What is the first major crisis in "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In the exposition of "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens, little Pip finds himself not alone in the marsh churchyard as he visits the graves of his mother and father.  A "man in grey" suddenly appears and shakes the boy after turning him upside down.  Frightened by this "fearful man," Pip tells him that he lives with the blacksmith, whereupon the man orders him to bring him a file and "wittles."

Upon his return, Pip steals the file and robs Mrs. Joe of bread and butter, half the mincemeat meant for Christmas dinner, and some brandy, refilling the bottle from a jug in the kitchen.  When Christmas Day arrives and Pip's relative, Uncle Pumblechook, comes to dinner, the pompous uncle proposes a toast:

The wretched man trifled with his glass--took it up, looked at it through the light, put it down--prolonged my misery....I saw the miserable creature finger his glass playfully, take it up, smile, throw his head back, and drink the brandy off.  Instantly, the company was seized with unspeakable consternation, owing to his springing to his feet, turning round several times in an appalling, spasmodic whooping-cough dance, and rushing out at the door; he then became visible through the window, making the most hideous faces and apparently out of his mind.

Terrified by Pumblechook's actions, Pip fears that he has "murdered him somehow."  When Pumblechook chokes out "Tar!" Pip realizes his critical mistake.  Mrs. Joe, Pip's sister, resolves this crisis by procuring gin, hot water, sugar, and lemon peel which she mixes and administers to Uncle Pumblechook.  Thinking the worst is over, Pip hears his sister say that she will bring out the savory pork pie which Pip has stolen.  He tries to run for his life, but a "file of soldiers" appear at the door in search of the blacksmith, Joe.  Thus, another crisis--this time a very serious one--develops as the search for Pip's convict and yet another convict is conducted.  Terrified that his secret be revealed, Pip accompanies Joe on the marshes along with the soldiers.  But, this crisis is also resolved as the convict protects Pip by saying that he has stolen these "wittles up at the village over yonder."

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