Analyse Fagin's refusal to pray in Chapter 52.

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dickens gives only one reason in the text of Chapter 52 to explain why Fagin refused to pray but further inference may be made from the character of Fagin as Dickens drew him. First, the only reason hinted at is that Fagin had watched many other criminal associates die on the gallows and he had spurned and disparaged them one and all for dying with a prayer upon their lips. From this it can be inferred that Fagin had a deep resonating antipathy (i.e., repugnance, contrariety) to religion and to seeking spiritual goodness or that he had deep seated antipathy toward those who seek God at the twelfth hour of their lives.

Second, from Fagin's life and treatment of the children whom he collected around him, it can also be inferred that Fagin's every character trait was in opposition to anything good or redemptive. He used the children only for personal gain and any affection or care he fained was shown only to corral a faithful, devoted criminal servants. That this is true can be judged from Bill Sikes life, which Fagin had influenced and molded early on.

Third, in addition, Dickens asserted that he designed Oliver Twist to represent the principles of good and evil; Fagin in evil. Evil is naturally averse to goodness. Prayer equates with goodness and a quest for communing with goodness as well as for being influenced by goodness. In Dickens' design for Oliver Twist, having Fagin seek goodness would not have supported his authorial objective

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Oliver Twist

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