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Free Study Guide-Great Expectations by Charles Dickens-Free BookNotes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 10

Summary

His desire to be uncommon takes Pip again to Biddy, who promises to teach him whatever she knows. One Saturday evening while Joe and Pip are at the Three Jolly Bargemen bar, they meet a strange man who offers Joe a drink and inquires about Pip. Pip notices that the man stirs his drink with the file he had taken a long time again and given to the convict. The boy has often dreamed that the stolen file will come back to haunt him, and now fears it has. The stranger gives Pip a shilling wrapped in paper. When they return home, Pip and Joe discover the papers are actually one-pound notes. They run to look for the man, thinking it to be a mistake, but never find him.

Notes

An evening out with Joe loses all its delight when Pip sees the strange man carrying Joe's stolen file. The fear that the convict will return and he will be exposed as an accomplice causes Pip to sleep restlessly, if at all. Pip sees the appearance of the stranger as an omen of his own bad luck; he does not realize the significance of the man, or the impact he will have on Pip's life for the better.


CHAPTER 11

Summary

Pip makes a second visit to Miss Havisham's house. He sees some other people who wait on her, most of them cousins and various other relations. He is taken into a room where a table is decorated with a wedding cake that has long since rotted and is now full of insects. Miss Havisham tells Pip that when she dies, they will put her body on the table. Then Pip plays cards with Estella. On his way back, he comes across a thin, pale boy who dares him to fight. Pip knocks the boy down and Estella grants him the reward of kissing her cheek.

Notes

Pip's second visit proves to be an important one, though the significance is for now unrealized. He meets two people with whom he will have a long association: Mr. Jaggers, a lawyer, and the boy with whom he fights. The boy will become his most trusted friend in a few years.

The room with the wedding cake is yet another symbol in the novel to mark the house that has been forgotten by time. The cake and Miss Havisham's dress are eerie monuments to the unfulfilled past-monuments that have rotted and yellowed with age, but that still stand.

Estella's reward is only a temporary victory for Pip; it does not mean he has become less common, at least to her.

CHAPTERS 12 - 14

Summary

Pip is now expected to be at Miss Havisham's every afternoon. This arrangement continues for ten months. Estella's behavior during this time alternates between indifference and friendliness, confusing Pip and stringing him along.

Miss Havisham knows that when Pip is old enough, he will be apprenticed to Joe. One day, she asks the young boy to bring his mentor along. A few days later, when the visit takes place, Joe's behavior embarrasses Pip. Miss Havisham rewards Pip with a generous sum of twenty-five guineas and reminds him that he is now a servant of Joe. The apprenticeship will sever his ties with Satis House.

Once Pip had looked forward to working with Joe. After all, the two were as close as brothers. But now the work seems like drudgery; Pip is constantly aware of the "common-ness" of it all. He often wonders what Estella would think if she saw him working as a blacksmith. His discontent grows daily.

Notes

Joe's "common" behavior at Miss Havisham's is the first in a long series of things that Pip becomes ashamed of as a result of his time with Estella. He watches Estella smile at Joe and imagines she is laughing at his base ways and lowly mannerisms, and Pip is embarrassed.

Ultimately, Pip's apprenticeship takes him away from Satis House and the taste of uncommon-ness he had enjoyed there. He becomes preoccupied with thoughts of Estella and Miss Havisham, and his dissatisfaction with his old life grows steadily. He becomes more ashamed of home, and of Joe. Both are constant reminders that his station in life will never meet Estella's standards and this troubles him greatly.

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