By Elizabeth Gaskell

The main characters of this story are Mr. and Mrs. Hodgson, and Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins. Mr. Hodgson works for The Examiner, a democratic and intelligent newspaper, and Mr. Jenkins works for The Flying post, a respectable and bigoted newspaper. These two families live in the same apartment building as each other, and they do not get along. It is Christmas Eve, and the wives are preparing for dinner the next day. Mr. Jenkins wants a lavish dinner, and Mr. Hodgson would enjoy a simple dinner. The Jenkins are rich, and can afford more than the Hodgsons, because the Hodgsons have a little baby boy. Mrs. Jenkins has a nice lace cap, and a cat, but she is jealous of Mrs. Hodgson for having a baby, and would give up the nice things for one. Mrs. Hodgson hates Mrs. Jenkins cat, and Mrs. Jenkins finds Mrs. Hodgson beating her cat. Mrs. Jenkins scorns Mrs. Hodgson for doing such a thing to a poor and innocent cat. Mrs. Hodgson prepares a dinner to take to her husband, though it is very cold outside, and they end up not being hungry. Mrs. Hodgson's mother sends her rare sausages and her love for Christmas. Soon, Mrs. Hodgson discovers that her baby is not breathing right, and realizes he has coup, something that can kill him. The house maid calls the doctor, but in efforts to save her baby, Mrs. Hodgson asks Mrs. Jenkins for her hot water to bathe her son. At first, Mrs. Jenkins denies her request, but ends up giving her the water in the end. Mrs. Jenkins helps Mrs. Hodgson with the baby, and he becomes better. On Christmas morning, Mrs. Jenkins' cat eats the sausages she was to prepare for Christmas dinner. Out of kindness, Mrs. Hodgson gives the Jenkins her mother's sausages, since she believes they are better than what they would have eaten before. The Jenkins invites them to Christmas dinner, and they accept. They realize that they have wasted time quarreling with each other, as they have similar interests, and enjoy each others company. They message of this story is to make friends before Christmas, as your day will be merrier.

What Men Live By Summary