The Squeers family, including schoolmaster Wackford Squeers, his wife, son Wackford Junior and daughter Fanny, are in charge of Dotheboys Hall, an orphanage for unwanted boys. At this school, the orphan boys are treated horribly -- they're beaten, taught nothing and practically starved. Mr. and Mrs. Squeers keep the young Squeers boy fat to make it appear to the outside world that everyone at the school has plenty to eat. Wackford and his wife also spoil their son with gifts intended for their wards. Nicholas Nickleby, an orphan, reaches his breaking point eventually, canes Mr. Squeers and runs away from the orphanage, taking with him a handicapped boy.