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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - Barron's Booknotes
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CHAPTERS 12 & 13

Pip's strong sense of guilt and his vivid imagination torment
him for days, as he wonders how he'll be punished for beating
up the pale young gentleman. When he returns to Miss
Havisham's, however, the incident isn't even mentioned, fitting
in with the illogical pace of events at Satis House.

For the next eight to ten months, Pip becomes a regular at Miss
Havisham's, going there every other day to push her around her
rooms in a wheel chair. Though this is a relatively short span of
time, it comes at a stage in Pip's life-he's probably about
thirteen-when he's changing rapidly every day. At this
vulnerable age, he's open to new influences. It's always been
planned for Pip to become Joe's apprentice when he reaches the
proper age (usually fourteen), but now, infected by what he has
heard from his sister and Pumblechook, he hopes Miss
Havisham will change all that. When Miss Havisham asks him
perfectly normal questions about his future plans, he replies
vaguely. Passively, shyly, he's waiting for an offer. He's also
passive around Estella. She continues to be contrary and cold,
but Pip doesn't ask himself why she treats him this way. He
pretends not to overhear Miss Havisham whispering to her,
"Break their hearts!" While Pip takes this all very seriously,
Dickens wants to make us see how grotesque it is, so he throws
in a glimpse of Pip, Miss Havisham, and Estella singing Joe's
song from the forge, a lugubrious chant that's comically,
weirdly, out of place.

Pip's growing more thin-skinned and sensitive, too. He stops
confiding in Joe, choosing Biddy instead-hoping she won't
give him the kind of honest tough advice Joe does. Pip also
can't bear to hear Pumblechook and Mrs. Joe discuss his future-
even though (or perhaps because) they echo Pip's own hopes.

Finally, Miss Havisham offers to help Pip with his
apprenticeship papers ("articles"). Notice that in this
conversation, Pip doesn't quote what he says, as if he's too
upset to hear himself speak. When he brings this news home,
Mrs. Joe works off her anxiety by scrubbing Pip and Joe out of
the house. It's a familiar comic scene, and yet now it doesn't
seem so funny. For once, even Mrs. Joe is in tune with Pip's
worry.



All dressed up, the Gargerys look ludicrous-to Pip's mortified
eyes-when they go to town the next day. Luckily, Mrs. Joe
wasn't invited to Satis House, so she stays at Pumblechook's,
but Joe is bad enough. He's completely out of his element at
Satis House, fiddling with his hat in his hands, walking on the
tips of his toes. Pip, who's used to this weird house by now,
doesn't describe it again; if Joe looks foolish, we must recall
what there is around there to amaze him. Joe's dialect comes
out unusually strong, and he addresses himself to Pip as though
he can't face Miss Havisham. Miss Havisham doesn't seem to
mind-she can see how good Joe is-but Estella hangs over the
back of her chair, laughing silently at Pip. He's embarrassed for
Joe, and embarrassed of Joe, both at the same time. Miss
Havisham acts quite sane, asking considerate questions and
presenting Pip with a nice little sum of money; Joe is the one
who looks crazy here. This reflects Pip's own sympathies at the
moment.

That painful scene is followed by simpler comedy, when Joe
teasingly hands over Pip's present to Mrs. Joe. For all her
plotting, she's perfectly content with the twenty-five pounds,
but Pip isn't. Feeling bitter and disappointed, he focuses on
how offensive Pumblechook is, and he viciously satirizes the
justices in the Town Hall who certify the apprenticeship. Pip's
sour mood continues as the family goes out to celebrate;
feeling so alienated, he can't dramatize the lively scene, he can
only describe it with loathing. He ends the chapter on a
stubborn, snotty, resentful note-underlaid with pain and
despair.

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