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Chapter 7: Mr. Wopsle's Great Aunt... Notes from Great Expectations

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Great Expectations Chapter 7: Mr. Wopsle's Great Aunt...

Pip tells a little about his education to date, which has taken place in an evening school run by Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt. The great aunt seems to spend more time sleeping than teaching, and Pip says that her granddaughter, an orphan like Pip, named Biddy, has been much more helpful as he's struggled to learn his letters and numbers.

One day Pip brings home a little note he's written in school, and as Joe struggles to read it, Pip realizes he's basically illiterate. The only letters he seems to pick out are J and O, those from his own name. The two talk about reading and Joe gives Pip an outline of his childhood, during which young Joe and his mother spent most of their energy dealing with his drunken father. That left little time for education, Joe says. Then, Joe met Mrs. Joe, who was too bossy to want an educated man around. Joe shows himself, however, to have a sweet spot or at least solid respect for Mrs. Joe, who he says, despite her brusque manner, "is a fine figure of a woman." When the conversation turns to Pip as a baby, and Joe's instant acceptance of him, Pip gets so emotional he starts to cry. The conversation means a lot to Pip, who realizes:

"We were equals afterwards, as we had been before; but, afterwards at quiet times when I sat looking at Joe and thinking about him, I had a new sensation of feeling conscious that I was looking up to Joe in my heart." Chapter 7, pg. 56

Topic Tracking: Class 1

Mrs. Joe, who's been off shopping with Uncle Pumblechook, returns home with news that she says ought to make Pip grateful. When she tells her news--that Pip has been recruited by Miss Havisham, "an immensely rich and grim lady who lived in a large and dismal house barricaded against robbers, and who led a life of seclusion" (57), to come up to her house and play--"grateful" is not the best word for Pip's response. He wonders why the creepy old woman would want a little boy to play in her house, and what on earth he's supposed to do there. Pumblechook and Mrs. Joe obviously hope that if they indulge the old woman, she'll heap some money on Pip. Before Pip can give it much thought, he's being scrubbed clean and thrown into the back of Mr. Pumblechook's cart; he'll spend the night with Pumblechook so that he can head off early tomorrow to Miss Havisham's.

Topic Tracking: Expectations 1

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