Study Guide

Great Expectations Chapter 7

By Charles Dickens

Chapter 7

  • Pip goes to school for an hour every day at Mr. Wopsle's great aunt's house. It's not exactly a rigorous education. Mr. Wopsle's great aunt sleeps through lessons, and then sometimes Mr. Wopsle performs Shakespeare and poetry for the students, with bloody sword and all.
  • At school, Pip encounters Biddy, Mr. Wopsle's great aunt's granddaughter. Biddy is an orphan, just like him.
  • She's a bit unkempt, but man can she run a store. She basically manages Mr. Wopsle's great aunt's grocery store, which happens to be in the schoolroom.
  • One night, Pip is practicing his writing with Joe, and he writes a letter to Joe. Despite the fact that it's functionally illiterate, Joe thinks this is pretty much the best thing since sliced bread.
  • Oh, turns out Joe isn't much for reading and writing. Here's why:
  • Joe explains that his father was an alcoholic and beat his mother often. Sometimes he and his mom would run away from his father, but his father always found them and always was convincingly penitent, only to relapse into a state of perpetual drunkenness.
  • Joe was forced to work as a little boy to support his dad's drinking habit, and, thus, never had time for school. In spite of this rough childhood, Joe loves both his father and his mother and was with them until their deaths.
  • This ends Joe's story.
  • After seeing his mother suffer so much, Joe tells Pip he tries to do anything Mrs. Gargery wants and to provide her with anything she needs. He's sorry he can't control her temper or her love of the Tickler, but he sure does love Pip.
  • Joe tells the story of how he insisted on adopting Pip, and Pip starts to cry. So do we.
  • It's super cold outside, and Joe is starting to worry about his wife, who is out visiting Mr. Pumblechook,
  • Suddenly, she arrives proclaiming that Miss Havisham, the Donald Trump of the marshes, has requested that Pip serve as a playmate to her daughter.
  • Pip has to spend the night at Mr. Pumblechook's that very night and will be taken to Miss Havisham's in the morning.
  • Pip is confused. But before he can be too confused, his sister pounces upon him and subjects him to serious deep cleaning and scrubbing before she sends him off into the freezing cold night air. Pip is sad. He's never left Joe before.

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