Study Guide

Great Expectations Chapter 54

By Charles Dickens

Chapter 54

  • It's a chilly but sunny March day. Today's the day Pip and Magwitch will escape to freedom. Besides being a little hesitant, Pip is ready to roll.
  • Pip, Startop, and Herbert row over to Clara's house where they pick up Magwitch. Magwitch has dressed as a river captain for the occasion, which is pretty awesome.
  • Everything is going so well. There's not much traffic on the water, and the rowing is easy. Herbert and Startop are rowing, Pip is steering, and Magwitch is dragging his hand in the water, philosophizing about life and about freedom.
  • The boys stop for beer and picnic, which seems a little casual for a life and death escape if you ask us.
  • Suddenly everyone feels a little weird and unsettled. Pip is worried that someone is following them. They keep rowing towards the ocean and towards freedom, but it's getting late. They see a little inn by the water called the Ship, and they decide to stay there for the night.
  • The Ship is totally dirty and is pretty much a roach motel, but the boys are happy. It's warm, dry, and there's bacon.
  • One of the Ship attendants says he saw a strange boat hanging out in the distance. Pip is freaked out, but everyone decides to go to bed.
  • There are dirty clothes under the beds, but everyone is grateful for sleep. Pip wakes up in the middle of the night and goes to the window. He sees strange men checking out their boat. At this point, he's REALLY worried.
  • They wake up early the next morning and head out, aiming for a German ship that will take Pip and Magwitch to Hamburg.
  • But then they realize that a boat really IS following them. As the boat gets closer, they try to row harder, but to no avail.
  • Magwitch realizes that Compeyson is in the boat. He lunges after Compeyson, and the two disappear below the water. Magwitch eventually resurfaces, but Compeyson doesn't.
  • Magwitch is deeply wounded, and the police take him to shore. Pip buys him dry clothes, but has to give Magwitch's pocketbook (and money) to the authorities.
  • Pip tells Magwitch he will never leave his side.