Free Study Guide for Great Expectations by Charles Dickens-Book Summary
Most evident and remarkable about this chapter is Pipís concern for the convict and the convictís gratitude towards Pip. A friendship is forged which will go on to shape Pipís entire future.
Pip rushes home, certain that his theft of the pork pie has been discovered. To his relief, the crime is still unknown. Mrs. Joe is busy arranging for the grand Christmas dinner to which Uncle Pumblechook, Mr. Wopsle and Mr. and Mrs. Hubble have been invited.
Mrs. Joe customarily serves Pip the worst food and the smallest portions, commenting on what a burden he is. Joe is helpless to intercede on behalf of his little friend; instead, he tries to sneak him larger portions of the Christmas meal. During the meal, Mrs. Joe goes to get the pork pie. Full of fear, Pip decides to run for the door. When he pulls it open, he is stunned to see a party of officers holding handcuffs out to him.
Though the scene is rife with comic incidents (Joe described as a scarecrow, Mr. Pumblechook taking a swig of the watered-down brandy) it also contains some heart-wrenching drama. Pip is made to feel like an unwanted responsibility and is forced to express his constant gratitude to Mrs. Joe. For her part, she simply abuses Pip and then insists he flatter her with praise and thanks. Joe does his best to counter his wifeís dour disposition and horrid treatment in the only way he is able: he heaps ladling spoonfuls of gravy into Pipís plate. This sweet, pathetic gesture on Joeís part once again brings out the love between him and the young boy. Both have experienced the pain of Mrs. Joeís neglect. They are in this together.
The whole time, Pipís mind is preoccupied with impending doom. Mrs. Joe will certainly find out about his theft, and he will certainly pay. The suspense through the meal is incredible; when she rises to get the pie, Pipís fear is palpable. It carries him to the door consumed only by flight. And the shock of being greeted by outstretched hands holding handcuffs is a dramatic pay-off only a master storyteller could have envisioned.
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. 09 May 2017