Pip and Joe Gargery have a special relationship. Although Joe is married to his sister, and is therefore a parent figure to him, Pip considers Joe his equal. “I always treated him as a larger species of child, and as no more than my equal.” Joe is a simple, good-hearted man, and Pip views him as a “fellow-sufferer” of Mrs. Joe. Pip’s constant use of the term “by hand” is also revealing. Pip is convinced that Mrs. Joe must have forced Joe to marry her “by hand.” His sister, who is cantankerous and not pretty, seems to have found a spouse who is her complete opposite in both looks and personality. “I had a general impression that she must have made Joe Gargery marry her by hand.”
Pip sees Joe as a slightly older child, one old enough and strong enough to protect him from Mrs. Joe. When Pip returns to the house, Joe warns him his sister is on the “Ram-page” and suggests where Pip should hide. Mrs. Joe is the formidable force in the house. Pip, for example, does not think of taking bread from the house taking from Joe. “I never thought I was going to rob Joe, for I never thought of any of the housekeeping property as his.”
Joe sometimes takes the role of the father; in this chapter, the food bolting episode is a good example of this. When Pip hides his bread, Joe notices it has disappeared very quickly. He thinks Pip has eaten too fast, and he gives Pip a lecture. “You know, old chap,” said Joe, looking at me, and not at Mrs. Joe, with his bite still in his cheek, “I Bolted, myself, when I was your age — frequent — and as a boy I’ve been among a many Bolters; but I never see your Bolting equal yet, Pip, and it’s a mercy you ain’t Bolted dead.” Joe does not want to get Pip in trouble, but in this instance, his concern for Pip overrides his usual tendency to protect him from Mrs. Joe.