Great Expectations

Great Expectations

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Great Expectations Book 1, Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The soldiers' sergeant announces that they are on the hunt for two escaped convicts and have come to the forge to see if Joe can repair the lock on their handcuffs. While Joe repairs the cuffs, the soldiers mill about the house, to everyone's excitement. Everybody drinks together in good cheer. Pip observes that his convict has improved the party as everyone is entertained by anticipation of the convict chase. When the cuffs are repaired, Mr. Wopsle and Joe decide to follow the soldiers' for the fun of the chase. Joe brings Pip on his shoulders.
Matters of justice serve as entertainment for the non-criminal populace, who are enjoyably titillated by the prospect of a spectacle and the thrill of a vicarious threat. Pip notes the perverse irony that one man's misery (the convict's) can be another's pleasure.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Mr. Wopsle, Joe, and Pip follow the soldiers out into the wet, cold, misty marshes while Pip, confessing to Joe that he hopes the convicts aren't found, wonders anxiously whether the convict will blame him for leading the soldiers' chase. Hearing shouts, the group runs in the direction of the sound and comes upon two convicts (the one Pip helped and the one he ran into accidentally) wrestling violently in a ditch. The one Pip helped is shouting "Guard! This way for runaway convicts!" and is intent on convincing the soldiers that he has turned the other convict in. He explains that, though he could have escaped on his own, he would rather give up his own chance at escape than see the other convict get free. The other convict, meanwhile, insists that Pip's convict has just attempted to murder him. The sergeant dismisses both convicts' claims and treats them equally, marching the two convicts back towards the prison ships.
Personal definitions of justice clash with the law's definition of justice. Each convict is convinced of his moral superiority and of the other's guilt—yet the sergeant, speaking for the law, ignores the convicts' explanations and treats both men the same.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Before they begin marching, Pip's convict notices Pip and Pip, shaking his head to try to convey his own innocence, is struck by the intensity of the convict's glance. Yet the convict does not openly acknowledge Pip. After a long march, the group reaches a guard hut by the water and the other convict is rowed back out to the Hulks. While the sergeant files a report on the capture, Pip's convict spontaneously confesses to the group that he has stolen some food from the blacksmith. Everyone is astonished and Joe sympathetically tells the convict he was more than welcome to the food. Pip hears a click in the convict's throat (a sound he first noticed the convict make back in the graveyard). Then, Pip's convict is lead out to a small boat and rowed back to the prison ship.
Again, personal morality clashes with legal justice: the convict generously confesses to having committed theft on his own in order to save Pip from punishment. Joe speaks kindly to the convict, treating the man as a human being with rights (The sergeant and soldiers, by contrast, show no such generosity and talk to the convicts as if they are animals.) Although Pip cannot identify the clicking sound from the convict's throat, the reader can guess that this noise is most likely the sound of the convict on the verge of tears.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Generosity Theme Icon