Oliver Twist Chapter 18 Summary
"How Oliver Passed his Time in the Improving Society of his Reputable Friends"
- The next day, the Dodger and Charley go out on "business," and Fagin gives Oliver a long lecture on ingratitude, winding up by telling him stories about all the other boys who had taken it into their heads to run away, and somehow ended up getting hanged for crimes they didn’t commit.
- Oliver is understandably alarmed.
- Oliver spends the rest of the day by himself, locked up in the room with the spiders and mice.
- He spends days and days like that. He’s very lonely.
- One day, the Dodger and Charley decide to hang out with Oliver a bit in the afternoon.
- They make him polish their boots, and chat with him about how great it is to be a "prig" (a thief).
- Oliver says he’d still rather not be one, thank you very much.
- The Dodger and Charley keep trying to talk it up – as a prig, you don’t have to be dependent on anybody because you make your own money, and you’re free to do what you want, etc.
- They tell him that he’ll end up one in any case, so he might as well just resign himself to it and get started, because he’s wasting time.
- The Dodger tries to justify it by saying that there will always be pickpockets, and it might as well be them.
- Fagin comes in just then, and is pleased as can be that the Dodger and Charley have been teaching Oliver to appreciate the fine art of "prigging".
- A new guy comes in: Tom Chitling. He’s about eighteen years old, and just got out of jail.
- Oliver doesn’t quite understand where Chitling’s been, because he hasn’t come out and said it.
- Chitling tells Oliver not to worry about it – he’ll find his own way there sooner or later.
- After this day, Oliver is rarely left alone anymore. He’s almost always with the boys, who play the old pickpocketing game with Fagin everyday for Oliver to watch, and Fagin tells funny stories about thefts he committed in younger days.
- The chapter ends on an ominous note: the narrator insinuates that the Fagin is slowly poisoning Oliver’s soul with all these stories to make thieving seem fun. Uh oh.