Oliver Twist: Chapter 19 - Summary & Analysis

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In which a Notable Plan is discussed and Determined on.


      It was damp and cold night. The chilly wind was blowing when Fagin came out of his dwelling and started walking towards a locality called Whitechapel. From there he started walking towards Spitalfields until he reached Bethnal Green. Afterward, he entered a road like riddle. Walking through the dirty streets he reached his destination. This was the house of William Sikes, a robber and house-breaker. Soon he was involved in an intimate talk with Sikes. Nancy also appeared there and after quarreling with Sikes, she got reconciled. Now she was perfectly at peace, without any ill-will against either Fagin or Sikes. Fagin asked Sikes about his next robbery. Sikes said that he had collected some information about a house which was their target to burgle. A fellow Toby Crackit had given him some information. Fagin asked if he could join him in committing this robbery. Sikes said that he required only the services of Toby Crackit and of a boy small enough to enter the house through an opening in the wall. Fagin said that he could provide him a boy suitable for this purpose. When Sikes asked who the boy was, Fagin named Oliver whom Sikes had already met and seen. Sikes also found Oliver most appropriate for his purposes.

      Sikes told Fagin to send Oliver to him. Fagin said that it was very necessary to involve Oliver in some robbery, so that he could never think of running away from him (Fagin); Once he committed a crime, he would be possessed by a constant fear that police might catch hold of him. This fear would stop him from running away. Fagin also expressed his views about giving a proper training to Oliver because he was going to be involved in a work which even twenty other boys would not be able to perform. All that required was to achieve a hold upon the boy which he would acquire only after making him actively involved in any criminal activities. It was then well-consented to persuade Oliver to join this robbery and to bring him to Sikes through the help of Nancy. Thus Nancy was again ready to serve them though she previously fought with them on Oliver's behalf. She had now agreed to fetch Oliver' to Sikes' house so that Sikes could instruct him accordingly.

Critical Analysis

      Although Fagin and Sikes are the birds of same feather yet they do not trust each other. Bill Sikes himself has to drink the alcohol to convince Fagin that he has not poisoned it.

      Fagin is humanized also in this chapter when he does not awaken the boy (Oliver) from his sleep and softly turns away, muttering "Tomorrow, Tomorrow."

      It looks odd that Nancy does not go against using Oliver in burglary. But it is very natural because she has accepted robbery as a means of livelihood and thus feels no objection in making Oliver involved in the criminal activities.

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