Pip’s sister is twenty years older than him. She is very much a disciplinarian of both her husband and brother, which earns her the approval of their neighbors.
Her husband, Joe Gargery, is good-natured and foolish—a strong man with a weak nature. Pip always assumed that his sister beat Joe into marriage, as she couldn’t have won him by her looks. Due to his child-like nature, Pip considers Joe his peer. Joe’s blacksmith forge is connected to the house.
Living under the tyranny of Mrs. Joe, Pip and Joe become close. When Pip returns from the graveyard, Joe tells him he is in trouble. His wife has been out many times looking for Pip, and the last time she went out with the switch.
Pip’s sister returns home and goes after him with the cane. Joe shelters Pip when she throws him. She demands to know where he’s been, making her worry. Pip tells her the church yard. She tells him he would have been buried alongside the rest of his siblings if not for her. She wonders why she bothered and vows she wouldn’t do it again. It is bad enough to be the wife of a blacksmith and to be part of the Gargery family without also being saddled with Pip. She prophesies that Pip and her husband will be the death of her, and they won’t manage that well without her.
Though Pip is hungry, he saves his bread for the convict and his friend. He hides it in his trousers. Joe notices that Pip’s bread is suddenly gone and assumes he gulped it down. His concern for Pip’s health catches his wife’s attention. She bangs Joe’s head against the wall when he doesn’t enlighten her. When she discovers what the fuss is about, she forces Pip and Joe to take a dose of Tar-water.
Pip is tormented by guilt of robbing his sister—for he considers the household hers even if Joe supports it. However, Pip is equally terrified of the convicts coming after him—and he doesn’t believe that his sister will help him.
It is Christmas Eve, and Pip has to stir the pudding. They hear guns going off in the distance. Joe tells him it means a convict has escaped. He mentions that they fired the guns the other night too. Pip asks where the guns fire from. His sister tells him they are fired from the Hulks, which are prison ships. Pip asks what types of people are sent to the Hulks. His sister, exasperated by his questions, tells him murderers and robbers are sent to the Hulks—and those people always began life by asking too many questions. She sends Pip to bed.
Pip believes that he is doomed to go to the Hulks. He does ask a lot of questions, and now he is planning to rob his sister’s pantry. Early in the morning, he takes food from the pantry and takes a file from Joe’s forge. He then heads towards the marshes.