RORY: Goodnight, Dodger.
RORY: Figure it out.
JESS: Oliver Twist.
Oliver Twist, or the Parish Boy’s Progress, is a 1838 novel by English author Charles Dickens. The titular protagonist is a poor orphan boy who is born in a workhouse and apprenticed to an undertaker. He escapes to London, where he meets the “Artful Dodger”, a boy who belongs to a gang of juvenile pickpockets. It’s an unromantic portrayal of criminals and their sordid lives, and exposes the cruel treatment of orphans in the 19th century.
Rory jokingly refers to Jess as the Artful Dodger, a boy thief who is known for his great skill and cunning as a pickpocket. It’s something of both an insult and a compliment. More interestingly, the Artful Dodger attempts to seduce the innocent Oliver into a life of crime, as if Rory instinctively sees Jess as a corrupting influence.
Rory is not only teasing Jess, she is setting him a little test. Does he only read the Beat poets, or is he also familiar with classic novels? You know, proper literature, as studied at school? Jess passes the test with flying colours, and Rory beams, as if she has found a kindred spirit.
Look out, Non-Reading Dean ….