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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - Barron's Booknotes
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CHAPTERS 14 & 15

The direct, honest, quiet tone with which Pip begins this
section shows a new attitude-grudging surrender. He describes
his previous, contented vision of home, only to show how
shame replaced it. He doesn't want to analyze why he feels this
way; he just accepts the grim, stifling finality of his lot in life.
Miserably, he hallucinates, seeing Estella's scornful face
peering in at the forge, and the strains of their song, "Old
Clem," mock him.

But Pip never breathes a word of his discontent to Joe. It's
typical of Pip to hide his emotions, but here he does it for kind
reasons. He won't take credit for this, however, placing all the
emphasis instead upon Joe's sterling qualities. Desperately
pursuing education himself, he takes Joe out to the Battery on a
Sunday to teach him to read, but he says he only wanted to
raise Joe so he wouldn't be so embarrassing. Pip focuses on the
worst sides of his own motives, and therefore he can't
appreciate that he is, in fact, being good.

Whereas Joe enjoys these Sundays, restless Pip only notices the
moving things-sails, clouds, sunlight-and longs for Satis
House. He tries to convince Joe that he owes Miss Havisham a
visit, but Joe gives some more of his hard-to-take advice-stay
away. As usual, Joe rambles on and dilutes his good sense with
nonsense, so Pip stops taking him seriously and decides to do
what he wants to do anyway.

Now that he's aware of the common, ugly elements of his life,
it's appropriate that Pip introduces the forge's day-laborer,
Dolge Orlick. Pip makes no bones about hating Orlick. Orlick
has always been resentful, malicious, and hostile to Pip. To us,
his slouching surly manner shows out-and-out badness, next to
which Pip looks upright, no matter how bad he thinks he is.
When Mrs. Joe objects to Joe giving Orlick a holiday, Orlick
almost gleefully pitches into an argument with her. Joe tries to
ward it off, but they won't even hear him (notice the
parentheses around his speeches). They both relish the fight,
and Mrs. Joe hams it up, calling on Joe to defend her honor.
Against his kind nature, Joe responds. He appears strong and
manly here, taking care of Orlick in no time, while Mrs. Joe
faints from excitement. (Compare this fight to Pip's with the
pale young gentleman).

Right after this brawl, Pip returns to Miss Havisham's to find it
unchanged-except in the most important respect: Sarah Pocket
answers the door because Estella has gone abroad, farther from
Pip than ever. Feeling let down, Pip wanders home, so listless
that Wopsle can even talk him into an evening at

NOTE: The play they're reading is George Barnwell, an 18th-
century play by George Lillo about a London apprentice who
fell in love with a wicked girl who made him kill his uncle for
money. Pip doesn't notice it, but it's apt that he play this

Going home later, Pip and Wopsle meet Orlick, a menacing
figure drifting in the shadows. Pip's old secret is evoked by the
distant firing of the prison ship's guns. Immediately afterwards,
Pip learns that somebody-convicts, it's suspected-broke into
their house and attacked Mrs. Joe. Though she'll live, her well-
meaning but wrong-minded energy has been unnaturally
snuffed out.

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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - Barron's Booknotes

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