Chapters 11–15 Summary

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Chapter 11

Oliver is brought to a court and locked up, despite there being no evidence of his guilt. Even the defendant starts to question Oliver’s culpability and does not want to press the case. He thinks Oliver’s face looks familiar, but he loses his train of thought. The defendant, Mr. Brownlow, attempts to stop the proceedings, but the angry magistrate, Mr. Fant, keeps interrupting him and trying to get him to say what the boy has done. He is not open to hearing that the boy might be innocent. Oliver says his name is Tom White and reports that his parents are dead. Oliver asks for water, but Mr. Fant screams that the boy will not “make a fool of” him. Oliver faints due to the pressure and the aftermath of the chase, but he is still sentenced to three months of hard labor. The owner of the book stall arrives and pleads Oliver’s case, serving as a witness to Oliver’s innocence. The men put Oliver into a coach because he is so ill, and they drive away.

Chapter 12

The coach brings Oliver to a house near Pentonville, where Mr. Brownlow and his housekeeper, Mrs. Bedwin, nurse Oliver back to health. Oliver is unconscious for several days, and once he awakens, Mrs. Bedwin observes that he is very grateful for her care. He tells her that he has felt his mother near him of late, and the old lady replies that it must have been an effect of his fever. Oliver gives an account of his mother’s death and his belief that she would not want to see him in pain because “her face has always looked sweet and happy” in his dreams, which brings the housekeeper to tears. The doctor gives Mrs. Bedwin permission to feed Oliver toast and tea, and Oliver soon after falls asleep. 

That night Oliver looks around the room and has a sense that he almost died during his illness. The next day, he wakes up and feels better, and in three days’ time, he is able to sit up in a chair. When Mrs. Bedwin brings Oliver down to eat in her room, he notices a portrait of a young woman on the wall. Oliver admires the picture and inquires about the subject, but the housekeeper does not know the woman’s identity. Mrs. Bedwin is disturbed when Oliver says he feels like the eyes are looking right at him and that the lady wants to speak to him. 

Mr. Brownlow comes in and asks about Oliver’s health. The boy gratefully replies that he is feeling better. When the gentleman addresses Oliver as Tom White, the name Oliver had given in court, Oliver is confused and clarifies that his name is Oliver Twist. He does not remember giving another name to the magistrate, and even though Brownlow thinks it may be a lie, he observes that Oliver’s face looks very honest. The gentlemen again has the sense that Oliver’s face is familiar to him and is then struck by a strong resemblance between Oliver and the woman in the portrait. Mr. Brownlow’s reaction causes the boy to faint.

Chapter 13

The narrative shifts back to the company of thieves on the day that Oliver was taken into police custody. Jack and Charley return without Oliver, and Fagin interrogates the boys, who are reluctant to talk. They eventually reveal that Oliver was taken by the police, and Fagin is about to throw a pot at Charley when Bill Sikes enters the apartment. The stout, bulky man enters with his shaggy, disheveled dog, and he...

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kicks the dog to get it to obey. Sikes comments on Fagin’s treatment of the boys, saying he would understand if the boys wanted to murder the old man. 

Oliver’s arrest is recounted; Fagin is concerned that Oliver will tell the police about their illegal activity. Sikes agrees but hates police officers, so he won’t go inquire about Oliver himself. Nancy agrees to go to the police station after she is threatened by Fagin. She performs the part of a distressed young woman looking for her brother and, having gained the approval of Fagin and Sikes, sets off on her mission. An officer tells Nancy that there is no young boy there and eventually reveals that the boy was taken in a coach by a gentleman to a place near Pentonville. Fagin is pleased to have the information and orders Nancy and Jack to find Oliver and return him. 

Chapter 14

At Mr. Brownlow’s, Oliver quickly recovers from his fainting spell. The gentleman and his housekeeper are careful about what they say around Oliver, and they also have the portrait of the young woman removed. Oliver passes his time listening to Mrs. Bedwin’s stories about her family and playing cribbage. Oliver thinks of these days as idyllic, especially compared to all his previous experiences. Mr. Brownlow generously has a new suit made for Oliver, and the boy gives his old clothing to a servant to sell for her own profit. Mr. Brownlow says he wants to talk to Oliver about a serious matter, and Oliver is concerned that the gentleman will turn him out of the house. Brownlow says he will never abandon the boy without cause, and Oliver promises to never give him any reason to do so. He then inquires about Oliver’s background and says he will protect the boy as long as he is honest. 

Brownlow’s friend Mr. Grimwig stops by the house unexpectedly, and Oliver is surprised by the man’s eccentricity. Brownlow asks Oliver to come see him the next morning to resume their talk about his background, and Oliver promises to be there. Once Oliver leaves the room, Grimwig goads Brownlow by telling him Oliver will not be at the meeting; Brownlow is very confident that Oliver will comply. Mrs. Bedwin comes into the office after a boy from the bookseller’s cart has dropped off an order of books, but Brownlow says he needs to return some books and pay for these new ones. The boy has already left, but Oliver enthusiastically volunteers to run the errand for his benefactor. Grimwig is sure Oliver will not return, while Brownlow insists he will. The men wait as it grows dark outside.

Chapter 15

Sikes and Fagin have an ambiguous conversation in which Sikes claims to “have the upper hand” and Fagin relates that they share “a mutual interest.” Fagin gives Sikes some money that is apparently owed him, but Sikes is not satisfied with the amount. Fagin rings the bell, which is answered by a young Jewish man named Barney. He says that only he and Nancy are there, and Sikes sends for Nancy. She answers the question about Oliver by saying she’s making progress but that the boy has been sick and inside the house, so she cannot get to him yet. Fagin indicates slyly to Nancy that she shouldn’t say too much in front of Sikes, and Nancy says it’s time to leave. Sikes walks with her part of the way, and Fagin stays to read a newspaper about recent crimes and offenders. 

The narrative returns to Oliver on his errand; he turns down a wrong street but is lost in thought about how happy he would be if not for remembering his friend Dick at the workhouse. Nancy spots Oliver and makes a scene by shouting for her “dear brother.” Passersby side with Nancy, especially after Oliver recognizes and calls her by her name. None of the crowd is sympathetic with Oliver nor tries to help him. Oliver realizes resistance is futile. Back at the house near Pentonville, Brownlow, Grimwig, and the housekeeper still wait for Oliver to return.


Chapters 6–10 Summary


Chapters 16–20 Summary