Chapter 54 (Volume 3, Chapter 15) (Instalment 33):

We take him on Board / A Four-oared Gallet about / The Galley boards us / I accompany the prisoner

Synopsis of Chapter 54 (Volume 3, Chapter 15) (Instalment 33)

Pip, Herbert and Startop set off in the boat and pick up Magwitch without incident. Magwitch is grateful and happy to be with Pip. They stay the night at a dirty but isolated inn, where they hear of the presence of a galley, which may contain customs officers.

In the night, Pip looks out of the window and sees two men examining their boat but decides not to wake Herbert and Startop. Next morning, they row towards the steamer that will take them abroad, but the galley appears and challenges them, using Magwitch's name. Compeyson is in the galley and Magwitch attacks him. The steamer hits Pip's boat, which sinks. Pip, Herbert and Startop are quickly rescued by the steamer, and soon the galley picks up Magwitch, but Compeyson cannot be found.

They return to the inn, where Pip cares for the badly injured Magwitch and vows to stay with him as long as he lives - his repugnance towards Magwitch has now gone and he sees only his generosity and constancy.

Commentary on Chapter 54 (Volume 3, Chapter 15) (Instalment 33)

The crisp air, … freshened me with new hope There is a change in tone from the horrors of the last chapter, and Pip can look forward to a new life.

It was like my own marsh country, flat and monotonous, and with a dim horizon. Pip seems to be returning to his starting point in life.

So the pocket-book which had once been in my hands, passed into the officer's Dickens makes it clear that Pip takes no more of Magwitch's money. This pocket-book, stuffed with money, had been given to Pip by Magwitch (see Ch. 40; Vol. 3 Ch. 1), but it is now lost to Pip for ever.

I only saw a man who had meant to be my benefactor … a much better man than I had been to Joe Compare Pip's feelings now with his feelings when Magwitch first appeared in his lodgings (Ch. 39; Vol. 2, Ch. 20). He now feels that he can learn, morally, from Magwitch.

Investigating Chapter 54 (Volume 3, Chapter 15) (Instalment 33)
  • Pip says, during the voyage down the river, ‘I think I know the delights of freedom'. What do you think he means by this?
  • How does Dickens help the reader to understand the change in Pip's attitude towards Magwitch?
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