Oliver Twist Chapter 44 Summary
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"The Time Arrives for Nancy to Redeem her Pledge to Rose Maylie. She Fails."
- Although Nancy is sure that she’s done the right thing by going to Rose Maylie, she’s still pretty conflicted about the idea of betraying Sikes and Fagin.
- She’s so stressed out about it that she loses sleep, and becomes "pale and thin" in just a few days.
- Everyone notices the change in her, but they don’t know the cause.
- It’s Sunday night, and the clock strikes eleven.
- Fagin and Sikes are talking —it’s a good night for housebreaking ("dark and heavy"), but there’s no work to be done. Fagin tries to be friendly to Sikes, but Sikes insults him.
- Nancy puts on her bonnet and starts to leave, but Sikes asks her where she’s going.
- She just says, "not far," and insists that she be allowed to go out—she says she’s getting cabin fever, sitting cooped up in the small apartment all the time.
- Sikes suggests that she stick her head out the window if she wants fresh air, and refuses to let her go.
- Nancy gets hysterical, and Sikes thinks that she’s gone crazy.
- Nancy appeals to Fagin, but Fagin stays out of it.
- Sikes keeps her in the house by force, and Nancy struggles and begs to go until the clock strikes midnight, and then stops bothering.
- Sikes goes back out to Fagin, and says it was just the "fever in her blood," or else "woman’s obstinacy," but Fagin doesn’t seem so sure.
- He keeps his opinions to himself, though, and takes Nancy aside for a moment on his way out the door. He tells Nancy that he knows that Sikes is terrible to her, and assures her that if she needs any help from him, she’ll have it.
- Nancy doesn’t really respond, but lets him out the door and says goodnight.
- Fagin heads home, thinking it all over: he assumes that Nancy’s gotten tired of Sikes’s brutality, and has found a new boyfriend that she was going to meet. But the new boyfriend isn’t part of the gang, and so Fagin needs to know who it is, so that he can control them both.
- Fagin has another consideration: he really hates Sikes, and Sikes knows too much about all of his plans. What, he muses, are the odds of using Nancy’s new boyfriend as leverage to get Nancy to do away with Sikes?
- Fagin walks home, considering the best way to persuade/coerce Nancy into killing Sikes—he decides that if he could only figure out who the new boyfriend is, he could threaten to reveal the whole affair to Sikes (who would kill her if he found out), and so Nancy would agree to Fagin’s plan to save her own life, and the life of her new boyfriend.
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