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

CHAPTER 21

Summary

It is cloudy day when the twosome start on their mission. The day breaks when they turn into Bethnal Green Road. Slowly London wakes up to activity. The traffic increases and the market gets crowded. Bill Sikes drags Oliver along through the maze and chides him for his inability to keep pace. When they reach the corner of Hyde park, Sikes asks for a lift from a cart man. Posing as father and son they travel in the vehicle through long winding roads till they alight near a public house. From here they walk along gardens and houses to reach Hampton. In this town they stop their journey to have supper at a public house. While Sikes prepares to smoke the third pipe after dinner, Oliver dozes off due to exhaustion. It is dark when the boy is woken up by his companion. Sikes once again manages to get a lift on a cart and is taken to Halliford. Reaching the place they both alight on a lonely road only to walk further into the darkness. After crossing a bridge they halt near a lone dilapidated house which looks deserted. Slowly, Sikes opens the door to enter the eerie lodgings.


Notes

Oliver and Sikes start on their expedition on a dark morning when sharp winds blow and the clouds bring down rain. The gloomy atmosphere enhances the gravity of the situation. The boy has no choice but to be dragged and led away by the crude house burglar who threatens to shoot him if he shows resistance. The vulnerability of Oliver is pitted against the ruthlessness of Sikes.

The long journey through streets and fields to Chertsey is like the hazardous journey of life that Oliver passes through. There is more struggle to undergo and little respite.

CHAPTER 22

Summary

Voices are heard as they set their feet in passage. Soon the man who posed as a waiter in the public house at Saffron Hill ushers them in. They walk to a low, dark room scattered with broken furniture to encounter a smartly dressed, middle-sized man named Crackit. After exchanging courtesies with him, Sikes and Oliver partake of a frugal meal and drink a glass of liquor. Exhausted and sleepy they wake up to prepare themselves before embarking on their real mission. It is dark and foggy when they cross the bridge to reach Chertsey. They walk through the deserted streets of the town to arrive at a lonely house. They climb over the wall which surroundings the house. When Oliver realizes the object of their mission as robbery, he requests Sikes to spare him from committing a crime. In spite of his protests, he is dragged to the house and pushed into it through the open shutters. He is given orders by Sikes to walk up to the door and open it for them to enter. However, when Oliver enters the house he decides to wake up the members of the family to alert them of the theft. Thus he walks up the stairs despite warning signals from Sikes and Toby. In his fright he drops the lantern and arouses the servants of the house. Soon there is pandemonium in the house. The boy becomes the target of a bullet and before he realizes his condition he is dragged out of the house through the window by Sikes.

Notes

The chapter reveals the element of fear and danger involved in crime. Though Oliver is suspicious about the intentions of Bill Sikes, he is not aware of the nature of the crime or his role in it. When they reach the garden wall of the house, the boy fears the worst and requests them to spare him from stealing. No one heeds his plea and he is forced to be a partner in the crime. Oliver looks puny and pitiable in front of the monsters of evil and he becomes a victim of their cruel actions.

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