What is the mental image Pip has of Joe?"Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While Pip does consider Joe an embarrassment in Book the Second, in Book the First he perceives Joe as his friend who protects him from Mrs. Joe's "Tickler" and father-figure who carries Pip upon his shoulders and praises and encourages Pip in his learning and who instructs him in moral values. Pip loves him dearly, afraid at one point of "losing Joe's confidence" and having an "admiration of Joe....looking up to Joe in [his] heart."  It is not until Estella makes him aware of being "common"; after his visit to Satis House, that Pip is ashamed of Joe's being common, too.

As a bildungsroman, or maturation novel, Book the Third contains Pip's progression from selfish desires and inconsideration of others to appreciation of true values and of people with integrity.  So, in the latter part of "Great Expectations," as Pip recovers from being burned in the fire at Miss Havisham's, he is cared for lovingly by Joe.  Ashamed of having been cold toward Joe while he lived in London, when Pip becomes conscious, he sees Joe sitting beside his bed:

'Oh, Joe, you break my heart!  Look angry at me, Joe.  strike me, Joe.  Tell me of my ingratitude.  Don't be so good to me!'

With his usual charity, Joe lays his head next to Pip and puts his arm around Pip's neck and declaring, "you and me was ever friends..."  Pip prays, "O God, bless this gentle Christian man!"  Finally Pip realizes that Joe is ever his true friend and anything but common in his soul.

Jen Sambdman eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout most of the novel, Pip thinks of Joe as an embarrasment. He has a very pretentious attitude toward his roots after he gets his money and doesnt appreciate where he "comes from". The things Joe says, does and the way he acts are all mortifying to Pip until toward the end when he realizes that Joe is a great person and one of the people who loved him as he was both poor and rich.

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Great Expectations

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