Pip's encounter with the convict in the marshes is the first event described in Great Expectations, and it is intended to be dramatic and terrifying. Pip is a small child, already shivering and beginning to cry, when a man rises up from among the graves beside the church and orders him to stop making a noise, or he will cut Pip's throat.
The man turns Pip upside down to empty his pockets but finds nothing except a piece of bread, which he eats with evident hunger. He then announces that he is deciding whether to allow Pip to live. He says that he will do so on the condition that Pip brings a file and some food to him early the next morning. To ensure Pip's compliance, he tells him a story about a young man who is hiding nearby and listening to their conversation. Compared to this young man, the convict says, he himself is an angel. If Pip fails in his task, or tells anyone that he has seen the convict, this young man will pursue him and tear him open. Having made this dire threat and seen how frightened Pip is, he lets him go. Pip looks around for the terrifying young man, but he cannot see him and runs home.