I first become aware of myself down in Essex, a thieving turnips for my living. Summun had run away from me—a man—a tinker—and he'd took the fire with him, and left me wery cold.

Category: Writing & Reading | Type: Discussion | Title: Great Expectations (in Context) | Author: Charles Dickens | Ch: Chapter XLII

These two sentences are among the most poignant in the novel. Magwitch's sad history gathers added force because it is the third in the sequence of arrivals at self-awareness, following Pip's and Joe's.

Tinkers were common figures on the roads in those days. They fixed metal pans, pots, and utensils (they were itinerant, lesser blacksmiths), and hence the mention of the fire that was employed to heat the metals.

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