© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist


by Charles Dickens

Oliver Twist Chapter 39 Summary

READ THE BOOK: Chapter 39

"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.
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 39

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...