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Summary Chapter 18

 

Fagin lectures Oliver about being ungrateful the next day. Oliver had made them all worry, and then he tried to escape after they went to the trouble and expense to rescue him. He points out that if he hadn’t taken Oliver in originally, he would have starved to death. He tells Oliver about another ungrateful lad who went to the police and wound up getting hung. Fagin admits that he had some friends plant evidence against the boy, but it broke his heart that it had been necessary due to the boy’s betrayal. He tells Oliver that hanging is an unpleasant way to die, and he hopes Oliver will avoid that fate.

Oliver understands the veiled threats, and he already knows that the innocent can suffer the same fate as the guilty when they are found in the same company.

Oliver is locked up for several days. He thinks often of his kind friends, upset that they no doubt believe he is a thief. After a week, he is allowed access to other parts of the house—but he is still left alone.

One night, Dodger asks Oliver to clean his boots. Oliver is so lonely he is glad to do it for the company. Dodger comments that it is a pity that Oliver is not like him, and Bates agrees that Oliver doesn’t know what is in his best interest. They ask Oliver why he doesn’t become one of them. He’ll make his fortune and become a gentleman. Oliver says he doesn’t care for the work, and he wishes that Fagin would just release him.

They criticize Oliver for wanting to be dependent on his friends. They could never do that to a friend. Oliver points out they have no problem in letting friends pay for their crimes. They tell him that the police know they work for Fagin, and they couldn’t endanger him.

They tell Oliver he had better get into the business. He is destined to resort to it. They regale Oliver about their exciting life and advise him to get into Fagin’s trust. If they didn’t rob people, someone else would—so they might as well profit.

Fagin enters, agreeing with Dodger. Miss Betsy and Tom Chitling are with him. Chitling is rather unkempt, having just been released from prison. Though older, he is deferential to Dodger.

Fagin and the others tell Oliver the perks of their vocation. Dodger’s talents are praised. Oliver, from then on, is left in the company of the boys. They play the pocket game with Fagin. Fagin tells them about his youthful days as a pickpocket, which amuses Oliver despite himself.

Fagin is working on Oliver’s mind, slowly trying to poison it.  

Charles Dickens