Why do Pip and Biddy argue about in chapter 19 of Great Expectations?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Pip and Biddy have an argument about Pip’s treatment of Joe in chapter 19.

Biddy and Joe are clearly uncomfortable around Pip.  This is mostly due to his putting on airs and thinking he is better than them, and being ashamed of them.

Pip tries to explain to Biddy why he does not want to come to visit Joe, and stays in a hotel when he does.

“Well! Joe is a dear good fellow—in fact, I think he is the dearest fellow that ever lived—but he is rather backward in some things. For instance, Biddy, in his learning and his manners.” (ch 19, p. 104 enotes etext pdf)

Biddy is offended by this.  She demands to know what is wrong with Joe’s manners.  They were fine when Pip was growing up.  She reminds Pip that Joe is a proud man.

“He may be too proud to let any one take him out of a place that he is competent to fill, and fills well and with respect.” (ch 19, p. 105)

Biddy seems unable to get through to Pip though.  He is blinded by his “expectations” and his situation in London.  He thinks he is better than them, whether he wants to admit it or not.  When Biddy tells Pip there are many types of pride, she is gently telling him that there is good and bad pride.  Pip’s is not the good kind.

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trinithepinkangel's profile pic

trinithepinkangel | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

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Pip and Biddy get involved in an argument regarding Joe. Pip tells Biddy to teach Joe the all the ways she knows to make him worthy of Pip's 'Gentleman' society. Biddy in turn tells Pip that Joe is proud and he might not wish to be taken out of his town and role and not want to go for a new role in Pip’s society. Pip on one point of the argument tells Biddy that she is jealous and scolds her for her such behavior.

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