Oliver Twist Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

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What did Oliver receive when he asked for more gruel?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Life in the workhouse is hard enough for the adults, but for the children, it's even worse. Poor waifs like Oliver Twist are forced to undertake mind-numbing, back-breaking toil for hours on end each day. To make matters worse, they're fed on a diet of thin gruel: tasteless slop served up in a tiny bowl. This keeps the children in a state of permanent hunger, so it's not surprising that the other boys are desperate for more food, even if it is just gruel.

So one day, they draw lots to decide who's going to be step forward and ask for more. Oliver is unfortunate enough to draw the short straw, and so at dinner that evening, he nervously approaches the master who's serving the gruel to ask the question for which he's become famous. The response of the master is one of utter shock and incredulity. The boy wants some more? This is almost unheard of within the confines of the workhouse. The master is so outraged at what he perceives as a display of ingratitude that he whacks poor young Oliver on the head with a ladle, holds him by the arm, and immediately calls for the beadle. Oliver's days at the workhouse are numbered.

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margarettarski eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Oliver and the other boys draw straws to see who will ask for more gruel. They are all starving and not given enough food. So, of course, Oliver draws the short straw and is forced to ask for more. Unfortunately, this does not go over well with the men in charge. They are almost flabbergasted that the young boy would ask such a thing. However, remember that the boys were only given a very small amount of gruel after working at the workhouse all day. Oliver's request for more is followed by a hit with a spoon by the server. Mr. Bumble is then notified of the request, and it is decided that Oliver will be sold for five pounds to anyone who will take him. There is also a threat of Oliver being hanged.

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