What theme of Dickens does Pip's return to the countryside of his youth emphasize?  Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The theme of Identity/Search for Self is emphasized in Pip's return to the forge for his sister's funeral in Chapter XXXV of Great Expectations.  For, as Pip reflects upon the "grave" that has "opened in my road of life," he realizes that his new life in London has not been as grandiose as he originally believed it would be.  Its illusion is exposed by the warm fire at the forge in the loving environment of Joe and Biddy as there is "no fire like the forge fire and the kitchen fire at home"; a fire that reflects the love of his friend, Joe Gargery. Later, when Pip returns home at the end of the novel, he comes as the prodigal son--"if you can receive me like a forgiven child"--who remembers the simple truth that the greatest love he has ever known is that of Joe at the forge, who was "ever the best of friends."

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