Pip receives a letter from Biddy informing him that Joe is travelling to London the next day with Mr. Wopsle and plans to visit Pip. She reminds Pip of Joe's goodness. Pip is distressed by the news and thinks that if he could pay to keep Joe away, he would. His only consolation is that Drummle won't see (and make fun of) Joe. Joe will come to the Barnard's Inn apartment, which Pip has recently decorated splendidly at enormous expense. Pip has also hired a servant boy (the Avenger) whom he dresses in fancy waistcoat and boots but has very little use for.
Pip fears that being seen associating with Joe will tarnish his reputation and upset his social status. Pip has invested extravagantly in the trappings of gentility, bolstering his social class with superficial status symbols just as he is also trying to turn himself into a gentleman through education.
When Joe arrives, Pip is painfully aware of his country manners, awkward clothes, and discomfort. Joe calls Pip Ôsir' against Pip's protests. He tells Pip Mr. Wopsle has left the village for London in order to pursue his dreams of acting, and hands Pip the playbill for Mr. Wopsle's first play. When Herbert leaves for work, Joe tells Pip he has only come to convey a message from Miss Havisham: that Estella is home and would like to see Pip. Joe says Biddy had encouraged him to tell Pip in person, then good-naturedly apologizes and says that he and Pip are now of different stations in life and shouldn't meet in public. He says his place is at the forge, blesses Pip, and leaves. Pip is impressed by Joe's dignity and runs after him, but Joe has disappeared.
Joe feels uncomfortable amidst Pip's ostentatiously lavish surroundings, but that discomfort is amplified hugely by Pip's obvious haughtiness and snobbery. Joe's explanation of their different stations displays Joe's integrity—he does not resent Pip's new social class nor does he wish to enter it himself. Pip recognizes Joe's integrity too late and chases him in vain. Like Pip, Mr. Wopsle has come to London to pursue his ambitions and craves opportunities not offered by village life.