Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist Chapter 32 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Oliver, not only injured by the gunshot wound, also suffers from another fever, which causes him to lie in bed for many days. However the Maylies care for him with great interest, and soon he begins to regain his strength. Oliver asks Rose whether there is anything he can do to help the family, and Rose replies that, once Oliver's strength has returned, the family could use him around the house in "a hundred ways."
It is typical of Oliver that, even as he is on the brink of serious illness again, he is only worried about what he might contribute to the Maylie household. It later becomes clear that Oliver's presence is a gift enough—the Maylies are overjoyed to have a young boy in their midst.
Themes
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Individualism and Social Bonds Theme Icon
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Once Oliver is hardy enough to make the journey, he takes a wagon with Losborne back to London, in order to meet with Brownlow and Mrs. Bedwin, and to explain why he never returned from his trip to the bookseller's, so many weeks ago. As Losborne and Oliver are leaving Chertsey, however, Oliver spots the flop-house in Sudbury where he stayed, with Sikes and Crackit, the night before the robbery.
It does seem hard to imagine that this flop-house, which was more or less hidden when Oliver and Sikes approached it earlier, should be visible in broad daylight from the street—but the scene ensuing is powerful, and strange, enough to make this recognition worthwhile.
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Losborne, by nature an impetuous man, goes into the house to berate whomever is there, and finds a humpbacked old man, who claims to live there alone. Losborne says that the old man has been harboring criminals among him, but the old man replies that he has lived alone in the house for twenty-five years, and that Losborne is mistaken. Losborne, cowed by this embarrassing episode, returns to the carriage and to Oliver, convinced that Oliver simply got the house mixed up with another.
Dickens appears to be scrambling the readers' expectations in this scene. One would imagine that the house would have some kind of link to Crackit, or perhaps to Barney, but instead one finds an old hermit who has been living there several decades. This weird blip—either Oliver's mistake or a strange confusion of another kind—is never ironed out or explained in the novel.
Themes
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Losborne and Oliver head to Brownlow's house, where they ring and find a servant. This servant, however, tells the pair that Brownlow and all his house have decamped to the West Indies six weeks prior, and that they shall remain there for some time. Oliver is crestfallen at this, and though Oliver suggests they talk to the bookseller, Losborne says that is "enough disappointment for one day," and the two head back to Chertsey.
This seems like a hitch in Oliver's plans, an instance of bad luck no longer in keeping with his positive state of affairs. But Brownlow will return to the narrative quickly. The West Indies, like Australia in "Great Expectations," is a place so far away as to seem almost mythical—as though Brownlow had travelled all the way to the moon.
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In Chertsey, over the next several weeks, the weather grows warm, and Oliver has a wonderful time recuperating and living with the Maylies. Oliver begins studying with an old man, a tutor, since he has never had any formal education, and on Sundays he begins going to church with the Maylies, and sees his inherent virtue joined to traditional religious observance. Oliver often walks through the beautiful fields of Chertsey, a place prettier than any he has known, and spends three months of bliss with the Maylies and Losborne, who visits often from his home nearby.
This scene is one of the first of Oliver's encounters with the beautiful natural surroundings near the Maylies' home. Oliver was raised in a village in the countryside, but his life was mostly spent in institutions, thus he was not able, nor did he have the time, to run about and see grass, trees, sunlight. Then Oliver was taken in by Fagin and the boys in London, and those squalid city conditions, too, did not allow for much recreation. The depiction of the country is paradisiacal compared to Dickens squalid depictions of much of the city.
Themes
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Individualism and Social Bonds Theme Icon
Social Forces, Fate, and Free Will Theme Icon
City and Country Theme Icon