Mr. Pip


Lloyd Jones

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Mr. Pip: Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Mr. Watts’s readings of Great Expectations continued. Once again, Dolores returned to the classroom, this time telling the students that the “job” of a story should be to teach something. She proceeded to relate a tale from her childhood, in which she and her friends came upon an old woman who lived alone and who Dolores asserted was “the first devil” she ever met. After demonstrating her powers by turning into a strange black bird, the woman told Dolores and her friends to steal money from the church collection the following Sunday, threatening to extract their eyeballs if they failed to comply. By Sunday, though, the children had decided not to steal for this devil, determining that “the lesser darkness” of having their eyes snatched from their heads was preferable to the greater darkness of true damnation. Sure enough, nothing happened, and the minister praised the children, telling them that the devil had been sent to test them and that they had passed.
In this moment, it seems Dolores understands that storytelling is the best way to win people over. Knowing that she must compete against the compelling plot of Great Expectations, she narrates this childhood tale in the hopes of enthralling her student listeners and protecting them from the secular world to which Mr. Watts exposes them. Once again, storytelling is portrayed as a powerful tool.
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