What is the relationship between Joe and Pip in Chapter 57 of "Great Expectations"?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While Pip is sick and helpless in Chapter 57, his relationship with Joe is like it was when he was a child.  Joe, "good Christian man" that he is, cares for Pip's every need with joy and gentle, unconditional love.  Pip says,

"the tenderness of Joe was so beautifully proportioned to my need that I was like a child in his hands...he would sit and talk to me in the old confidence, and with the old simplicity, and in the old unassertive protecting way".

Pip, remembering how badly he had treated Joe when he came into his "expectations", feels grateful and terribly guilty, but when he tries to explain, Joe stops him, observing,

"ever the best of friends; ain't us, Pip?  Then why go into subjects...which as betweixt two sech must be for ever onnecessary?" 

Joe, with a forgiving heart, is content to enjoy the present, when he and Pip can be like before, with no questions asked.

As Pip gets better, his relationship with Joe changes.  Joe becomes more distant, and starts calling Pip "sir", and although Pip wants to tell Joe that he has learned from his experiences and wants their old friendship to continue as it was before, he does not speak what is in his heart.  After making sure that Pip is indeed well on the mend, Joe, not wanting his presence to become intrusive, leaves Pip and goes home, having, with infinite love, given Pip care and companionship when he was in need, and even paying off all his debts (Chapter 57).

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Great Expectations

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