Parenthood and Friendship in Great Expectations Part 3
The unstable home environments of both Pip and Herbert helped to make their friendship stronger, and they both compensated for it by becoming each other’s family. Additionally, during times of crisis or illness they both alternately took on the role of “mother” or parent to each other. For example, during their financial crisis, when they both realized that they were severely in debt, Pip took charge of the situation by having them both sit down and make a list of how much money they each owed and to whom (295). However, this method was not effective at diminishing their debt. Pip also arranged for Herbert to have a career as a partner in a merchant company (317). Fathers would usually perform this task for their adult children. After Pip was badly burned while attempting to aid Miss Havisham, Herbert took on the role of mother to him by nursing his wounds. Pip stated that Herbert was “the kindest of nurses” and that he did the job “with a patient tenderness that I was deeply grateful for” (416). This demonstrates the type of treatment that a loving mother would give her injured child.
There is another important relationship in the novel that should be examined. It is the relationship between Pip and Joe. Joe’s age is not given, but he married Pip’s sister when Pip was a small boy, so it can be assumed that Joe was also quite a few years older than Pip. However, Joe is child-like in many ways, and, consequently, Mrs. Joe often treats him like a second son. He and Pip were close friends when Pip was a child, and they often looked after each other. Later in novel, after Pip had grown to adulthood and acquired his great expectations, he began to shun Joe for being a poor blacksmith. However, when Pip became gravely ill, Joe traveled to London to “mother” him (471). The fact that Joe chose to come and nurse him, after the several years that he had been mistreated by Pip, illustrates just how deep their initial friendship had been and how much they had meant to each other.