Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Great Expectations, post the second

Chapter 4
  • Spoke too soon. The Gargery-Pirrip family will be going through the Christmas rituals after all.
  • "So, we had our slices served out, as if we were two thousand troops on a forced march instead of a man and boy at home; and we took gulps of milk and water, with apologetic countenances, from a jug on the dresser."
  • "Mrs. Joe was a very clean housekeeper, but had an exquisite art of making her cleanliness more uncomfortable and unacceptable than dirt itself."
  • "I was always treated as if I had insisted on being born in opposition to the dictates of reason, religion, and morality, and against the dissuading arguments of my best friends."
  • "I opened the door to the company,—making believe that it was a habit of ours to open that door,—and I opened it first to Mr. Wopsle, next to Mr. and Mrs. Hubble, and last of all to Uncle Pumblechook. N.B. I was not allowed to call him uncle, under the severest penalties."
  • " the Pumblechookian elbow in my eye"
  • If you've gotten this far into the book and are not feeling profoundly sorry for Joe Gargery, I'm not sure we're on speaking terms any more. That man needs a hug. And while I don't remember all the details from the last time I read the book, I'm fairly sure he's not going to get one.
  • For the moment, things look bad for Pip, as it turns out he didn't water down the brandy to cover what he gave the convict, he poured the infamous tar-water into it.
  • There's another reference to the fact that Pip is looking  back and telling this story, and it's a curiously phrased one: "I moved the table, like a Medium of the present day, by the vigor of my unseen hold upon it." But I guess the paranormal stuff didn't really get started until the last third of century.
  • This is one of the rare occasions in literature where the arrival of soldiers bearing handcuffs is actually a good thing. In a way.

Chapter 5
  • For a character who never gets a name of his own, the sergeant is a rather clever bit on Dickens' part. He knows just what to say to everyone -- and manages to flirt with Mrs. Joe while keeping a straight face.
  • Poor Joe. Everyone else gets to sit around and drink wine while he has to follow his Christmas dinner with a stint at the anvil.
  • "I thought what terrible good sauce for a dinner my fugitive friend on the marshes was."
  • I love that Pip now thinks of the man as "my particular convict."
  • Curiouser and curiouser: When they catch the two convicts down at the marshes, Pip's convict makes a point of noting that he captured the other one. When the sergeant points out it's not likely to get him any time off, "'I don't expect it to do me any good. I don't want it to do me more good than it does now,' said my convict, with a greedy laugh. 'I took him. He knows it. That's enough for me.'"
  • Clearly there's a history between these two men. Otherwise, wouldn't they put a little more effort into dealing with the fact that the soldiers have recaptured them?
  • "It had been almost dark before, but now it seemed quite dark, and soon afterwards very dark."
  • And Pip's convict is demonstrating his humanity here, claiming he stole the food Pip brought him. This chapter is really just a stroke of luck for Pip.

Chapter 6
  • This is an excessively short chapter.
  • Why Pip doesn't make a confession of his own: "The fear of losing Joe's confidence, and of thenceforth sitting in the chimney corner at night staring drearily at my forever lost companion and friend, tied up my tongue."
  • And there's the theme, right there: "In a word, I was too cowardly to do what I knew to be right, as I had been too cowardly to avoid doing what I knew to be wrong. I had had no intercourse with the world at that time, and I imitated none of its many inhabitants who act in this manner. Quite an untaught genius, I made the discovery of the line of action for myself."

Don't forget, Leila's got the full list of posts over at Bookshelves of Doom!


Leila said...

I've only read your recap of Chapter Four so far, but this? "If you've gotten this far into the book and are not feeling profoundly sorry for Joe Gargery, I'm not sure we're on speaking terms any more. That man needs a hug." WORD.

Also, the table-moving! I missed that, and yes, I now expect to see a paranormal re-write of Great Expectations ANY TIME SOON.

Sarah Rettger said...

Not sure what it says about me that the most sympathetic character this time around -- in a pitying sense -- is Joe. Maybe it's a sign I'm getting old.

On a completely unrelated note, the stylist took note of my little strands of gray when she cut my hair yesterday.