Pip’s sister is more than twenty years older than him, and she’s ugly. She’s famous in the neighborhood for having raised Pip "by hand." This phrase can just mean that he was bottle-fed (fancy!) but there's probably a bit more to it than that. We think it means that she chose not to leave him out on the street, but instead adopted him and raised him herself. It also might have to do with her being a fan of corporal punishment.
Pip’s uncle, Joe Gargery, is pretty much Pip’s best friend in the whole wide world. He has big blue eyes and is really, really nice. Joe is a blacksmith and his smithy is attached to the Gargery house. Even six-year-old Pip can’t figure out why a man as gentle and sweet as Joe would ever marry a woman as mean and hard as his sister.
So Pip gets back from being hanged upside down by a terrifying escaped convict, only to find that his sister has been out looking for him, that she is furious he’s been gone so long, and that she plans to use the Tickler on him. The Tickler is her favorite torture device. It is a wax-ended cane.
She returns full of fury and wrath.
Pip stuffs his buttered bread (a.k.a. dinner) down his pants without Joe or his sister noticing. They think he’s eaten it whole, and his sister threatens to make him drink tar water to make him digest better.
Pip hears guns being fired in the distance. The convict ships that hang out in the marshes/estuary in this part of England fire big guns anytime a prisoner escapes. Pip continues to be thoroughly freaked out.
Oh, by the way, it’s Christmas Eve, and Pip has to stir the Christmas pudding for a long time. He doesn’t have an opportunity to pilfer food for his convict. Shucks.
After no sleep, he wakes up at the crack of dawn and steals a delicious pork-pie, brandy, some bread, mincemeat, and a meat bone. He grabs a file from Joe’s smithy, and he runs off into the marshes. There’s a lot of marsh-running in this novel.