News of Pip's fall from fortune has preceded him to the village and the staff at the Blue Boar treats him indifferently where it had once treated him lavishly. Pip doesn't mind. Uncle Pumblechook makes a great, obnoxious show of pitying Pip's new circumstances, then pontificating loudly on Pip's ingratitude when Pip says he has come to see Joe. Uncle Pumblechook proceeds to spread rumors about how ungrateful Pip was to Pumblechook's generosity.
As superficial villagers began to fawn over Pip as soon as they heard bout Pip's rise in fortune, they will now spurn him again once they hear of his decline. They cared for his money, not for him. Pip now realizes it is only his true friends who cared for him, and that was regardless of his money.
Pip walks to the forge, excited to be back and delighted to see the old familiar landscape. Upon returning home he discovers that Joe and Biddy have just been married that morning. They are overjoyed to see Pip and Pip congratulates them both tenderly and thanks them both for all they have done for him. He tells them that he is going abroad and will earn the money to repay Joe, though he will always be indebted to them. He asks them not to tell their future child of his prior ingratitude but only of his respect for them both.
Planning to propose to Biddy, Pip has, ironically, walked in on her wedding day. Joe and Biddy's marriage unites the novel's two moral heroes. But Pip reacts not with anger or dismay or resentment, but rather heartfelt joy at the happiness his two great friends have found in each other. He responds to their endless generosity to him with generosity of his own.
Pip moves to Cairo and joins Clarriker & Co. as a clerk, living with Herbert and Clara who have married after Mr. Barley's death. Years go by and Pip eventually becomes a partner in the house and repays his debts. He maintains close correspondence with Joe and Biddy. Eventually,, Clarriker reveals Pip's secret investment in Herbert and Herbert is surprised but wholly grateful. The firm prospers admirably, though not excessively, and Pip wonders how he could ever have doubted Herbert's ability to succeed in life.
Pip and Herbert may not be gentlemen of leisure, but they become respectably middle-class merchants of comfortable means—model participants in the Victorian era's capitalist economy. Pip realizes his earlier assessment of Herbert was based on his false ideas about social class, not a true measure of Herbert's abilities. And Pip's generosity is paid for by Herbert's gratefulness and friendship.