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Free Study Guide for Great Expectations by Charles Dickens-Book Summary


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Mrs. Joe’s discovery is lost in the chaos of the arrival of soldiers at the door. To Pip’s relief, they have not come for him; instead, they need the help of the blacksmith to repair the handcuffs. Also, they tell of the search for fugitives in the area and Mr. Wopsle, Joe and Pip make plans to join the party of soldiers in their task.

After much searching they find the two fugitives, whom Pip has already encountered, engaged in a bloody fight. The one to whom Pip has spoken is named Magwitch, and Pip tries desperately but without words to let the man know he did not turn him in. Magwitch seems to understand, then tells the soldiers he was capturing the other prisoner to return him to the ship. Further, he confesses to Joe that he stole some food from his house. Joe is benevolent and Pip is relieved he is off the hook. The convicts are taken back to the Hulks.


This chapter brings out the good nature of Joe, who is always ready to help. The appealing humanity in him is evident even as he replies to the apologetic confession of Magwitch, saying, “God knows you’re welcome to it”, when Magwitch confesses to stealing food.

Joe is not the only benevolent person in this scene. The convict Magwitch performs his share of goodness on Christmas day when he admits to having stolen food from Joe’s house, rather than acknowledge Pip’s involvement. It shows his concern for Pip, because the little boy would be made responsible for the missing food. This confession can also be seen as the first installation of the convict’s gratitude toward Pip, a significant moment in the development of the novel.



In spite of his pangs of conscience, Pip does not reveal the truth to anyone, even to Joe. Upon returning to Mrs. Joe and the other guests, Joe tells the party about the fugitive’s confession, which arouses much excitement among the guests.


More than once the tenderness of Joe toward Pip moves the young boy to confess his involvement. But Pip is deeply ashamed of his deceit, and is afraid that a confession would mean eternal suspicion. He is sure that if he admits the truth to Joe, he will be suspect anytime something is misplaced. As for Mrs. Joe, Pip feels no guilt at having deceived her.

This chapter has a small but ironic moment when, as Pip trudges overcome with fatigue to his bed, he hears everyone giving his or her own version of how the convict must have broken into the house to steal the pork pie.



Till Pip is old enough to be apprenticed to Joe as a blacksmith, he attends school at Mr. Wopsle’s great aunt’s evening school. Here he meets Biddy, the old woman’s granddaughter. Biddy looks after the old woman and her little shop.

At home, Joe is very impressed with Pip’s progress in education, and Pip makes a special point to teach Joe everything he knows.

One evening, about a year after the incident with the convicts, Mrs. Joe returns from shopping radiating with happiness. She tells both Pip and Joe that a rich old lady, Miss Havisham, has asked Mr. Pumblechook to send her a boy to wait upon her and that Pumblechook had suggested Pip. Pip is cleaned and made presentable and Mr. Pumblechook takes Pip to meet Miss Havisham.


Joe’s paternal pride in Pip’s educational accomplishments is evident in this chapter, and Pip’s devotion to his best friend is exhibited in the way he calmly teaches Joe everything he has learned. Joe is happy to be taught by Pip, but asks his assistance in keeping the learning secret, since Mrs. Joe would not approve. Joe speaks highly of Mrs. Joe despite her cruelty, saying he prefers to be “inconvenienced” rather than assert his independence on his wife by being educated.

The monumentally important invitation from Miss Havisham is at this time a simple opportunity. Mrs. Joe is convinced the position will make Pip’s entire future and works to make him presentable. Pip, for his part, is nonplussed and a little confused about the entire ordeal, but he readily agrees.

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