Oliver Twist: Chapter 48 - Summary & Analysis

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The Flight of Sikes.


Sikes Effort to Escape

      Now the morning approached and Sikes had to decide what to do. He could not prolong his stay in the house because Nancy's dead body was there. Sikes locked the door and started an aimless journey. He passed through various localities and then walked towards the villages of Hampstead and Highgate. After walking several miles he felt hungry. At nine o'clock in the night, he entered a small public-house, where Sikes ate and drank. He was followed by his dog all the way and even now his dog was with him. Sikes, suddenly got afraid to see a bloodstain on his hat, at the thought of this might be seen by somebody Sikes immediately left the public house. Near a post office, he overheard someone talking about a frightful murder of a lady in London. He was overwhelmed by fear, it became an intense agony for him. The thought of murder became an obsession for him. It was night thus he had to stop his journey. He spent the night under a shed and he was all the time terrified and mentally tormented. Suddenly, he heard a noise and saw fire at a distance. He ran towards the spot and saw the whole village had caught fire. Men were shouting and shrieking. Sikes threw himself to save the poor villagers. Then he overheard the firemen who had come to this village from London, discussing about the dreadful murder of a woman in the city. He said that the murderer had gone to Birmingham and police would soon caught him. Thereupon Sikes decided to go back to London because police would search for him in Birmingham, not in London.

Sikes Decision to Kill the Dog

      When Sikes entered the city, he decided to kill his dog because people might have recognized him through his dog which always had accompanied him. He tried to drown the dog but failed because the dog had somehow smelt his master's intention and moved away.

Critical Analysis

      Dickens shows a great insight into the psychology of a murderer when he makes Sikes run away after the murder.

      Due to the sense of terror, Sikes wanders aimlessly here and there. He faces isolation from inside because of the horror of this stain. His burden is so heavy that he is eager to help in extinguishing a fire. He does it to forget the terror though momentarily.

      It is very ironic that a man who had killed a lady who loved him ardently becomes unsuccessful to murder his dog.

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