Illustration of Pip visiting a graveyard

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

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Chapters 4 and 5 Summary

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Chapter 4

Pip returns home after taking food to the convict. He fully expects to find a constable waiting for him, but no officers arrive to arrest him. Instead, he finds Mrs. Joe busy in the kitchen preparing for the day's festivities. When Mrs. Joe angrily demands to know where Pip has been, he tells her that he went to listen to the carols.

Accordingly, a feast of pickled pork, greens, and roast stuffed fowls will be served for Christmas dinner. Pip and Joe eat their breakfast quickly and are soon dispatched to attend the morning church services. Meanwhile, Mrs. Joe continues with the meal preparations. Pip's seemingly calm demeanor, however, speaks nothing of his inner turmoil. He quakes in terror every time Mrs. Joe goes near the pantry.

After church, the company begins arriving. Pip opens the door to Mr. Wopsle, Mr. and Mrs. Hubble, and Uncle Pumblechook. The latter offers his usual gift of sherry wine and port wine to Mrs. Joe, which puts her in an extremely good mood.

Dinner for Pip is an uncomfortable experience in more ways than one. He is constantly hemmed in by Uncle Pumblechook and receives the worst cuts of meat. Pip also finds himself the subject of ridicule and disapproval. The adults (apart from Joe) seem to delight in moralizing about the faults of the young and pointing out Pip's shortcomings. Pip is particularly upset with Mr. Wopsle and fantasizes about pulling on the older man's Roman nose.

However, what truly strikes terror in Pip is the moment the brandy is brought out. Mr. Pumblechook drinks and ends up in a coughing fit, exclaiming that there is tar in the brandy.

Nevertheless, the suspenseful moment soon passes, and everyone partakes of pudding. Finally, Joe's sister goes to retrieve the pork pie from the pantry—the same pork pie that Pip stole the night before. Not daring to wait any longer, Pip makes a dash for freedom. He is shocked when he runs into a group of soldiers at the door. One of them holds out a pair of handcuffs and addresses Pip.

Chapter 5

Pip discovers, to his relief, that the soldiers haven't come to arrest him. Instead, they want Joe to use his blacksmithing skills to fix a couple of handcuffs. The soldiers reveal that they are on a mission to find two convicts. Meanwhile, Joe's sister serves the soldiers beer and even invites the sergeant to drink some brandy. Uncle Pumblechook, however, tells her to serve wine instead.

The wine is brought out, and Uncle Pumblechook himself divides it up among the soldiers. Pumblechook ignores the fact that the soldiers are draining the two bottles of wine that he gave to Mrs. Joe.

After a while, the soldiers are merry and ready to continue on their errand. Mr. Wopsle, Joe, and Pip follow in the back of the contingent of soldiers. Along the way, Pip experiences a pang of regret. He worries that his convict will think he has betrayed his trust.

The soldiers plod along and soon hear voices. Every soldier makes a mad dash in the direction of the voices. They eventually come across two convicts engaged in a vicious fight. With plenty of oaths and a grand effort, the soldiers soon manage to pry the two fighting men apart. Pip's convict maintains that he was only taking the other convict in to the authorities. However, the second convict proclaims that Pip's convict tried to kill him. Meanwhile, Pip's convict furiously retorts that the other man is lying.

The two convicts argue, but the sergeant refuses to take sides. He tells Pip's convict that it's no good bringing in another convict when he's in the same sorry position himself. The two convicts are handcuffed and made to walk alongside separate guards. After more than an hour of traveling, the group comes to a hut and a landing place. Everyone enters the hut, and Pip notices that the makeshift shelter is warm and smells of tobacco.

In the hut, Pip's convict makes a confession. He tells the sergeant that he was the one who took the brandy and pork pie from Joe's household. He also apologizes to Joe. The chapter ends with both convicts being loaded up onto a boat rowed by prisoners. None of the prisoners acknowledge Pip's convict.

The prisoners row the boat up to a massive ship. From the shore, Pip sees his convict taken up onto the ship and thinks that he has seen the last of the man.

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Chapters 2 and 3


Chapters 6 and 7