No need, O Steerforth, to have said, when we last spoke together, in that hour which I so little deemed to be our parting-hour – no need to have said, ‘Think of me at my best!’ I had done that ever; and could I change now, looking on this sight!
This entire chapter, as well as its predecessor, is extremely traumatic for David (as well as the reader). Not only does he find the dead body of his childhood friend who he loved more then daylight itself, but he had to deal with his painful encounter with Steerforth’s family afterwards, as well as keep it a secret from the Peggottys. The chapter’s name actually expresses this, being titled, “The new Wound, and the old.”
One thing I thought of while reading how David found Steerforth’s body, was my encounters with (and sorry for using an irreverent term) bodies of those who passed away. Every time, they would be well dressed, well cleaned by a mortuary, and a few times, even looking like they were smiling. Compare this with how David found Steerforth. Since he was struggling in the storm, its safe to assume that his clothes were rugged, his hair was messed, he probably looked like he was in pain, and was sprawled out on the beach. After not being able to speak a word to the one that he loved so much all these years, this is the way that David is reunited with him, and also, the manner in which he must pay his final respects.
During his encounter with Steerforth’s Mother and Mrs. Dartle, he also very briefly makes the point that nobody was asking about how he felt about Steerforth’s unfortunate death or if he was okay at all. Not only does nobody seem to care about him, but he is immediately tasked with:
-Being patient around Steerforth’s Mother
-Getting everyone packed for Australia
-Pay off Mr. Micawber’s debts
-Dealing with the fact that his wife just passed away
-Get ready to travel abroad
-Telling everybody about Steerforth and keeping his death a secret
-Pay off MORE of Mr. Micawber’s debts
-Hide his money from Mr. Micawber and pretend to not know him in front of Debt Collectors
Poor, poor, poor David