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Summary Chapter 39



Pip leaves Barnard’s Inn for the Temple. He and Herbert part for a year when Herbert goes on a business trip, but they remain good friends.

Pip is now twenty-three years old. Late one rainy night, he hears someone on the stairs. Inquiring who they want, the stranger replies Mr. Pip. The stranger seems glad to see Pip, and Pip resents him for it. The man seems to expect Pip to respond to him in a warm fashion. The man keeps holding out his hands as if to embrace Pip.

The man looks around the apartment in pleasure, as if he is responsible for it. Pip demands that the man state his business, and the stranger agrees but asks for the time to do it. The man asks if there is anyone else in the apartment. Pip realizes he knows this man—it is the convict he met years ago as a child.

The man reaches out to Pip, and Pip reluctantly shakes his hand. The convict tells Pip he had been noble, and the convict never forgot it. When the convict goes to embrace him, Pip pulls back. He tells the man that he hopes his gratitude caused him to alter his life. It wasn’t necessary for him to find Pip and thank him. Pip is about to tell him that they can’t keep company, but the words die out. He offers the man something to drink, which the stranger accepts. The convict’s eyes have tears. Pip apologizes for his harshness.

Pip asks what he does, and the convict replies he is a sheep farmer and stock breeder. He has done very well in the new world. Pip goes to pay back the two one pound notes. The convict asks how Pip has done well. Pip tells him.

The convict then reveals details about Pip’s income and the name of his guardian. Pip begins to put things together in horror. Disappointment, danger, and disgrace are among many consequences he faces. He starts to faint when the man leads him to the couch.

The convict tells Pip that he swore that every guinea he made would go to Pip. He would work hard so that Pip could have an easy life. Pip abhors the man despite the revelation that he is his benefactor.

The man tells Pip he is his second father. When he spent lonely years with only the sheep for company, he would picture Pip’s face. He is proud to see Pip as a gentleman. He is proud of Pip’s library.

The convict asks Pip if he ever suspected that he was his benefactor. Pip says never. The convict says it was him and only him—with the help of Mr. Jaggers.

The convict continues his story. His master had been a man like him. When he died, he left the convict money. When people looked their noses down on him, he took pride in knowing that he was creating a gentleman better than they.

The convict then asks where Pip plans to put him. Pip gives him Herbert’s room. The convict tells Pip he must be cautious. He had a life sentence. He’ll be executed if caught for coming back.

Pip does not hold an affection for this man. He isn’t grateful. He is upset to find out that Miss Havisham isn’t his benefactor. It means that Estella was never meant for him. He was merely a tool used to provoke her greedy relatives and for Estella to practice her wiles on.

He also regrets how he treated Joe. It had been justified when he thought he would get with Estella. He can’t undo what he has done and feels he can’t return to Joe and Biddy.

He is frightened of the convict. He doesn’t know the crimes the convict is guilty of. The man threatened him as a child. The convict was a monster that haunted his childhood.  

Charles Dickens