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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - Barron's Booknotes
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After the haunting atmosphere of Satis House, Pip's home
seems more than ever a slapstick world, where people act out
their habitual quirks: Mrs. Joe knocks Pip up-side the wall, and
Pumblechook, looking fishy and bloated, gives Pip sums as a
warm-up before grilling him about Miss Havisham.

Why does Pip lie about what he saw? Some readers believe
Pip's cool, competent lies prove he's morally flawed. Some say
he instinctively protects that magical other world from being
soiled by his own world, separating the beautiful from the
common. He says he's afraid these people won't understand
Miss Havisham-as though he understands her completely

The story Pip substitutes is just as incredible. His imagination
is impressive; this isn't a cliched description, but one full of
details so wild-and so precise-that you almost feel he couldn't
have made it up. For example, notice the cupboard full of
pistols, jam, and pills-they don't go together at all, and yet he
makes you see them clearly. The final touch is when Pip
doesn't lie about the one detail, the candlelight, which
Pumblechook can verify-so the whole story is accepted.

But Pip does regret lying to Joe-as before, he feels a different
moral obligation towards him than towards Mrs. Joe. While
Pumblechook and Mrs. Joe look greedy and bad, plotting to
cash in on Pip's good fortune, Joe looks pathetic, trying to join
in their discussion. This time, Pip decides to admit to Joe that
he has lied. He gets him alone in the forge (by the fire, Joe's
symbol) and blurts out the truth. He goes even farther and
pours out his heart about how Estella made him feel. Poor
lonely kid-he has no confidante but Joe, who doesn't
understand what he's talking about.

But Joe's advice to Pip zooms in on the heart of the matter:
"Lies is lies." He gets muddled, though, which gives Pip room
to become skeptical. So when Joe's advice-that Pip should
stick to his own kind-gets hard to take, Pip pulls back, and
looks around critically, taking Estella's perspective. The final
sentence foreshadows how inextricably Pip is bound to Miss
Havisham's world already.

In chapter 10 Dickens attacks Mrs. Wopsle's school in more
detail than in chapter 7; the tone has changed to harsher satire.
Now Pip is more critical of his surroundings, and, anxious to
get ahead, he's impatient with anything that holds him back.
Biddy, who seemed merely a sloppy child before, now appears
to be the only person with any sense in the place. Pip's
arrangement to get extra lessons from her sets him apart from
the other boys, who avoid education like the plague.

When Pip stops by the local pub to pick up Joe, his attention is
caught by a stranger. Though the man appears harmless,
talking about mundane things like turnips, he seems to threaten
Pip. His one-eyed glance looks like he's aiming a gun, and he
rubs his leg meaningfully (recalling the convict's leg-iron). The
stranger's talk keeps linking back to Pip's meeting with the
convict. For the crowning touch, the stranger nonchalantly stirs
his drink with the same file Pip stole.

Amid the adults in the pub, only Pip understands what the
stranger is referring to. But when the stranger gives him a
shilling wrapped up in paper-two one-pound notes-Pip doesn't
understand why. He doesn't even wonder about it, but allows
Mrs. Joe to take the money and set it aside. He's haunted again,
however, by the memory of the convict.

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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - Barron's Booknotes

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