‘Nobody’s Story’ by Charles Dickens

Nobody’s Story by Charles Dickens, 1853

The magic trick:

Hammering home a morality tale with a heavy hand

Who’s story is this? Nobody.

Who’s nobody? The average working man.

This story is very old but very relevant. The common man’s opinions are disregarded. His needs are manipulated. But of course the story makes clear that he is key to society.

The story shows that. Then the narrator comes in and rather dramatically reinforces that point in the final three paragraphs just in case you missed it the first time. Yes, there’s a pretty high soapbox. Yes, it’s pretty holier than thou. But hey, it’s Christmas time. What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love and understanding, anyway? And that’s quite a trick on Dickens’s part.

The selection:

If you were ever in the Belgian villages near the field of Waterloo, you will have seen, in some quiet little church, a monument erected by faithful companions in arms to the memory of Colonel A, Major B, Captains C, D and E, Lieutenants F and G, Ensigns H, I and J, seven non-commissioned officers, and one hundred and thirty rank and file, who fell in the discharge of their duty on the memorable day. The story of Nobody is the story of the rank and file of the earth. They bear their share of the battle; they have their part in the victory; they fall; they leave no name but in the mass. The march of the proudest of us, leads to the dusty way by which they go. O! Let us think of them this year at the Christmas fire, and not forget them when it is burnt out.

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