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Chapter 9: Mr. Pumblechook Questions Me... Notes from Great Expectations

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Great Expectations Chapter 9: Mr. Pumblechook Questions Me...

By their respective methods of pounding fists and ceaseless arithmetic questions, Mrs. Joe and Mr. Pumblechook torment Pip into talking about his day at Miss Havisham's, which he's decidedly reluctant to discuss. Instead of telling of the yellowed wedding dress or the cobwebby dressing room, however, Pip tells a series of extravagant lies about his day. They all ate wine and cake, they played with great dogs and flags, and there was a huge coach in the middle of Miss Havisham's room. Pumblechook and Mrs. Joe believe all this, and Pip doesn't much care until Joe enters into the conversation and is likewise dazzled by the details.

Pip spends the evening with Joe in his forge, and just as they're about to leave, Pip confesses that his details about Miss Havisham's were lies. Joe is taken aback, and when Pip tries to explain the truth, and how he was accused of being "common," Joe is unflinching in his certainty that a lie is a lie and there's no good reason to tell one. He tells Pip that furthermore, he'll never be more than common if he's a liar:

"If you can't get to be oncommon through going straight, you'll never get to do it through going crooked." Chapter 9, p. 81

Topic Tracking: Class 3

Joe tells Pip he's not angry with him, he just doesn't want Pip to lie again. Pip heads off to bed, thinking about his day at Miss Havisham's, still troubled by this new insight which frames his and Joe's life as suddenly so common. The narrator, who is clearly Pip at an older age, sees this day as a very significant one for himself--a day that changed the course of his life. He urges the reader to,

"... think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day." Chapter 9, pg. 82

Topic Tracking: Expectations 2

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