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Explain the expression, "like monumental crusaders as to their legs".  How does...

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kase876 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 3, 2009 at 11:20 PM via web

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Explain the expression, "like monumental crusaders as to their legs".  How does Dickens use details to convey the mood at the opening?

"Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 4, 2009 at 3:02 AM (Answer #1)

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The opening of Chapter 4 of "Great Expectations" finds Pip and Joe subjected to the cross temper of Mrs. Joe.  When she "goes on a rampage," as Joe terms her temper tantrums, Joe crosses his fingers to Pip to symbolize Mrs. Joe's state of mind.  They dodge flying dustpans and "Tickler," her switch.  So irate is Mrs. Joe sometimes that they cross even their legs.  This crossing of the legs is symbolic of the slain Christians in the Crusades, statues of whom had legs crossed both for balance and as symbolic of the legs of Jesus  that were so positioned at the Crucifixtion.

Thus, at the opening of this chapter, the tone is bellicose.  As the chapter proceeds, Uncle Pumblechook excoriates Pip throughout the holiday dinner.  Finally, two officers of the law arrive with a pair of handcuffs, and the terrified, guilty Pip believes they have come for him for having stolen the file and food for the convict.

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