Noah Claypole is Mr. Sowerberry's apprentice at his funeral business. Having come from a humble background, he's fiercely ambitious and harbors hopes of one day rising further with the firm. When Oliver arrives, Noah instantly sees him as a potential threat. He's worried that the new arrival will start to take on more and more of his responsibilities, making him less useful to Mr. Sowerberry. Noah regards himself as kind of a big deal in Mr. Sowerberry's shop and doesn't want anyone else muscling in on his patch.
Right from the start, then, Noah treats Oliver like a dog, calling him names about his status as a workhouse inmate and insulting his late mother, which proves to be the final straw for Oliver, who physically attacks Noah for his impudence. But before then Noah enjoys lording it over the young waif. He's on something of a power trip, seeing the presence of someone even lower down the social ladder than himself as a great opportunity to act like the boss he believes himself to be.