Why is it so difficult for Pip to ask Mr. Jaggers for a specific amount of money in Chapter 24?
Pip goes to Mr. Jaggers telling him his intention of buying furniture for his room at Barnard's Inn, and they have a long discussion over how much money he wants... I don't know why Pip has such a hard time deciding.
Pip is new at this. He has never had to buy furniture or rent his own place. Mr. Pocket relates to Pip Mr. Jaggers instructions.
"He knew more of my intended career than I knew myself, for he referred to his having been told by Mr. Jaggers that I was not designed for any profession, and that I shuld be well enough educated for my destiny that I could "hold my own' with the average of young men in prosperous circunstances." (pg 183 - chapter 24)
Pip was to be raised as a gentleman of means, one who did not have to work. When the reader looks back on Pip's upbringing, it is obvious that Pip doesn't know how to do that. He has been raised as a blacksmith's apprentice, and he does not know the manners or the lifestyle of the rich and famous. He decides,
".....if I could retain my bedroom in Barnard's Inn, my life would be agreeably varied, while my manners would be none the worse for Herbert's society" (pg 183 - chapter 24)
No one objected to this idea but it had to be approved by Mr. Jaggers. He tells Mr. Jaggers,
"If I could buy the furnitute now hired for me and one or two other little things, I should be quite at home there." (pg 184-chapter 24).
Mr. Jaggers highly approves and asks him how much he needs. Pip has never bought furniture. He has no idea how much to ask of Mr. Jaggers. So Mr. Jaggers throws out a figure of fifty pounds. In those days, that was a lot of money. Pip immediately says he doesn't need that much, but he is still unsure how much he will need. Pip complains,
"It is so difficult to fix a sum" (pg 184, chapter 24)
If you ask some of your fellow classmates how much money they would need to buy a bedroom set, I'm sure that the majority of them would have difficulty coming up with a reasonable amount. Pip is having that same trouble. He doesn't know how much it is going to cost, and he doesn't want to overstep his bounds.