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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
At the appointed time Noah arrives to meet Fagin. Fagin explains to him the basic principles of his trade: to have trust in one another and to work for the benefit of each other. He tells him about the magical powers of number one. Noah has to think of himself and of Fagin as number one as both were equally important and depend on each other. Then he mentions that one his most trusted partners is facing charges against theft at the moment. Charley Bates arrives to tell Fagin about how Dodger was facing charges and might lose the case if identified.
Both Fagin and Bates, remember John Dawkins affectionately and feel regret for losing such a clever partner. When Bates feels dejected, Fagin lifts up his sagging spirits by assuring him that the Artful Dodger would manage to defend himself in court. However, he wants someone to go to the court to get the latest information on John Dawkins. Since it would prove risky for Fagin or Bates to venture out, they choose Noah to do the job. Young Claypole thus starts on his mission after disguising himself appropriately. Reaching the magisterial office, he spots Dodger when he appears on the docks. He hears the pickpocket talk defiantly. Even when he is identified by the witnesses and charged, he leaves the court with dignity. As soon as the Dodger is taken away by the officers, Noah returns to meet Bates at the appointed place. Both of them hurry towards the lodgings of Fagin, to relate the act of bravery of John Dawkins.
Noah starts understanding the nature of the underworld. Fagin tells Claypole of the consequences of crime and the possibility of reaching the gallows. He also informs him about the fate of Dodger. Ironically, Noah doesn't feel threatened by Fagin's talk. In fact, he starts admiring Fagin.
The arrest of Dodger is symbolic. It shows that it is not possible to dodge people for long and one has to face the consequences. Artful Dodger is one of the best creations of Dickens. Through his slang and language he provokes laughter. The court room scene where he faces the magistrate and answers his questions is amusing. He threatens the magistrate and the officers with legal suits. He informs them that he would consult his attorney who was busy at that moment as he was having his breakfast with the vice-president in the House of Commons. He regales the Court with such audacious statements.
The chapter opens with Nancy in a contemplative mood. She recollects the numerous incidents when she was taken into confidence by both Fagin and Bill Sikes while laying down their schemes. She feels sorry for them even though she is aware of their criminal deeds. She feels helpless to detach herself from their evil company. However, she decides to obey her conscience.
On Sunday night when the clock strikes eleven, Nancy looks agitated as Fagin and Sikes sit conversing with each other. Fagin is happy that Sikes has regained his health and is ready to do business. Suddenly they notice Nancy getting ready to leave the house. When Sikes questions her, she tells him that she would like to go out for a walk to get fresh air. He her as whimsical and forces her to stay indoors. When she pleads with him to allow her to go, he pins her down on the chair with force. Nancy tries to resist his hold but gives up when the clock strikes twelve. Sikes resumes his conversation with Fagin. He expresses concern about her health as he feels she had exhausted her energy looking after him by staying indoors all the while. Soon Nancy gets back to normal and sees Fagin to the door when he takes his leave. Fagin asks her the reason for her behavior and offers to take her in if Sikes was harsh with her. Nancy refuses his offer and closes the door on him.
As Fagin walks down to his house, he analyzes Nancy's strange behavior of late. When he suspects her of having a boyfriend, he decides to keep a watch on her and spot the object of her distraction. In his anger towards Sikes and desire for Nancy, Fagin plans his line of action for his benefit.
The chapter exposes the unequal partnership between Nancy and Bill Sikes. While Nancy serves Sikes with devotion and obeys his commands, Sikes abuses her and dictates terms to her. After performing her duties, when Nancy expresses a desire to go out for a stroll, Bill Sikes puts his foot down. He orders her to stay inside and physically arrests her movements. He does not care to understand her feelings.
The chapter forebodes evil for Nancy. By trying to help Oliver she is inviting trouble for herself and invoking the wrath of Sikes.
The chapter also brings to light Fagin's animosity towards Bill Sikes. Fagin tries to win over the affections of Nancy in order to get rid of Sikes. Fagin also suspects Nancy of shifting her loyalties and decides to spy on her activities.