Great Expectations | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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Great Expectations | Chapters 35–36 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 35

Pip admits he has no tenderness for Mrs. Joe but does feel a hint of regret, which softens his memories of their relationship.

When Pip arrives at Joe's home, he finds that Mr. Trabb has created an ostentatious funeral, making the inside of the house look like a "black Bazaar" and dressing Joe in a long black cloak with a large bow under his chin. Pip offers his condolences to Joe and notices Biddy trying to help the guests. Pip meets Pumblechook, who again fawns over the young man. Mr. Trabb organizes the funeral procession, which makes Pip feel as if he is taking part in a morbid dance. The procession heads onto the marsh to the church where Pip's parents are buried.

After the guests leave, Pip has a simple dinner with Joe and Biddy in the best parlor of Joe's house. Biddy mentions seeing Orlick lurking about, which fills Pip with indignation. Pip states his plan to visit Joe more often, but Biddy wonders if Pip will fulfill this plan. Her doubts hurt Pip. In the morning Pip says goodbye to Joe and Biddy. As he walks away, Pip senses that Biddy's doubts are probably justified.

Chapter 36

Pip and Herbert continue to pile up debts. On his 21st birthday Pip comes of age to receive his fortune. Pip goes to Jaggers's office, where Wemmick congratulates him. Pip then meets with Jaggers, who asks Pip how much money he is spending. Pip confesses he has no idea, which does not surprise Jaggers. Jaggers tells Pip that his benefactor will not be made known today. Then Jaggers hands Pip a banknote for 500 pounds. Pip will receive this amount each year and, from now on, will take his money matters into his own hands. Pip is grateful. Jaggers asserts that Pip's benefactor may not reveal his or her identity for years. Pip still assumes that Miss Havisham is his benefactress.

Pip invites Jaggers to have dinner with him and Herbert, which the lawyer accepts. Pip then asks Wemmick about the possibility of giving some of his 500 pounds to a friend to help him start in business. Wemmick discourages this idea as a bad investment but implies that his answer at home in Walworth might be different. Encouraged, Pip plans to visit Wemmick at home soon. Pip and Herbert have dinner with Jaggers.

Analysis

In Chapter 35 Dickens touches on the theme of guilt and redemption through Pip and Mrs. Joe. At the beginning of the chapter, Pip admits to not feeling tenderness for his sister. He does, though, feel indignation toward the person who attacked her. This indignation is Pip's way of making up for not having tender sentiments about Mrs. Joe. Pip, therefore, feels some guilt about his lack of affection for his sister. Later when Pip walks to Joe's house, he realizes that after he dies people may need to soften their memories of him. As a result his memories of Mrs. Joe soften somewhat. Thus Pip's insights about his own failings helps redeem his feelings about his sister.

Dickens focuses on the theme of social class and ambition in Chapter 35 by describing the behavior of Mr. Trabb and Pumblechook at the funeral. Mr. Trabb tries to give the funeral the fancy airs of the upper class, which is totally out of place. By providing the clothes and decorations for this ostentatious display, Mr. Trabb satisfies his ambition to profit from the funeral. Pumblechook uses the funeral as an opportunity to fawn over Pip and hopefully gain favor from the young man.

In Chapter 36 Dickens uses the symbol of money to represent Pip's official rise into the upper class. He now has become a gentleman in his own right who handles his own financial affairs. Even so the theme of uncertainty and deceit remain dominant in Pip's life. Pip's coming into his fortune does not provide him with knowledge about his benefactor's identity. Pip continues to assume that Miss Havisham is his benefactress and, because of this, he continues to be deceived.

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