English KS2: Oliver Twist - Episode 2
Oliver reaches Barnet on the outskirts of London where he is approached by another boy calling himself the Artful Dodger.
The Dodger quickly establishes that Oliver needs a place to stay and recommends a 'respectable gentleman' that he knows in London. Oliver is alarmed by the sight of Saffron Hill - the neighbourhood that he is taken to - close to present-day Clerkenwell.
In a decaying old building he is introduced to Fagin and various other boys who live there. Over the next few days Oliver stays with Fagin and the other boys. On one occasion he awakes to find Fagin admiring some jewels and other valuables in his possession. And on another he watches a 'game' played in which the Dodger and another boy called Charley Bates try to remove items from Fagin's pockets without him becoming aware.
Oliver grows eager to go outside and does so with the Dodger and Charley. However, when Oliver sees them picking the pocket of an old gentleman while his back is turned he suddenly understands the significance of the earlier 'game'.
All three boys make a run for it but Oliver is felled by a bystander and is dragged off to appear before the magistrate, Mr Fang.
Ideas for use in the classroom
Understanding, interpreting and responding to texts:
Dodger is described as “one of the queerest looking boys that Oliver had ever seen”. What makes him look so odd? (He is unusually short, but wears a coat that is too big for him, and a hat which seems ready to fall off at any time).
For what reason does Dodger assume that Oliver has been walking for so long? (A “beak’s order”, i.e. an order from a magistrate).
Why do you think Dodger takes Oliver to Fagin? (He thinks that Oliver might be trained to become a pickpocket).
Why does the Dodger need to give a password to be let into Fagin’s house? (They are a criminal gang and do not want to be discovered).
Why does Fagin say that he has so many handkerchiefs? Why does he really have them? (To get them ready for washing – in reality they are stolen).
Why is Fagin angry, to begin with, when Oliver wakes up? (He thinks Oliver has seen the hiding place for his treasure).
Why do Fagin, Dodger and Charley play a game together? (They are practising the skills they need as pickpockets).
What does Fagin mean when, referring to Dodger and Charley, he advises Oliver to “make ‘em your models”? (To be like them, and as good as they are at picking pockets).
For what reason is Oliver set to work unpicking the letters from the handkerchiefs? (So that they can be re-sold to make money).
What does Charley mean when he calls the old gentleman a “prime plant” (An ideal person of whom to pick the pocket).
Write a diary entry for the old gentleman, describing how you are robbed, and your feelings when the apparent robber is caught.
Write a newspaper report describing the capture of a young pickpocket.
Act out how you imagine the scene when Dodger and Charley are on their way back to Fagin without Oliver. How do they think he will react, and why?