Before Charles Dickens story of Great Expectations begins, Pip’s parents and brothers are killed.
Pip’s sister, his only living relative, becomes his guardian, and she marries the blacksmith Joe Gargery. Joe and Pip form a very close relationship. However, neither Joe nor Pip embrace a father-son relationship. Since Joe and Pip do not sustain a father-son relationship, but rather stay as two good friends, Joe’s values of honesty and hard work are not communicated to Pip.
However, the failure of Joe’s values to be communicated to Pip, do not reflect poorly on Pip, but rather, show the impossibility to expect that that should happen. Joe does not adopt a role as father for Pip. We see Joe’s reluctance to accept this role one night when a group was ‘assembled round the fire at the Three Jolly Bargemen’; (133). When Jaggers comes and offers to take Pip to London, Joe does feel as though he is losing something, but he certainly did not feel as though he was losing a son.Order now
We can learn more about Joe’s behaviour through what does not say than through what he does. After Jaggers reveals that he has ‘with an offer to relieve Joe of this young fellow,’; he continues, without a breath, and asks if Joe would like compensation. By not stopping to ask if Pip’s removal would be permissible, Jaggers assumes, and correctly, that it would not be a problem. Joe does not interrupt Jaggers to say that it would be a problem, and, in doing so, gives pip away without a thought.
Would a father give away his son, even if it was to the son’s benefit, without a thought? The reason that Joe does not interject is that he has not embraced the role of father. However, he clearly does act as a friend would. Had Joe been Pip’s father, or even acted as such, it would have been appropriate for Joe to determine whether or not Pip can leave. However, since Joe acts as Pip’s friend, it is not his place to make this decision.
Joe does not only passively take this role, though. He also behaves as Pip’s friend. Joe forcefully takes on the role of friend when he tells Jaggers that ‘Pip is that hearty welcome…to go free with his services, to honour and fortun”; (141). Prior to this, Joe was telling Jaggers that Pip was free to go through his own inaction, but with these words Joe tells Jaggers that Pip is free, and tells us that Pip is his friend.
Joe confirms this relationship after stating that Pip is ‘harty welcome.’; Joe considers he and Pip ‘ever the best of friends’; (141) . We can also see that the relationship between Pip and Joe is friendship when Pip comes back to the town. When Pip attempts to tell Joe his entire story, Joe cuts him off.
Joe says that since they are ‘ever the best of finds’; (468), they don’t need to ‘go into subjects…that must be forever unnecessary’; (468). Because Joe is Pip’s friend he doesn’t want to hear about Pip’s life away from him. If Joe was Pip’s father it would be his responsibility to listen to Pip. Pip accepts Joe is his role as a friend.
That night at the Three Jolly Bargemen, Joe tells Jaggers that they were ‘ever the best of friends,’; (141). Pip then tells us this: ‘I begged Joe to be comforted, for (as he said) we had ever been the best of friends, and (as I said) we ever would be so’; (142). Pip clearly considers Joe his friend. Although Pip accepts Joe as his friend, we do see Pip consider Joe to be his father.
Two values that are very important to Joe are honesty and hard work. After Pip lies top everyone about his experience at Havisham’s, he confesses to Joe and responds with a life lesson for Pip. ‘There’s one thing you may be sure of, Pip,’ said Joe, after some rumination, ‘namely, that lies is lies. However they come, they didn’t ought to come, and they come from the father of lies, and work round to the same.
Don’t you tell no more of ’em, Pip. That ain’t the way to get out of being common, old chap.’ (71). Honesty is one of the most important things in the world to Joe.
Under no circumstances is lying tolerable. In his simple manner, Joe tells Pip that lying is devilish and no way for someone who wants to be gentle to act. He also values hard work. We see Joe’s value of hard work in his ability to learn to read.
When he Pip is teaching Joe he says that he ‘never knew Joe to remember anything from one Sunday to another, or to acquire, under his tuition, any piece of information whatever,’; (109). But ultimately Joe does learn to read and write even though he was not ‘a oncommon scholar’; (71). Joe’s value of work is also seen in his value of meritorious reward. When Havisham pays Joe twenty-five guineas for the services rendered by Pip, Joe gladly accepts the money.
However, when Jaggers offers compensation for Pip, Joe refuses the money. In the first case, Pip had given a service and was deserving of payment, so Joe accepted the money. In the second case, no service had been rendered so Joe refuses to take money from Jaggers. Pip doesn’t values either of Joe’s values.
In his first interview with Havisham, Pip is asked if he is ‘afraid of a woman who has never seen the sun since he was born,’; (58). Pip then tells us that he ‘regrets to state that he was not afraid of telling the enormous lie comprehended in the answer ‘No,”; (58). Even as a young child Pip has no problem with lying. When Pip goes home from Havisham’s, he tells his family of the wonderful, amazing time he had there, even though ‘it’s lies’; (70).
During his concocted story Pip gives the following note: ‘I beg to observe that I think of myself with amazement, when I recall the lies I told on this occasion,’; (68). Pip is proud of the monstrous lies that he told to his family. Joe’s value of meritorious reward is not transmitted to Pip. Pip’s opinions of the forge suggest this.
Pip ‘had believed in the forge as the glowing road to manhood and independence. Within a single year, all this was changed. Now, it was all coarse and common,’; (107). Pip doesn’t feel that hard work is a sign of manhood, or dignity, or something to be proud of.
He only views it as dirty and common. This attitude becomes stronger until ultimately ‘the reality was in his hold, he only felt that he was dusty with the dust of small coal,’; (107). Now, work is not only dirty and common but those who think otherwise are deluded. By illustrating the nature of the relationship between Pip and Joe, Dickens shows us that we cannot expect Joe’s values to be transmitted to Pip.
Joe and pip are very clearly friends, and they both accept that relationship. Hoe does values honesty and hard work, and Pip does not. Although this would seem to reflect poorly on Pip’s character, it really does not. Joe is merely Pip’s guardian, as well as a friend, but not a father.
Pip’s failure to learn these values does not reflect on Pip, but on his surroundings.