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

CHAPTER 39

Summary

The readers are taken to the house of William Sikes in this chapter. The housebreaker is shown lying down on a bed, wounded and ill. He is in a different house from the one in which he was living before the Chertsey expedition. He curses Nancy but, when she faints due to exhaustion, calls for help. Fagin enters the room at that moment. Sikes along with Fagin, Bates, and Dawkins brings her back to consciousness. They also lay on the table food and drinks. Sikes admonishes Fagin for neglecting him for so long. Then he asks Fagin to give him some money. After haggling, Fagin agrees to give him three pounds four and six pence. Nancy goes along with him to collect the dues. As she waits for Fagin to get her the money Monks enters the house. Fagin excuses himself for ten minutes and starts his conversation with Monks. When he takes his guest upstairs, Nancy follows them and hears their secret. Soon she takes leave of Fagin after taking the money from him. Out in the open she gives vent to her feelings. After recovering her spirits, she reaches her house and hands over they money to Sikes. The next day the housebreaker looks cheerful while Nancy looks anxious and pale. That night she mixes laudanum in Sike's drinks to make him fall off to a sound sleep. A little while later she leaves the house to undertake the long journey to a family hotel in Hyde Park. Reaching the place, she makes requests to meet Miss Maylie. The female attendants of the place cast doubtful glances at her as she waits to meet Rose.


Notes

This chapter reveals the true nature of Nancy. Though she helps the criminals in their work, she understands the evil nature of their business. She overhears the conversation between Monks and Fagin and feels sorry for Oliver. She shows her helplessness and concern for the boy by giving vent to her feelings. Thus she stores a tender heart inside a tough exterior.

She is faithful to Sikes and attends to all his needs without paying any heed to his abuses. Dickens has succeeded in showing Nancy as an unfortunate woman, trapped into the world of crime, but possessing a tender heart and a courageous spirit.

CHAPTER 40

Summary

Nancy waits impatiently to meet Rose. When the young girl comes out, she apologizes for the delay and for the behavior of her servants. Her polite manners capture the heart of the woman from the underworld. Nancy confesses being the culprit who kidnapped Oliver from Pentonville. After relating her plight, she informs Rose about Monks and his conversation with Fagin which she overheard. Monks had promised to give money to Fagin for kidnapping Oliver and for making him a thief. He had mentioned the proof of identity for the boy to be at the bottom of the river. He was also happy about getting hold of Oliver's share of the property and depriving his half brother of his rights. Monks seemed to know Rose as well since he had mentioned her name and address.

With these revelations Nancy prepares to take her leave. Rose persuades her to give up her harsh life and promises to help her in the future. However, Nancy expresses her inability to leave Sikes and her helplessness to get out of her evil circumstances. She also rejects the offer of monetary help from Rose. Thus overburdened with guilt and saddened by her plight, Nancy leaves for her own world after informing Miss Maylie about the place and time she would be available to meet them if they found it necessary.

Notes

Nancy risks her life in order to help Oliver. After drugging Sikes, she travels a long distance to meet Rose and give her the information she had heard from Monks about Oliver. Though she is unlike Rose in her looks, status, and manner, she shares with the other young woman a natural goodness and love for Oliver. Against Rose's delicate features, dignified manner and respectability, Nancy looks pitiable in her haggard appearance and desperation.

Both the women have doubtful identities. However, while Rose is lucky to have found a guardian like Mrs. Maylie and a friend like Harry, Nancy is unfortunate in life and love. The chapter thus unfurls a moral tale. There are many like Rose and Nancy in the world and their fate is determined by those who can make or mar their life.

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