Has anyone else noticed what a helpful writer Dickens is? As I make my way through Oliver Twist, I find that he has left road signs in the text to help me with the plot. This classic writer is a hint-dropper for sure.
For example, let’s take a look at chapter XIV.
Hint 1: The chapter summary:
Comprising Further Particulars Of Oliver’s Stay At Mr. Brownlow’s. With The Remarkable Prediction Which One Mr. Grimwig Uttered Concerning Him. When He Went Out On An Errand.
Get ready for it. Mr. Grimwig will be making a remarkable prediction concerning Oliver’s errand.
Hint 2: Oliver is enjoying, actually enjoying!, his stay at the Brownlow residence. In fact it “seemed like Heaven itself.” Sadly, nothing in Oliver’s life is ever wonderful. Consider this a warning that things are about to change.
Hint 3: Brownlow has books that need returning. Grimwig wants to prove that Brownlow’s trust of Oliver is unfounded and suggests, “Send Oliver with them, ” said Mr. Grimwig with an ironical smile; “he will be sure to deliver them safely, you know,” Warning! Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!
Hint 4: If you hadn’t suspected Oliver was on the fast track to trouble town, maybe the housekeeper’s words made you pause. “Bless his sweet face!” said the old lady, looking after him. “I can’t bear, somehow, to let him go out of my sight.” Don’t go, Ollie! Have a relapse and stay a while longer!
Hint 5: This word-painting that Dickens creates with the last paragraph in the chapter tells us that Oliver will not be returning from the bookshop.
It grew so dark, that the figures on the dial-plate were scarcely discernible; but there the two old gentlemen continued to sit, in silence with the watch between them.
Wahhhh! Poor Oliver! When the chapter closes, we are absolutely certain that Oliver will not be returning from his errand. But wasn’t it thoughtful of Mr. Dickens to guide us through this twist in the plot that would take Oliver right back to Fagin?