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Summary Chapter 52


Fagin is in court, surrounded by eager eyes. He is immobile during the proceedings. The spectators all wish for him to be condemned. He distracts himself as the jury retires by looking at individuals, wondering what they have had for dinner and such.

The jury returns. He is found guilty and scheduled to die on Monday. When asked why he shouldn’t be put to death, Fagin replies he is an old man. The sentence remains unchanged.

The prisoners fall back as he approaches. People hiss and call him names. He shakes his fist at them, but the jailers drag him along.

He is put into a cell for the condemned by himself. He recalls that the judge sentenced him to be hanged. He remembers all the people he has known who have suffered the same fate. Some he sent to the gallows. Some he had even watched die.

He wishes for more light in the cell, which he imagines must have been the same one those others had stayed in. Later, the jailer appears with another prisoner and a candle. The chimes of the clock remind him he is closer to death. He drives away the men who come to pray for him.

As the last day approaches, Fagin becomes ill. People come to the prison to ask if he has been given a reprieve. Learning he has not, they look eagerly at where the scaffold will be built.

Mr. Brownlow comes with Oliver. They enter a delirious Fagin’s cell.

Mr. Brownlow asks about the papers Monks gave him. There is no hope for him, so he might as well tell them. Fagin gestures to Oliver, who comes to him. He tells Oliver where the papers are. Oliver wants to say a prayer for him, but Fagin wants to use him as a way to escape. The jailers separate them. Fagin screeches. Oliver falls into a swoon, frightened.

Outside, people are gathered around the scaffold, playing cards while they wait for the execution to occur.  

Charles Dickens