Study Guide

Great Expectations Chapter 9

By Charles Dickens

Chapter 9

  • The next day, Pip's sister wants to know ALL the juicy details about Miss Havisham and Satis House, but Pip doesn't want to tell her.
  • For one, he doesn't think that anyone would believe his account of the old lady in an old wedding dress, and he also doesn't really want to subject Mrs. Havisham to any public criticism or mockery. For some reason.
  • When Mrs. Joe realizes she's not going to get the goods out of Pip, she pushes his forehead against the wall.
  • Then, Mr. Pumblechook comes over for tea, and, after unsuccessfully getting Pip to recite multiplication tables, he asks Pip for the gossip on Miss Havisham.
  • So Pip lies.
  • He lies that Miss Havisham lives in a black, velvet carriage that sits in her mansion. He lies that he ate cake and wine on gold plates in the carriage. He lies there were huge dogs eating veal-cutlets in silver baskets.
  • And he lies they played with flags. In his story, he, Estella, and Miss Havisham each had different colored flags, and they waved them around out the windows of the coach—which sounds like some bizarre piece of performance art.
  • At that point his well of lies is running dry and he's about to tell them that there was a bear in the cellar or a hot air balloon in the back yard, but the inquisition is over for the moment.
  • Later on, in the forge, Pip confesses to Joe that he made everything up because he's so bummed out about being "common."
  • He wants to be uncommon, see.
  • Joe shows a little folk-wisdom by telling Pip that he won't ever become uncommon if he keeps lying.
  • He also tells Pip that no one can become uncommon without being common first. Everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time, he says.
  • Pip goes to bed thinking about all the differences between Joe's house and Miss Havisham's house, and how so much had changed that day.
  • Narrator Pip (that would be the grown up Pip who's telling us this story) interjects to ask us to think about moments in our lives that change our path or direction forever.

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