Oliver Twist: Chapter 5 - Summary & Analysis

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Oliver mingles with New Associates. Going to a Funeral for the First Time, he forms an Unfavourable Notion of his Master's Business


Noah's Kick to Oliver

      Oliver looked around with a feeling of terror. Being placed in an alien place and in such frightening surroundings, Oliver felt most pitiable. He had no memory of someone whoever had loved him or shown pity on him. He was heavy with sadness and sorrow. He kept on brooding over his miserable condition and fell asleep. In the morning, Oliver was awakened by a strong kick at the door. When he opened the door, he found a boy older than him and whose name was Noah Claypole. He spoke to Oliver in a threatening manner that he would teach him manners. He gave Oliver a kick by calling him a ruffian. Soon, Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry arrived there and Charlotte had put some bits of food and tea for his breakfast near the fire in the kitchen. She told him to take his breakfast and ate there in the corner. She also asked him to hurry up. Oliver ate those stale pieces of food given to him.

Noah's Background

      Noah Claypole was also a charity boy but he thought himself superior to Oliver because Noah was not an orphan. He knew his parents very well. His mother was a washerwoman and father was a drunken soldier, having one wooden leg and discharged from army. The shop boys all the time, make fun of Noah and he was used to bear that without opening his mouth. Now fortune had given him an orphan, thus he was superior to him and he could ill-treat him anyway and bully him in order to take revenge upon these boys who always insulted him.

Oliver was taken to the Funeral of a Dead Poor Lady

      Oliver was getting accustomed to the 'mysteries of the trade'. Mr. Sowerberry found him good as mute (mourner) leading a funeral procession. Mrs. Sowerberry agreed to it and in this course, Oliver was taken to a house where a woman had died. When Oliver and Mr. Sowerberry reached there they saw the husband of that dead lady in a state of frenzy. He told them bursting into tears, "she was starved to death. I never knew how bad she was, till the fever came upon her; and then the bones were starting through the skin. There was neither fire nor candle; she died in the dark-in the dark!.... I begged for her in the streets: and they sent me to prison. When I came back, she was dying; and all the blood in my heart has dried up, for they starved her to death." The mother of dead woman said that she who had given her birth was still alive but her daughter was dead there cold and stiff.

The Funeral Scene

      Next day, the dead body was taken to the church for burial. The priest was absent and the old man and woman had to wait in the damp clay with rain drizzling down. Some notorious boys were playing there the game of hiding and seek, amidst the tombstones making too noise. They were jumping backward and forward over the coffin. The clergyman came after an hour and just in four minutes read for burial services and walked away. The crazy woman was crying after the loss of the clock and old man fell down and collapsed. A cane of cold water was thrown on him in order to take him back to his consciousness. The gate of churchyard was locked. Then all had gone to their own ways.

Critical Analysis

      In this chapter Noah Claypole is introduced. He feels proud that his parentage is known but the shop boys always ill-treat him. Thus, he treats Oliver as his inferior and here Dickens’ thought is very clear that tlie blemishes of human nature are mostly the consequence of his environment.

      The picture of poverty is best presented through the most tragic death of a poor lady. Her husband's lamentation touches our heart very deep.

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