Great Expectations chronicles Pip's maturation from innocence to loss of innocence with a return to innocence as a spiritual prodigal son who must recall the simple truths of Joe Gargery. In Chapter 48, Pip, who lives and works with Herbert Pocket, concludes about himself,
We owed so much to Herbert's ever cheerful industry and readiness that I often wondered how I had conceived that old idea of his inaptitude, until I was one day enlightened by the reflection that perhaps the inaptitude had never been in him at all, but had been in me.
Clearly, these inaptitudes exist in Pip in his search for value as a person in becoming a gentleman and in earning the love of Estella. Along with the milieu of the law and prison so often as the backdrop for the narrative, Pip finds himself losing his innocence as he steals "wittles" for the convict. While committing his crime, Pip hears the boards of the floor accuse him as he sneaks across the floor: "Stop thief!" and "Get up, Mrs. Joe." At the Christmas dinner, Pip feels his guilt:
Among this good company I should have felt myself, even if I hadn't robbed the pantry, in a false position.
When Pip hears the guards telling Joe that food and a file have been recovered from the convict, Pip remarks,
The fear of losing Joe's confidence tied up my tongue. I a word, I was too cowardly to do what I knew to be right, as I had been too cowardly to avoid doing what I knew to be wrong.
Then, as Pip learns to read and write, showing his work to Joe, who praises him, Pip says that he feels conscious of "looking up to Joe in my heart." However, after he returns from playing at Miss Havisham's, Pip goes to his room where he privately looks at his "coarse hands and my common boots." It is then that Pip loses a great deal of his ingenuousness as he becomes ashamed of where he lives and with whom he lives as well as feeling in "conspiracy with criminals":
I wished Joe had been rather more genteelly brought up, and then I should have been so too.
After Pip is apprenticed to Joe at Miss Havisham's, Pip returns home sensing that his life is changed: "It is a most miserable thing to feel ashamed of home." Before, Joe had "sanctified it, and I believed in it." But now Pip feels that
within a single year all this was changed. Now it was coarse and common....and I would feel more ashamed of home than ever, in my own ungracious breast.
Once he is told of his "great expectations," Pip becomes ashamed of Joe,too, and is instead aware of "the stupendous power of money." After Joe's visit, Pip realizes that
All other swindlers upon earth are nothing to the self-swindlers, and with such pretenses did I cheat myself.
Pip's pretenses are completely destroyed with Magwitch's revealing himself as benefactor at Pip's lodgings:
I got away from him, without knowing how I did it...It was not until I began to think that I began fully to know how wrecked I was, and how the ship in which I had sailed was gone to pieces.
However, as Magwitch falls ill and is injured trying to escape, Pip nurses him and begins to regain his kinder nature. In addition, he eventually returns to the forge after Joe tends his burns from rescuing Miss Havisham, whom he has written, "I forgive." Pip tells Joe,
"Tell me of my ingratitude. Don't be so good to me!"
Finally, when Pip returns to the forge, he regains his love for his home and Joe and Biddy, having realized his own "inaptitude."