Why does Pip feel sympathy for the convict in Great Expectations?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Pip is a sensitive little boy.  When he first meets Magwitch on the marsh, he feels sorry for him as well as being afraid of him.  He is worried about Magwitch’s capture, but he also feels sorry for him because he can tell that he is not the bad person he is pretending to be.

Pip soon comes to think of Magwitch as his convict.

[Both] my convict and the other one … were bleeding and panting and execrating and struggling; but of course I knew them both directly. (ch 5, p. 26)

Even at a young age, the wretched Pip has come to view Magwitch with some sympathy.  He brings him food and warns him about the dangers of the marshes.  He feels sorry for the man who is limping and cold.

Pitying his desolation, andwatching him as he gradually settled down upon the pie, I made bold to say, “I am glad you enjoy it.” (ch 3, p. 15)

Although Pip is afraid that the convict will be caught, he is also afraid that the convict will get sick and possibly die.  This foreshadows Pip’s later encounters with Magwitch, when he watches him die after the accident when the police tried to capture him.

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