Book Notes

Chapter 27: Joe Comes to Barnard's Inn... Notes from Great Expectations

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Great Expectations Chapter 27: Joe Comes to Barnard's Inn...

A letter comes to Pip from Biddy announcing that Joe will be in town and would like to visit. Disturbed by the thought of being seen with Joe and his "commonness," Pip isn't looking forward to the visit. Aspiring to the habits of a gentleman, Pip has been decorating the shabby room at Barnard's Inn, and there is even an occasional servant-boy, known as Pepper (or the Avenger).

The day after the letter arrives, Pip can hear Joe's clumsy boots on the steps and from the moment the two are reunited, both are very uncomfortable. Joe's speech is a garbled attempt at sounding over-eloquent, he calls Pip "Sir," and he seems to use his hat to divert his nervous energy, and it's constantly falling on the floor. Older Pip explains Joe's nervousness as a consequence of Pip's: "...if I had been easier with Joe, Joe would have been easier with me." (258)

Joe is in town for Wopsle's professional acting debut in a provincial performance of Hamlet. He's also come to pass on the news that Miss Havisham wishes Pip to visit the marshes because Estella is in town. This news, of course, about melts Pip.

Joe is not oblivious to the discomfort between he and Pip, and he admits, with what Older Pip appreciates as real dignity, that he is much more at ease in the forge, and that he and Pip really don't belong together in London. Joe has a simple, though dignified attitude about the divisions between men:

"... one [man's] a blacksmith, and one's a whitesmith, and one's a goldsmith, and one's a coppersmith. Divisions among such must come, and must be met as they come." Chapter 27, pg. 260

Topic Tracking: Class 8

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