Oliver Twist: Chapter 20 - Summary & Analysis

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Wherein Oliver is Delivered over to Mr. William Sikes.


      The next day, Oliver was given a new pair of shoes to put on. Fagin told him that in the night he would be taken to the residence of Sikes. Oliver, still did not know their intention for what he was going to visit Sikes' residence. Fagin warned Oliver not to misbehave when he went to Sikes because Sikes was a tyrant and would not tolerate any kind of treachery or disobedience. Oliver felt scared of Sikes after Fagin's warning.

      Fagin had given Oliver a book to read in his leisure time. This book contained the history of the lives and trials of great criminals. Oliver was reading several dreadful crimes which had been committed. He came to know about mysterious murders and bodies secretly buried in pits and wells. Oliver felt so terrified by these accounts of crimes that he stopped reading the book. He fell upon his knees and started praying to God to keep him away from such activities. He told to himself that he would prefer to die but did not indulge in so fearful crimes. He was still praying to god when Nancy entered Fagin's lodging. Fagin said to Oliver that Nancy would take him along to Sikes' residence.

      Oliver inwardly, had planned to shout for help while going through the streets with Nancy but she seemed to read his mind. She threatened him not to make any effort to run away or cry for help. She told him that once she had saved him from being beaten but if he would behave in adverse manner or go against her will, then she would not try to save him from anybody. She wanted him to obey her without any question.

      After a while, she took Oliver into the streets where a small carriage was waiting for them. She got into that carriage and pulled Oliver into that. The carriage started moving and finally stopped at the house where Sikes was living. Oliver, here, felt a strong impulse to shout for help but Nancy had again warned him against doing such activities. She led him in front of Sikes. Sikes felt happy to see Oliver and on finding him good for his purpose.

      Sikes showed a pistol to Oliver and said that he would fire upon him if he had disobeyed him and not followed his instructions. Then, he started drinking a good deal of liquor. After that he fell asleep and Oliver also, being much tired fell into slumber.

      When Oliver woke up in the morning he found Nancy preparing breakfast and Sikes was involved in collecting necessary tools which he had to use in the robbery. It was half past five in the morning, and sun had not still arisen and the sky was looking dark and cloudy. They all had their breakfast and then Sikes asked Oliver to follow him. He bade farewell to Nancy and then led Oliver away from the home.

Critical Analysis

      Nancy's character becomes more and more complicated. When she sees Oliver praying, his innocence touches her heart. But she is scared of her masters to make an effort to save Oliver. In fact, these complications persuade us for her important role that she would play in the second half of the novel.

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