One of my favorite father-son stories in Western literature has to be story of Pip and Joe Gargery in Charles Dickens' novel, Great Expectations. Dickens wrote a lot but he said of all his novels, Great Expectations might be his favorite, it might be his most finely written novel. Certainly the relationship between Pip and Joe is one of the more moving pictures of what a father-son relationship can look like. It's especially interesting because Joe is not really Pip's father. What we learn in the beginning of the novel is that Pip is one who has been orphaned, his mother and his father have died, he has gone to live with his aunt, and his aunt is married to Joe. The auntie is cruel but Joe is everything one would want in a father. He is all warmth and connection, and interested in Pip's life, consistently looking out for Pip and teaching Pip about the things of life. Joe desires to pass on his training which is blacksmithing, and teach Pip the ways of being a blacksmith so that Pip can provide in his life as he grows older. He is a connected father, a connected man in Pip's life in the most remarkable ways. This relationship is not enough for Pip, and Pip decides that he would live out great expectations, that he would live a life and actually cut himself off from the small town blacksmithing dead-end that would be his life with Joe and his aunt, and he sets out into the world an unmoored, freed, independent man.
Misery upon misery follows in Pip's life, betrayal by friends, financial ruin. A heart that is taken by a particular woman who scorns him at every turn and manipulates his affections. It comes to a point finally where Pip is on the edge of complete life ruin. What Pip ...
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