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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - Barron's Booknotes
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CHAPTERS 27 & 28

How have these new experiences affected Pip? When Joe
Gargery comes to visit, we can measure the change in Pip.

Now we realize how Pip has neglected Joe and Biddy. Joe's
letter to Pip (written by Biddy) is strained and polite; in her
private P.S., Biddy sounds wary of Pip's new attitudes. And Pip
does admit to mixed feelings towards Joe's visit. Pip's
sensitivity seems to be two-edged. He's afraid of others
(especially despicable Drummle and his own cocky servant
boy) looking down on him because of Joe. But he also seems
afraid that Joe will disapprove of his extravagant furnishings
and unnecessary servant.

Pip sits in his room, nerves on edge, listening to Joe coming
upstairs with maddening slowness. Joe bursts in with glowing
good humor at first, but something begins to confuse him; as
before with Miss Havisham, he clings to his hat brim and his
dialect sounds strong. He starts to talk in circles, and he
formally calls Pip "sir." Pip irritably watches Joe fiddling with
his hat, which constantly falls off the mantle; he wonders why
Joe wears those uncomfortable collars and why his manners are
so bad. (Haven't you done this in a stressful situation-focusing
on irrelevant details?) Yet Pip himself is to blame for making
Joe ill at ease. When he criticizes Joe's formality, Joe's
wordless glance in reply reminds us suddenly of his natural
dignity. Joe delivers a message from Miss Havisham: Estella is
home and wishes to see Pip. Pip suddenly feels grateful to Joe
(and embarrassed that he needs a reason to feel grateful). He
tries to treat Joe better, but with simple eloquence Joe backs
out of Pip's new life, where he knows he doesn't belong. Pip
feels moved, but, just like the morning he left home, he runs
after Joe too late. Why do you think Pip treats Joe like this?
(How would you behave in similar circumstances?) Some
readers claim Pip is being a snob. Others say he's still insecure
in his new social position.

Joe, Biddy, Miss Havisham, and Estella have now been woven
back into the plot, in the next chapter the persistent memory of
the convict returns, too. Preparing to go home, Pip's at a weak
moment, selfishly concerned about what kind of impression he
will make. Then when he gets to the coach, he learns he has to
ride with a pair of convicts-and one of them is the man with
the file who brought Pip money at the pub. Perhaps because
he's a snob-or because he's becoming socially refined-Pip is
disgusted by their crude manners, though he also shows us how
pitiful they are. The atmosphere's cold and rainy (this seems to
be typical "convict weather"). Forced to listen to the convicts'
conversation, Pip learns that the one-eyed convict brought him
that money long ago from "his" convict. The one-eyed man
would never recognize Pip now, but Pip's so terrified by this
connection that he jumps off the coach early and walks the rest
of the way.

When he gets to the hotel in town Pip discovers he has another
"patron"- Pumblechook, who has been telling everyone that
he's responsible for Pip's rise. Pumblechook isn't as shameful a
patron as the convict, but he's more galling, because his
motives are so obvious and selfish.

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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - Barron's Booknotes

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