Study Guide

Great Expectations Chapter 39

By Charles Dickens

Chapter 39

  • Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy BIRTHDAY dear Pi-ip…happy birthday to you.
  • Time has passed, and Pip is 23 years young. Herbert is off gallivanting in France, and Pip is all by his lonesome in the middle of a gigantic storm. The wind is howling. It's pitch black, and smoke keeps coming down the chimney. Outside, Pip watches lights being blown out.
  • All of a sudden, Pip hears footsteps on the stairwell. A singing telegram, perhaps, for the birthday boy?
  • Something tells us it's not a singing telegram. Pip thinks it's the ghost of his dead sister, which seems equally unlikely.
  • It's a stranger. And the stranger is looking for Mr. Pip.
  • Pip holds the light out for the stranger, and watches the man slowly climb the stairs.
  • He's happy to see Pip and Pip is totally weirded out until he suddenly recognizes the man.
  • IT'S HIS VERY OWN CONVICT. You know, the prisoner he fed when he was just a mini-Pip.
  • The convict embraces him, but Pip tells him to stay away. Pip says he hopes he's mended his ways, but that he doesn't want anything to do with a convict.
  • Pip brings him something to drink and realizes that the man has been crying. Pip feels guilty and apologizes for acting so meanly.
  • The convict holds Pip's hand, and Pip realizes what a softie he is, despite his freaky appearance.
  • The convict tells Pip he's been a sheep-farmer in New South Wales (a.k.a. Australia) all these years.
  • Pip tries to repay him for the money that the convict has sent him all those years ago by way of a messenger. The convict sees Pip's purse and wants to know how rich he is.
  • Gradually, after playing the guessing game, the convict reveals himself to be Pip's benevolent benefactor.
  • Pip is beside himself. He doesn't know whether to scratch his watch or wind his butt.
  • The convict waxes on about how he's made a gentleman out of Pip and about how he's certainly not done yet. He tells Pip how lonely he was herding sheep, and that, when he was in his darkest, most forlorn state of mind, he would imagine Pip and all would be well.
  • Pip has been his guiding light and his reason for being.
  • Whoa.
  • The convict continues to talk about how the world may not have destined him to be a gentleman, but he declares that, instead, he's created his very own gentleman, and that gentleman is Pip. The convict is proud of Pip and his fine gentlemanly things.
  • All Pip can think about is Estella.
  • Pip puts the convict to bed in Herbert's room after giving him a fancy nightgown.
  • Pip can't stop thinking about Miss Havisham and, more importantly, Estella. He realizes that Estella was never designed for him; that Miss Havisham was not his benefactor as he had believed for so long; and that his dreams of marrying Estella were impossible ones.
  • He's deserted Joe for a false dream.
  • The rain and the wind continue to rage, and Pip believes he hears pursuers on the stairwell. He becomes completely paranoid.
  • Pip falls asleep on the floor and wakes up at five in the morning to fiercer winds and heavier rains.
  • This ends the second stage of Pip's expectations.
  • Good thing, too, because we need a break.