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Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist

by Charles Dickens

Oliver Twist Chapter 39 Summary

"Introduces Some Respectable Characters with whom the Reader is Already Acquainted, and Shows how Monks and the Jew Laid their Worthy Heads Together"

  • The chapter opens with Sikes grumpily asking what time it is.
  • He’s not in the same room he’d rented before the failed housebreaking attempt of a few months earlier, but it’s in the same dodgy part of town.
  • There’s not a lot of furniture, or much in the way of spare clothes in the room – apparently Sikes is pretty strapped for cash.
  • Sikes himself is lying in bed, wrapped in a big overcoat, and looking like a shadow of his former self. The dog is lying by the bed, occasionally growling at passing noises from the street. Nancy is sitting by the bed, looking thin and pale.
  • She asks how he’s feeling.
  • He responds with growls and grouchiness, and asks for help getting out of bed.
  • She helps, but he swears at her and smacks her.
  • She tears up, and faints.
  • Sikes isn’t used to this – usually Nancy’s hysterics are loud and violent, like we’ve seen before.
  • So Sikes calls for help.
  • Fagin looks in, and brings the Dodger and Charley Bates in to help bring Nancy around.
  • Nancy recovers, staggers to the bed, and lies down.
  • Sikes asks what Fagin is doing there, since he hasn’t seen him for weeks.
  • Fagin says that they’ve brought lots of goodies: rabbit pie (don’t knock it 'til you’ve tried it), special green tea, sugar, bread, butter, and cheese.
  • Sikes wants to know why they haven’t been by before, and have left him sick and weak without coming to help him out.
  • Fagin says he was out of town for part of the time, and unable to come for reasons he doesn’t like to repeat for the rest.
  • Sikes says he would have died, if it hadn’t been for "the girl."
  • Fagin reminds him that he wouldn’t have such a handy girl as Nancy around if it weren’t for him, and Nancy agrees.
  • Sikes eats, and Nancy does too, a little.
  • When he’s finished, Sikes tells Fagin that he needs some money.
  • Fagin insists that he doesn’t have any, but Sikes knows better. He sends Nancy with Fagin to pick up the cash and bring it back.
  • They arrive at Fagin’s house, and Toby Crackit is there. He’s just finished winning all of Tom Chitling’s money at cribbage.
  • Toby seems slightly embarrassed at being caught playing with someone as uncool as Tom Chitling (remember, Toby’s the coolest member of the gang).
  • Toby takes off (but he remembers to take his winnings with him).
  • Tom Chitling says that the money he lost to Toby is a small price to pay for the privilege of being seen in his company, because Toby’s the coolest.
  • Fagin says he agrees, and sends Tom, Charley, and the Dodger out to "work," leaving him alone with Nancy.
  • He takes a key to get the money (all the while insisting that there’s no money for him to lock up).
  • Just then, they hear a voice from the street.
  • Fagin’s too busy hiding his key to notice Nancy’s reaction – she tears off her bonnet and shawl, and sticks them under the table.
  • Fagin says that the visitor won’t be more than ten minutes, and goes down to let him in.
  • Monks comes into the room, and notices Nancy sitting there.
  • Rather than ask Nancy to leave, Fagin takes Monks to an upstairs room for their talk.
  • As soon as they’re gone, Nancy slips out of her shoes, pulls her skirt up so that it won’t rustle, and sneaks upstairs after them.
  • She listens for fifteen minutes, and slips back into the room (and into her shoes) just before Fagin comes back in (Monks goes straight outside).
  • Fagin remarks that she looks pale, but she blows it off, saying that it’s just because she’s been sitting in a stuffy room too long.
  • Fagin counts out the money for her, and she hurries out.
  • She starts to run in a direction away from her home with Sikes, then stops, cries, and heads home.
  • Sikes doesn’t notice anything unusual about her – he barely wakes up enough to ask if she’s gotten the money before going back to sleep.

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