On the way back to the forge with Joe and Mr. Wopsle, Pip is relieved that the convict has taken the blame for his theft and does not confess the truth to Joe. The adult Pip, narrating the story, speculates that he didn't confess to Joe because he was afraid Joe would think less of him. Pip notes that he "was too cowardly to do what I knew to be right, as I had been too cowardly to avoid what I knew to be wrong" when he had originally stole the food and file. Back at the forge, Mr. Wopsle and Uncle Pumblechook bicker about the most likely way the convict could have broken into Mrs. Joe's pantry. Pip, exhausted, falls swiftly asleep, but as narrator he notes that his conflicted state of mind persisted for a long time.
Pip chooses to protect his reputation with Joe rather than to honor his personal integrity and come clean. The choice between protecting reputation and honoring integrity is a major theme in the novel and will recur frequently. In choosing reputation, Pip sets a precedent for his character that will continue to shape his development.