by Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist Chapter 15 Summary
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 15
"Shewing How Very Fond of Oliver Twist, the Merry Old Jew and Miss Nancy Were"
- The chapter opens with a lengthy digression—Dickens starts out by describing (in detail) how he’s not going to talk about the kinds of people who don’t help the poor, and the reasons they make up to defend themselves, and he spends so much time telling us exactly what he’s not going to tell us about, that by the end, he has.
- And then we’re back in a public house with Bill Sikes and his dog.
- Sikes is clearly preoccupied about something, and decides to take it out on the dog, so he kicks it and swears at it.
- The dog grabs hold of his boot with its teeth, and so Sikes goes after it with the poker in one hand, and a pocketknife in the other.
- Fagin arrives just in time for the dog to make its escape out the front door.
- Sikes is angry that Fagin came between him and the dog, and Fagin tries to shrug it off.
- But then Sikes tells Fagin that he wishes Fagin had been in the dog’s shoes (not that dogs wear shoes…) a few minutes before. Fagin doesn’t think it’s a very funny joke, but then, Sikes probably wasn’t joking.
- Sikes tells Fagin that whatever happens to him, will happen to Fagin (in other words, if Sikes gets arrested, he’s ratting out Fagin).
- Fagin agrees that they "have a mutual interest" (15.19), and then they get down to business.
- Fagin pays Sikes a share of money (he doesn’t say what it’s for), and says that it’s more than it ought to be.
- Sikes looks at the amount, and clearly disagrees.
- Sikes rings a bell to call for the bartender.
- Barney (who is also Jewish, Dickens takes care to inform us) comes in to take Sikes’s order.
- He and Fagin exchange glances and communicate something through it that Sikes isn’t aware of.
- Fagin then asks Barney if anyone else is in the main part of the bar, and Barney tells him that no one is there but "Biss Dadsy" (Barney talks like he has a bad cold, apparently) (15.32).
- Sikes asks Barney to bring Nancy into the side room where they are.
- He asks her how her stalking is going, and she says it’s a pain—Oliver’s been sick and confined to the house, so she hasn’t made much headway.
- Fagin cuts her off in the middle of her story, as though he doesn’t want Sikes to know too much about it.
- So Nancy changes the subject, and eventually heads out with Sikes.
- Oliver, meanwhile, is off on his errand to deliver the books to the bookseller, and he’s taken a wrong turn. It’s not a very wrong turn, though, and he knows it’ll get him there eventually, so he doesn’t turn around.
- Too bad it’s a dark alley (if you’re an orphan and half the bad guys in the city have it in for you, you should avoid these) and too bad he runs into Nancy and Sikes.
- Nancy’s still in her "respectable sister" costume, and as soon as she sees Oliver she starts crying over him and pretending that he’s her little lost brother who ran away from home a month ago.
- She’s persuasive enough that everyone on the street around them starts scolding Oliver for being a bad boy, and for running away to join thieves and worrying his family like that. What a naughty boy!
- Even though Oliver loudly contradicts it all, Nancy’s act is better than his—everyone thinks he’s just trying to lie because he’s a hardened criminal and he wants to get back to his gang of thieves.
- So Nancy and Sikes drag Oliver back into the bad neighborhood they’d just come from, while Mrs. Bedwin, Mr. Brownlow, and Mr. Grimwig are back at the house in Pentonville wondering what’s become of him.
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 15