Study Guide

Great Expectations Chapter 15

By Charles Dickens

Chapter 15

  • When Pip has learned about all he can from Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt, he begs Biddy to teach him everything she knows. Which she does. Because unlike Estella, Biddy is actually a nice girl/woman.
  • He also tries to teach Joe everything that he learns in a way of helping Joe become more educated, and, thus, more worthy of Pip's company. How nice.
  • Pip and Joe go to the old Battery on the marshes for their lessons on Sundays, but Joe isn't the most attentive student.
  • Pip, too, spends most of his time looking at the sails on the horizon and dreaming of Estella and Satis House.
  • One Sunday, when Pip and Joe are hanging out at the battery, Pip asks Joe if he can take half a day off of work so that he can go visit Miss Havisham.
  • Joe doesn't think this is a good idea. He remembers Miss Havisham's last words warning Joe never to ask for more money than she's already given. Joe is worried that if Pip visits her, she will feel like he's returned to butter her up for more dough.
  • After they go back and forth, Joe finally agrees to give Pip a half day.
  • Pip isn't the only one at the smithy. Joe also employs a burly, gruff looking man named Orlick. Orlick hits things with his hammer in the smithy (wait, isn't the point of a smithy…?) and he's not too friendly.
  • When Orlick catches wind that Pip gets to take half a day off of work, Orlick has a conniption, extolling the inherent injustice of giving only one employee such a privilege.
  • Joe is befuddled, but then decides to give everybody a holiday in order to make everybody happy.
  • Mrs. Joe, however, overhears this ruling and bursts in upon the scene yelling and shouting at Joe for being such a fool as to let his employees walk all over him.
  • She calls Orlick names, so Orlick calls Mrs. Joe names and threatens her with violence.
  • Joe finally has to challenge Orlick to a fight to satisfy Mrs. Joe's notions of honor, and he knocks Orlick down faster than you can say "smithy."
  • We're guessing that the village blacksmith would win most fights.
  • Mrs. Joe faints, and Orlick slouches away with a bloody nose.
  • When Pip arrives at Miss Havisham's, Sarah Pocket almost refuses to let him in.
  • Miss Havisham tells him she won't give any more money, but Pip assures her he's just come to say hi and thanks.
  • Miss Havisham catches Pip looking around the room for signs of Estella. Oh, ho ho! Sorry, dude. Estella is in France learning to be a beautiful, educated woman way out of his reach.
  • As Pip is ejected onto the street, he feels even worse than he did before. We could have called that one, Pip.
  • He walks around the main street of town, looking at all of the shop windows and thinking about what he'd buy for himself if he were a gentleman.
  • Pip runs into Mr. Wopsle, who has just come out of the bookstore with a copy of The Tragedy of George Barnwell, a play. He invites Pip to come over to Mr. Pumblechook's house to read the play aloud. Fun times!
  • Under normal circumstances, Pip would never, ever hang out with Pumblechook, but since he's feeling so sad, he decides to accept the invitation.
  • The play reading doesn't end until 9:30 at night. He and Mr. Wopsle walk home together, and on their way they find Orlick crouching on the side of the road. It's a really misty night, so they can't tell what he's doing.
  • Something seems off about the guy, but he tells them that convicts have escaped from the prison ships, and that the prison ships are firing cannons to warn the local area.
  • The three men walk past the Three Jolly Bargemen, where there's mass chaos going on because of something that's happened at Pip's house.
  • And that something is Pip's sister lying unconscious in the kitchen, hit hard on the back of her head.