What incident takes place between Pip and the pale young gentleman in Great Expectations?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pip and the pale young gentleman get into a fistfight in Miss Havisham’s yard.

Miss Havisham is having some visitors, and one is a boy about Pip’s age that Pip refers to as the “pale young gentleman.”  For some reason, the boy wants to fight—seemingly for no reason.  Though he is small, Pip is frightened by this seemingly deranged youth.

His spirit inspired me with great respect. He seemed to have no strength, and he never once hit me hard, and he was always knocked down; but he would be up again in a moment… (ch 11, p. 64)

The young man finally gets Pip to fight back, and he hits him more and more and harder and harder until the young gentleman declares that Pip has won.  Estella allows Pip to kiss her.  Pip is later wracked with guilt, and afraid he is going to be arrested.

Pip and the pale young gentleman, whose real name is Herbert Pocket, meet again later when Herbert’s father tutors Pip.  They room together and become the best of friends, and Herbert gives Pip value family information about Miss Havisham and Estella.

kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter Eleven of Great Expectations, Pip is wandering around Miss Havisham's yard when he encounters a "pale young gentleman" with "red eyelids" and "light hair." Rather unexpectedly, this gentleman politely greets Pip before asking him to have a fight. Pip is so "astonished" by the young man's request that he consents to fight. Looking back on the event, Pip notes that he felt as though he were under a "spell" and still cannot explain why he agreed to go with him and fight.

The fight begins quickly: the gentleman attacks Pip with a "bull-like" movement which provides the necessary provocation. Pip easily overpowers the gentleman but the gentleman keeps getting up, no matter how many times he is knocked down. Pip, therefore, develops an instant respect for this young man who soon acknowledges defeat. Their encounter ends politely and Pip returns to the courtyard where he finds Estella. 

Some years later, Pip meets this pale young man again in London and the pair become great friends.

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Great Expectations

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