What does the convict lie about on the marshes in "Great Expectations"? 

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Early in "Great Expectations," after the convict frightens Pip into bringing food to him, Pip notices the convict eating everything and comments,

'I am afraid you won't leave any of it for him.'

The convict laughs gruffly and replies falsely,

'He don't want no wittles.'

even though Pip has remarked that the second convict looks hungry.  Later, after the convict is captured, he lies to spare Pip any punishment:

'I wish to say something respecting this escape.  it may prevent some persons laying under suspicion alonger...I took some wittles, up at the village over yonder....From the blacksmith's.'

In gratitude for the kindness of the boy Pip, the convict lies that he has stolen in order to keep Pip out of trouble.  This loyalty to Pip comes from the fact that Pip is probably the first person to have shown him any warmth and kindness.  So touched by this human kindness is the convict Magwitch that he secretly strives to repay Pip generously in Book the Second of Dickens's novel.  So, even in a lowly criminal there exists a certain nobility.  This characteristic is suggested here as a foreshadowing of some of Magwitch's future actions.

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Great Expectations

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