Great Expectations Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

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The narrator we hear is simultaneously the younger Pip who is experiencing the events and the older Pip who is remembering them. How do these two voices work alongside (or against) each other?

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The reader has a distinct advantage in hearing from the older, experienced Pip. We can learn not only about the adventures of the boy and youth, but get the satisfaction of knowing that things turned out well for him. Pip tries very hard to get the reader on his side. One strategy he uses to generate sympathy, and perhaps empathy, for his younger self is to seem completely honest. Pip does not always behave well. He is especially hard on his dear friend, Joe. Hearing the older Pip criticize his earlier behavior reassures us that in the end, he did not forget his friends and that he outgrew his cruel streak. Similarly, his growing distance from Estella does not create the impression of having lost a deep, true love. Instead, as Pip matures, he is able to see her negative qualities—some of which he shared—and to put his youthful passionate attachment in perspective.

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