What was Pip doing in the graveyard?

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Pip was visiting the graves of his deceased family members. Pip is an orphan, which is why he lives with his older sister and her husband, Joe Gargery. In the days before modern medicine, it was depressingly common for whole families to be decimated by diseases that are nowadays quite easily treatable, so Pip's is by no means an isolated case.

Pip's orphanhood is important because it establishes his psychological need for mother and father figures throughout the story. In addition to Miss Havisham, there's the escaped convict Abel Magwitch, whom Pip encounters as he stands at the graves of his parents. In due course, Magwitch will become the father that Pip never really knew, acting as his benefactor and providing him with a substantial sum of money that will enable him to live out his dream as a gentleman of quality in London.

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After a little information about the origin of Pip's name, we meet the story's protagonist in a cemetery in an overgrown churchyard, forgotten along the marshes. This is where Pip's mother, father, and siblings are all buried. Pip does not say exactly what he is doing in the graveyard other than reading the names on the tombstones and holding back tears. Perhaps Dickens used this setting to set the dark mood of much of this story and to tell us that Pip has no family left.

It is here that an unknown man grabs Pip and tells him to stop his crying, as he is making too much noise. The man, who is soaking wet and looks to be in a bad condition, threatens Pip and orders him to bring him some food and a file the next day. Pip is thoroughly frightened and agrees to comply with the stranger's wishes.

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