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Free Study Guide-Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens-Online Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 19

Summary

On a wintry night Fagin dresses up to go and meet his partner, Bill Sikes. After the usual formalities, Fagin asks Sikes about their plan to rob a house in Chertsey. Sikes refuses to undertake the job as it would prove risky. However, he becomes tempted by Fagin's bargain and consents to perform the task along with his friend Toby Crackit. When Fagin offers to help him, Sikes asks him to get him a boy to assist them in their mission. Fagin suggests the name of Oliver and decides to send the boy with Nancy to Bill Sikes the next evening.

After the plan is decided, Fagin gets back to his den, relieved and happy. He decides to speak to Oliver the same night but changes his decision when he looks at the innocent face of the boy as he sleeps soundly.


Notes

This chapter initiates action. Fagin persuades Sikes to rob the house in Chertsey and offers Oliver to help them in their mission. The innocent boy becomes a pawn in the hands of the criminals. Fagin and Sikes put Oliver's life at stake for their own gain again. Fagin gives permission to his partner to shoot Oliver if he disobeys his orders. The robbery is more important to them than the life of Oliver. Unaware of the threat to his life the boy sleeps soundly. Dickens succeeds in painting a devilish portrait of Fagin as a character who derives pleasure in ruining Oliver.

CHAPTER 20

Summary

Oliver is given a new pair of shoes and told about his visit to the residence of Bill Sikes that night. Fagin arouses the curiosity of the boy but refrains from saying anything further to him. Oliver looks confused as he waits till dark to unearth the truth. Also, he is puzzled by the warning given by Fagin for disobeying Bill Sikes.

Later in the night, after the boy has recited his prayers, Nancy makes her appearance. Oliver questions her about the errand but fails to get a convincing reply from her. Nancy expresses her inability to help him, but says that by acting foolishly he not only will he be causing harm to himself but harming her too.

They soon arrive at their destination. Bill Sikes welcomes the boy only to threaten him a little while later. He explains the use of the pistol and tells him that he will use it against the boy if her dares to disobey his orders. Soon after supper, they stretch their limbs before embarking on their journey. Just before daylight Oliver gets up to find Nancy busy preparing breakfast. Sikes admonishes him for being late and asks him to have a quick breakfast. The boy gets ready in no time, appropriately dressed, to venture out on a rainy day, on a long journey.

Notes

An undercurrent of irony runs through this chapter. Fagin informs Oliver about his visit to Bill Sikes and then leaves him in a dimly lighted room with a book of crimes. Fagin's intention in giving the boy a book of crimes and trials is to evoke interest in Oliver about the criminal world. However, the book provokes a different kind of reaction in the child. Oliver weeps and utters a prayer for his deliverance.

Nancy's words of compassion give hope to Oliver. However, when she warns the boy that in his bid to escape he would be inviting trouble and bring misery to her, he feels he is in a dilemma. His instinct for survival persuades him to escape, while his generous heart refuses to cause injury to Nancy. Both Oliver and Nancy feel helpless to break away from their surroundings. Dickens, through his powerful description exposes the conflicting emotions raging within Nancy and Oliver.

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