Great Expectations: Volume I


I have decided to post my favorite passage from each of the three volumes in Charles Dickens’ novel, Great Expectations. My choice from Volume I is a tie between three paragraphs from Chapter IX. The three paragraphs are each separated by a page. They are relatively related, given that they are part of a singular scene.

Joe speaks to Pip, after Pip has confessed that he lied to Joe and Mrs. Joe (Pip’s sister):

“There’s one thing you may be sure of, Pip,” said Joe, after some rumination, “namely, that lies is lies. Howsever they come, they didn’t ought to come, and they come from the father of lies, and work round to the same. Don’t you tell no more of ’em, Pip. That ain’t the way to get out of being common, old chap. And as to being common, I don’t make it out at all clear. You are oncommon in some things. You’re oncommon small. Likewise you’re a oncommon scholar.” (p. 83)

. . .

“Lookee here, Pip, at what is said to you by a true friend. Which this to you the true friend say. If you can’t get to be oncommon through going straight, you’ll never get to do it through going crooked. So don’t tell no more on ’em, Pip, and live well and die happy.” (p. 84)

Pip reflects on his conversation with Joe:

That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day. (p. 85)


2 thoughts on “Great Expectations: Volume I

  1. You’ll recall that I’ve chosen the second passage to appear on my classroom literary poster because of the wisdom it conveys about our aspirations for greatness and the need for integrity.


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