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Great Expectations

Charles Dickens

Chapters 38–39

Summary Chapters 38–39

“Look’ee here, Pip. I’m your second father. You’re my son—more to me nor any son. I’ve put away money, only for you to spend.”

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The convict’s reference to himself as Pip’s “second father” in Chapter 39 allows us to track Pip’s development through a succession of father figures. The orphaned Pip identifies most closely with Joe as a father in the first section of the novel, and the blacksmith’s soft-spoken good nature most strongly defines his childhood. After the magical appearance of his wealth, adolescent Pip seems to treat Jaggers as a kind of distant father figure, referring to him repeatedly as “my guardian” and allowing him to set the parameters for his life in London. Now a young adult, Pip is confronted with the convict as an unwanted father, a relationship that will develop and deepen in the final section of the novel. With Pip’s discovery of his new father figure, this section ends on an extremely ominous note, as the morning sky is darkened by a violent storm. As setting is always connected to dramatic action and atmosphere in the world of Great Expectations, a storm can only mean that trouble lies ahead for Pip and his frightening benefactor.