Oliver Twist

discus the character of nancy

friend to fagin and bill sikes

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She seems to be reminded of her own lost innocence when she looks at Oliver. Soon after Oliver is stolen back from Mr. Brownlow’s house, she jumps to his defense for the first time, and yells at Fagin: "I thieved for you when I was a child not half as old as this (pointing to Oliver). I have been in the same trade, and in the same service, for twelve years since; don’t you know it? Speak out! don't you know it?" (16.82). This passage is the first that tells us Nancy’s age: if Oliver’s around ten or so at this point, and she’s been in Fagin’s employ since she was half that age, she must have started when she was five. And so now, twelve years later, she’s seventeen. Awfully young to be as jaded as she is, don’t you think? She tells Rose later that she’s younger than she looks, though "old in sin."


Oliver Twist