a great feast. Now, if, during this brief period, Oliver had been surrounded by careful grandmothers, anxious aunts, experienced nurses, and doctors of profound wisdom, he would most inevitably and indubitably have been killed in no time.