Summary: Chapter 42

Noah Claypole and Charlotte flee to London after robbing Mr. Sowerberry. They stop at the Three Cripples inn, where they meet Fagin and Barney. Fagin invites Noah to join his gang, assigning him to rob children.

Summary: Chapter 43

Noah meets Fagin at his home. The Artful Dodger has been arrested for attempting to pick a pocket. Noah’s first job is to go to the police station to watch the Dodger’s trial. The Dodger, joking all the while, is convicted and sentenced to transportation. Noah hurries back to tell Fagin.

Summary: Chapter 44

Fagin is visiting Sikes when Nancy tries to leave for London Bridge at eleven on Sunday. Sikes drags her into another room and restrains her for an hour. When he departs, Fagin asks that Nancy conduct him downstairs. He whispers to her that he will help her leave the brute Sikes if she wants. Fagin imagines that Nancy has wanted to meet a new lover that night. He hopes to persuade her to murder Sikes and bring her new love into his gang, so he can solidify his control over her. He plans to watch her in order to discover the identity of her new love, hoping to blackmail her with this information.

Summary: Chapter 45

Fagin tells Noah that he will pay him a pound to follow Nancy. The following Sunday, when Sikes is away, he takes Noah to Sikes’s residence. At eleven, Nancy leaves the apartment. Noah follows at a discreet distance.

Summary: Chapter 46

Nancy meets Mr. Brownlow and Rose on London Bridge and leads them to a secluded spot. Noah hears Nancy beg them to ensure that none of her associates get into trouble because of her choice to help Oliver. They agree, and Nancy tells them when they will most likely see Monks visiting the public house. They hope to catch Monks and force the truth about Oliver from him. Nancy’s description of Monks startles Mr. Brownlow, who appears to know him. Brownlow begs Nancy to accept their help, but she says that she is chained to her life. He and Rose depart. Nancy cries violently and then heads for home. Noah hurries to Fagin’s house.

Summary: Chapter 47

When Sikes delivers stolen goods to Fagin that night, Fagin and Noah relate the details of Nancy’s trip. Fagin does not tell Sikes that Nancy insisted that her associates not get into trouble. In a rage, Sikes rushes home and beats Nancy to death while she begs for mercy.

Summary: Chapter 48

He threw himself upon the road—on his back upon the road. At his head it stood, silent, erect, and still—a living grave-stone, with its epitaph in blood.

See Important Quotations Explained

In the morning, Sikes flees London, seeing suspicious looks everywhere. He stops at a country inn to eat. Seeing a bloodstain on Sikes’s hat, a salesman grabs it to demonstrate the quality of his stain remover. Sikes flees the inn. He overhears some men talking about the murder at the post office. He wanders the road, haunted by the image of Nancy’s dead eyes. A local barn catches fire, and Sikes helps put out the fire. Sikes decides to return to London and hide. Afraid that his dog, Bull’s-eye, will give him away, he tries to drown the animal, but it escapes.

Analysis: Chapters 42–48

Although Fagin claims to be in partnership with his associates, protecting them in exchange for their loyalty, in the end, he manipulates them so that his own self-interest is better served. He watches the people around him with special care and translates his knowledge about them into power. A prime example of this strategy is his hope to use Nancy’s possible lover to control her through blackmail. Even worse, he reveals Nancy’s betrayal of the band’s code of silence to Sikes in the worst, most treacherous light possible. He describes her actions in such a way as to inspire Sikes’s murderous rage. Having Nancy killed is at least as beneficial to Fagin as to Sikes, but Fagin is unwilling to risk doing the deed himself. Instead, he uses his knowledge about Nancy and about Sikes’s character to manipulate Sikes into committing the horrible crime.

Read more about the theme of purity in a corrupt city.

Oliver Twist explores different varieties of justice—that served by the English court system; spiritual or godly justice; and, with Sikes’s crime, personal justice, or the torments of conscience. Justice for Sikes’s “foulest and most cruel” of crimes is served almost instantly, as Sikes’s guilt immediately subjects him to horrific mental torture. The passages exploring his mental state are among the most psychologically intricate in the novel. Sikes cannot cleanse himself of Nancy’s blood, either figuratively or literally. Visions of Nancy’s dead eyes disturb him greatly, and he fears being seen. During his desperate flight from London, he feels as though everyone is watching suspiciously. Sikes’s remorse and paranoia shape and twist the world around him. The traveling salesman who claims to offer “the infallible and invaluable composition for removing all sorts of stain,” including bloodstains, is so canny in his offer to help Sikes remove his stains that the salesman could almost be a figment of Sikes’s haunted imagination. Likewise, the burning barn, which essentially serves no purpose in the plot, seems to be a herald of the fires of hell Sikes sees in his future.

Read more about how the novel’s portrait of legal justice changes by the end of the novel.

Unlike Oliver, who spends much of the novel trying to discover his identity, Sikes desperately wishes to hide his identity. However, his dog, Bull’s-eye, acts as a kind of walking name tag. The animal follows him everywhere. Indeed, Sikes’s animal even leaves his mark at the scene of the crime—his bloodstained footprints cover the room where Nancy is killed. Bull’s-eye often functions as an alter ego for Sikes: the animal is vicious and brutal, just like its owner. Sikes’s desire to kill the dog symbolically and psychologically represents a desire to kill himself, the murderer he has become.

Read more about the bull’s-eye as a symbol.