Great Expectations

Why has Pip’s attitude toward home changed? What does this tell you about his character?

cps 8-14

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Pip stays away from Joe and Biddy's house and the forge, but walks around town, enjoying the admiring looks he gets from his past neighbors. This pleasant walk is disturbed by the Trabb boy who makes fun of Pip, imitating the snobbish way he walks and barking out, "Don't know yah!" to onlookers.

Pip continues to make decisions based on how he thinks society wants him to act -- he does not visit Joe and Biddy while he is home -- but as readers we recognize the fact that he feels guilt and shame about these decisions. Unlike Estella, Pip seems to wear his guilt on his sleeve, but his guilt shows him to have a conscience at least. Dickens uses guilt in Pip -- who seems to be the only one in the novel who experiences it -- to signal moments when Pip feels himself acting against his nature.

The Trabb boy's pranks nail Pip's shame right on the head, and his antics reflect what is going on in Pip's conscious. Pip feels he has become a parody, a proud peacock who "doesn't know yah." At the same time, Pip confesses to Herbert that he cannot let it go. He desires Estella deeply and can't seem to shake her. As long as he tries to be the person that Estella -- and society -- want, he will be acting against his nature.