Oliver Twist

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

Oliver Twist Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Fagin gives Oliver new shoes, the next day, and says he is sending Oliver over to Sikes for a short while, although Oliver will not be living with Sikes forever. Fagin says, also, that Oliver ought to watch himself around Sikes, since Sikes is a dangerous man. Fagin gives Oliver a book of crime stories to read while he waits for Sikes, and Oliver, terrified by the book, resolves simply to wait by the fire without reading further.
Oliver is worried that Sikes will now be "in charge" of him, but Fagin assures him that this position is only temporary. Of course, Oliver knows better than to trust Fagin, and the book of scary crime stories seems to give evidence to the idea that Fagin has terrible things in store for Oliver—a dangerous criminal plot.
Themes
Thievery and Crime Theme Icon
Individualism and Social Bonds Theme Icon
Social Forces, Fate, and Free Will Theme Icon
City and Country Theme Icon
Nancy comes and tells Oliver it is time to go to Sikes. Oliver considers begging Nancy for her compassion, but decides to wait until later, since it is only eleven, and the streets are filled with witnesses who might see Oliver fleeing Fagin. Nancy, sensing this in Oliver, tells him she is doing all she can for his sake, but that, for right now, Oliver must follow her to Sikes—Nancy will try to make sure that Oliver is not ill-used by Sikes and Fagin, if she can.
Nancy's cleverness is underscored by the narrator. Nancy would like to help Oliver, but Nancy also knows that she must help him in the right way—subtly, without drawing the attention of Sikes or Fagin. Thus Nancy tells Oliver that he must be patient if she is to help him.
Themes
Thievery and Crime Theme Icon
Individualism and Social Bonds Theme Icon
Social Forces, Fate, and Free Will Theme Icon
Nancy brings Oliver to Sikes' apartment. Sikes, taking Oliver in, shows him a loaded gun, and threatens Oliver with it, in case Oliver should try to escape. Nancy prepares dinner and they all eat; Sikes tells Oliver that they will sleep for a time, then wake early in the morning to travel on their mission. Oliver lies awake all night, worried what will befall him the next day. As he is leaving in the morning, after a small breakfast, he tries to lock eyes with Nancy, as a sign that she is continuing to look out for him, but she turns away at the fire, while Oliver and Sikes head out the door.
Much of the suspense in the novel appears to take place in these "in-between" moments: in the preparation for major events that occur in the wee hours of the night or morning. Oliver's anxiety keeps him awake, but it should be noted that, despite his fears, Oliver is game for the attempt—he will go along with Sikes, and is courageous enough to test his mettle in whatever "adventure" Fagin has planned. Oliver is, in fact, both courageous and virtuous, whereas Sikes is only the former.
Themes
Thievery and Crime Theme Icon
Individualism and Social Bonds Theme Icon
Social Forces, Fate, and Free Will Theme Icon
City and Country Theme Icon