The Bible appears in Mister Pip as a counterpoint to Great Expectations and its secular framing of what it means to be a moral person. Suspicious of ideas that threaten the stability of her traditional beliefs, Dolores invests herself in the Bible (which she calls the “Good Book”), calling upon it to support her ideas about right and wrong. For her, morality is inherently rooted in religion, and a strong familiarity with the Bible ensures a person’s goodness. Interestingly enough, though, her commitment to scripture also symbolizes the notion of hybridity, since her foundational beliefs are a mixture of old Bougainvillean island lore and the Biblical teachings of Christian missionaries who visited the village before she was born. As a result, she is just as likely to refer to “the wisdom of crabs” as she is to quote the opening lines of Genesis. For her, these two traditions are one and the same. For example, to explain why women in her community have always braided their hair, Dolores upholds that “when you bring two strands of hair together and tease them into rope you begin to understand the idea of partnership…and you understand how God and the devil know each other.” This assertion combines the customs of Bougainvillean women with the concept of right and wrong—a concept that draws upon the Bible’s depiction of God and the devil. As a result, Dolores uses the Bible to resist the outside influence of Great Expectations even as the Bible itself represents the cultural hybridity at play in her own personality and culture.
The Bible Quotes in Mr. Pip
Now listen. Faith is like oxygen. It keeps you afloat at all times. Sometimes you need it. Sometimes you don’t. But when you do need it you better be practiced at having faith, otherwise it won’t work. That’s why the missionaries built all the churches. Before we got those churches we weren’t practicing enough. That’s what prayers are for—practice, children. Practice.