In chapter 4, what does Mr. Wopsle say about "the prodigal"? 

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In Charles Dickens' novel Great Expectations, Mr. Wopsle, the clerk at the church, comes to the Gargery household for Christmas dinner. Although he is just the clerk some say "he would read the clergyman into fits," meaning he could just as well be giving the sermon each Sunday.

We meet Wopsle in chapter four just after Pip has pilfered food from his sister's pantry to feed the convict he meets in the marshes. Of course, Pip is feeling guilty and is nervous about the theft being discovered. Pip's sister is constantly reminding him of the good will she and Joe the blacksmith have bestowed upon him and how much of a burden he has been.

When talk at the dinner table turns to the day's sermon, Wopsle is quick to point out it wasn't the type of sermon he would have given considering the number of other good topics available. When Uncle Pumblechook suggests "Pork" as a topic, Wopsle begins pontificating about the "Prodigal Son" who worked as a swineherd after squandering the money his father had given him. He uses the theme of the Prodigal and the swine as a warning to Pip to appreciate everything his sister has given him. Wopsle suggests that, because he is young, Pip has been ungrateful:

"Swine," pursued Mr. Wopsle, in his deepest voice, and pointing his fork at my blushes, as if he were mentioning my Christian name,—"swine were the companions of the prodigal. The gluttony of Swine is put before us, as an example to the young." (I thought this pretty well in him who had been praising up the pork for being so plump and juicy.) "What is detestable in a pig is more detestable in a boy."

The example of the Prodigal is ironic because, in Jesus' parable, when the son returns to his father's house he is greeted with a celebration. In a firm statement of Christian love the father has forgiven his son for wasting his money and is only concerned the son has returned safely home. Wopsle seems to have missed this important point, focusing instead on the fact the Prodigal had slept with swine.

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