Study Guide

Great Expectations Chapter 16

By Charles Dickens

Chapter 16

  • There's a general consensus that one of the escaped convicts is to blame, since there's a convict's leg iron found at the scene of the crime.
  • But it's weird. The attacker struck Mrs. Joe from the back and didn't take anything in the house.
  • And it gets weirder: a prison ship guard says that the leg-iron wouldn't have been worn by a recent convict, since it's totally last year's model.
  • Pip suspects either Orlick or the mysterious man who gave him the two one-pound notes.
  • Sure, Orlick has the alibi of being out and about around town, but there was the little matter of him hiding out by the road.
  • Plus, if the mysterious man were to have asked Mrs. Joe for his money, she would have given to him, since she tried to give it to him in the first place.
  • In any case, the leg-iron is the one that his convict severed and left on the marshes those many years before. Pip feels REALLY guilty, like an accessory to his sister's assault.
  • Mrs. Joe has lost her hearing and can hardly see, and she can't move or talk without great difficulty. The family gives her a chalk board, but they have a hard time figuring out what she writes/draws.
  • Fortunately, Biddy comes to live with the Gargerys, and she understands Mrs. Joe really well.
  • One day, Mrs. Joe draws a picture of a hammer, and Biddy eventually realizes that she's asking for Orlick.
  • Orlick is brought to Mrs. Joe, and she's just delighted to see him. Orlick feels super awkward about the whole thing, but she asks for him every day.

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