Copyright

Great Expectations Chapter 16 Summary

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

In Chapter 16 of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Pip struggles with his role in his sister's attack. We also learn of Mrs. Joe's strange new affection for an unexpected person.

The Details of the Attack

In the beginning of chapter 16, Pip tries to work out how he may be connected to the attack on his sister. He recounts the details of the assault according to witnesses. Joe was at the bar until 9:45pm. A witness saw Mrs. Joe before 9:00pm, so the time of the attack was narrowed down to between 9:00 and 9:55, when Joe got home from the bar. When he arrived, nothing was stolen or disturbed aside from Mrs. Joe who lay bleeding on the floor.

The most important clue is a convict's leg-iron that has been filed off. Joe determines that the leg-iron is not from either of the convicts who escaped the night of the attack. Pip believes it is the leg-iron from the convict he helped years ago. Despite this, Pip does not think his convict was behind the attack. He believes it was either the strange man from the bar or Orlick.

Pip Feels Guilty about his Involvement

Pip feels guilty and wonders if he should tell Joe the entire story about helping the convict. Every day he debates telling Joe, and every day he decides that he is in too deep to stop. Pip explains that the secret ''had so grown into me and become a part of myself, that I could not tear it away.'' Pip also thinks Joe would not believe him. As Pip debates coming clean, he observes the police and investigators running in circles trying to figure out who was behind the attack.

Pip explains how his sister's life and mental abilities have changed since the attack. Her hearing, memory, and vision are all damaged. She hallucinates and can not speak clearly. Pip gives her a slate to write on to communicate. This causes problems since Joe can not read well and Mrs. Joe's penmanship is hard to decipher. On the positive side, she is not being a jerk anymore.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support