Chapter 6 (Volume 1, Chapter 6) (Instalment 4):

The journey back

Synopsis of Chapter 6 (Volume 1, Chapter 6) (Instalment 4)

The first part of the chapter is detached from the chronological time frame of the story and is a reflection on the nature of Pip's guilt and remorse concerning the stolen food. He feels no guilt towards his sister, but feels guilty about stealing Joe's file. He decides not to confess, however, because he doesn't want Joe to think badly of him and is aware of his own moral cowardice. Exhausted, he goes to bed occupied by these thoughts.

Commentary on Chapter 6 (Volume 1, Chapter 6) (Instalment 4)

I was too cowardly … what I knew to be wrong Pip's childhood moral dilemma is made clear by the adult Pip.

Mr.Wopsle was in such a bad temper … excommunicated the whole expedition Excommunication is a severe church punishment which excludes someone guilty of very serious sin from the Christian community. By combining a reference to Mr.Wopsle's ambitions to be a clergyman with a description of his bad temper, Dickens also shows how unsuitable he would have been for that role.

As I came to myself … from my sister) Mrs. Joe's treatment of Pip is painfully contrasted with Joe's.

which was not calculated to inspire confidence This sounds like an adult's phrase, but Pip's estimate of the foolishness of Mr.Wopsle is made clear.

Investigating Chapter 6 (Volume 1, Chapter 6) (Instalment 4)
  • Go through the chapter highlighting where the older Pip commentates on the scene:
    • What is the effect of Dickens interweaving his narrative with this commentary delivered by the older Pip?
  • Re-read the paragraph beginning ‘As I was sleepy before we were far away from the prison-ship...'
    • How does Dickens develop the character of Mr.Wopsle here?
  • Highlight those sentences depicting Pip's agonies when conscience conflicts with human sympathy.
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