Oliver Twist: Chapter 16 - Summary & Analysis

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Relates what became of Oliver Twist after he had been claimed by Nancy.


Nancy and Sikes took Oliver Away

      It was very dark and foggy night. Oliver was taken forcibly and against his wishes to some place by Nancy and Sikes. Church Bell now struck eight o'clock. Nancy informed them that few old associates of Sikes were going to be hanged in the jail very much close to them. Sikes said that there was no need to think about them because they were going to meet their end. After walking about half an hour, they reached a place where Fagin was expected to meet.

      Fagin became extremely happy when he was informed that Nancy and Sikes had caught hold of Oliver and brought him there. Dodger and Bates also reached there and became very happy to see Oliver. Now a quarrel started between Fagin and Sikes. They had got five pounds note from Oliver's pocket. Fagin claimed it for himself and William Sikes argued that it must be given to him and Fagin should take those books which Oliver had to return to the owner of book stall. Ultimately Sikes, will be prevailed. Oliver made an appeal to them that books should be sent back to his benefactor but nobody listened to him. Oliver was even ready to serve his whole life for them if those books would be returned to that old man. But no one had shown pity on him.

      Oliver fell upon the foot of Fagin and requested Fagin to return the books to Mr. Brownlow otherwise he would think him a thief. But Fagin said that it would be better for him if Brownlow were thought him a thief. Thus he picked out Oliver's entreaty. Oliver first became desperate but then furious. He started shrieking for help but soon caught by Sikes. Sikes' dog was about to attack Oliver but Nancy shouted on Sikes to stop his dog from attacking. Sikes did not like Nancy's favor and pleading on behalf of Oliver. He said that she had gone mad. Nancy answered back that she was not mad but she did not want Oliver to be treated in such a brutal way.

      Nancy now took Oliver aside against the cruel men like Sikes and Fagin. Fagin, in order to subdue Oliver, gave him a heavy blow and was about to give another when Nancy stopped him rushing forward. She said that he must be satisfied with only possessing the boy. There was no reason to beat Oliver so mercilessly. She further said that under Fagin’s care the boy would become a thief, a devil and therefore he should feel over-satisfied. She made him recall that she herself was turned by him into a thief when she was too young, and she had been serving him for last twelve years, earning her bread through crime under his guidance. She asked him what did he want more? But Fagin remained unmoved and wanted to thrash Oliver. This made Nancy rush to Fagin and was about to scratched his face, if not seized by Sikes. Nancy struggled to come out from Sikes hold and got fainted. Right that moment Betsy arrived there and got involved in reviving Nancy from her unconscious state.

Critical Analysis

      It is very interesting to notice that all the members of underworld are bound together not by any mutual confidence but mutual mistrust. They are equally afraid of one another as well as of police. Sikes threatens Fagin that if his life is forfeited, he would not hesitate to go against him.

      Nancy comes out as capable of exercising her independence, though she is fully under the control of Sikes and Fagin who exploit her to gain more money. She goes against her masters and saves Oliver from being brutally beaten.

      Nancy plays an important role in restoring Oliver's life.

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