Great Expectations

How does the “heavy slab” fall?

chapter 39. short

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In chapter 38 of Great Expectations, Pip makes a great allusion to something called the Eastern story. He does this in the end of the chapter as he describes how in building it took so much effort with a rope and the power of men to pull a heavy slab into place for a roof or high part of a building. This is important because the comparison he hopes to lead the reader to is the work that he has gone through to become a gentleman. He is the heavy slab that has taken all of this care, preparation, and work in order to produce the gentleman figure we see by this chapter. He hopes he is the built product for Estella and that he somehow still has a chance.

In chapter 39, Pip meets the convict and learns that his fate has been sealed not by Havisham in any way, but by this terrible figure of a man. Thus, all the work, the heavy slab, has fallen. This house that he was building has now crumbled.