At the second stage in this chapter, it is crucial to link our discussion to the writing style and narrative techniques of Dickens himself, i.e. how his two novels portray this fight for survival as a crossing between good and evil.
It is a widely-accepted fact that Dickens was a writer of the common people, the poor and the lower middle-class that were so spread, yet so ignored in the Victorian era.
But perhaps what is most striking about such a conception is the “tool” which he uses with the goal of giving them voice and life: that tool is mainly observation, though not of a rational kind.
We must not infer that reason or other sort of empirical knowledge are entirely absent from his range of narrative techniques, for that would be enormously erroneous.
Still, the focus on emotion, spiritual observation and spontaneity sometimes tends to take the upper hand, allowing him to shape these lower classes in much more vivid colors.
For example, it is such a spontaneous feeling (i.e. fear) which makes Pip distinguish very clearly between honesty and crime at the very beginning of Great Expectations, before and after his meeting with the convict Abel Magwitch.
Besides previously-provided knowledge by his sister as to what crime signifies, it is the instantaneous fear which makes Pip instinctively associate (by extension) such horrific details as the convict’s horrific nature with the tremendous path of crime; he sees how the latter, along with incarceration, reduces the individual to a sub-human status.
And therefore, we can see what an anticipating role such a momentarily feeling can have, later on in his adulthood.
Pip will never cease to cultivate himself and aspire to higher social ranking primarily to win Estella’s heart and forget about his peasant origins, of course, but equally to stay on the right path and avoid sinking into the inescapable hell as crime appeared to him during that night’s meeting with the convict.
We can remark the same spontaneous feeling, carrying the same meaningful role, with an even more powerful impact, in the shaping of Oliver Twist’s character.
His arrival at the criminal gang fills his soul with fear and disgust at their horrid lack of morality, decency and humanity, especially because the old Fagin trained children into thieves.
The unpleasant encounter with Fagin’s gang, plus the numerous other occasions of perceiving the misery of the London slums, definitely shape Oliver’s ardent desire to escape them and live in a decent and warm environment, a milieu proper to his peaceful nature.
To sum up, the choice which the two protagonists made over the boundary between right and wrong evidently accounts for their learning that kindness and sentimentality are the keys to true happiness in life.
On a larger scale, it is further a part of Dickens’ criticism “… against the deadening Utilitarian system” (Deirdre 16), not to mention a clear rejection of the materialistic perspective, i.e. the craving for wealth which may often lead to crime, as it is the case of Abel Magwitch or Bill Sikes, the main antagonist in Oliver Twist.