Mr. Pip


Lloyd Jones

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Mr. Pip: Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

When the “redskin” soldiers left, Matilda returned home before her mother and found that the only item left in their house was an old sleeping mat that belonged to her father, something the soldiers probably missed because it was stored in the house’s rafters. Thinking that the mat would be a nice surprise for her mother—one that might cheer her up—Matilda took it down and unrolled it. In doing so, she found Mr. Watts’s copy of Great Expectations stashed covertly in the middle. Although she felt betrayed by her mother in that moment, she also understood why Dolores was unable to produce the book when the “redskin” officer asked for it. She writes, “If she had run back to our house to produce the book she would have had to explain how it got there in the first place. For the same reason, I could not give the book back to Mr. Watts. […] To do so would be to betray my mum.”
Matilda’s idea regarding betrayal implicitly gives rise to the notion that Mr. Watts and her mother are on two distinctly different sides of a problem. Unfortunately, Matilda—who is so adept in borrowing bits and pieces from different worldviews—is caught between her teacher and her mother. This dilemma is reminiscent of the structures of the Bougainville Civil War: if Dolores and Mr. Watts represent the two warring military forces, Matilda represents the villages who wish to occupy a neutral gray area in the conflict.
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