Silas Marner: Chapters 11-15

I was going to apologize for YET ANOTHER LATE POST but instead, I’ve decided that we should agree to pretend that I have been fighting crime at night, and/or taking care of a small child, and/or racing horses for charity. Then you’ll say, “Wow, all that AND she is only a week late on #Ravelong??? What a gal!”

I’m glad we agree on this.

It’s not even that I’m behind on reading or that I’m not enjoying it – I read this week’s chapters in two sittings and they were my favorites so far! It was just, like I said, my other careers as vigilante child-care provider horse-racer, distracting me.

One forgotten note from Chapter 10: if you, like me, were confused about the “I.H.S.” on the Bible that Dolly and Silas discuss, I looked it up for you. I’m incredibly ignorant sometimes so I can hardly laugh at Silas and Dolly for being clueless also. Plus, Greek. Latin. No one has time for that.

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Onward to chapter 11! I encourage you to go back and read the first long paragraph of this chapter – it is too delightful and precious to read only once! Nancy is a fine addition to this neighborhood of nonigans, and I love her sister Priscilla even more! Overall, this is one of my favorite chapters so far, between all of the new characters (especially ladies), the really awkward dinner (awkward meals are one of my favorite fictional tropes), and the bit where Godfrey steps on her dress and Nancy sends up a flare to her sister so that they can take care of the sartorial crisis.

Priscilla wins best quote for this chapter:

“I’ve no opinion o’ the men, Miss Gunn– I don’t know what you have. And as for fretting and stewing about what they’ll think of you from morning till night, and making your life uneasy about what they’re doing when they’re out o’ your sight–as I tell Nancy, it’s a folly no woman need be guilty of, if she’s got a good father and a good home: let her leave it to them as have got no fortin, and can’t help themselves. As I say, Mr. Have-your-own-way is the best husband, and the only one I’d ever promise to obey.”

Somehow she managed to pack a bunch of wisdom into it while also coming from a very privileged standpoint, so while I love it, I am also side-eying it.

Anyway, Nancy and Priscilla are both great and Nancy deserves WAY BETTER than Godfrey Cass.

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On to chapter 12!

Ok so I know that Godfrey’s wife is a drug addict, and when dealing with addicts you have to draw boundaries for yourself somewhere, but I feel REALLY bad for this lady.  We don’t see Godfrey make an effort to do anything for her, he doesn’t acknowledge her, he doesn’t visit his kid very much, and, I don’t know, I am just REALLY UPSET that she dies in the snow. Maybe she really is a malicious vindictive terrible person (we see some hints of this in her desire to “out” Godfrey to everyone, but seriously, who WOULDN’T want to force their husband to acknowledge their secret wife?!), but we don’t really see that on the page, whereas we DO constantly see Godfrey being a dithering, dishonest coward, so I just feel a lot of sadness for her.

“When Godfrey Cass was taking draughts of forgetfulness from the sweet presence of NAncy, willingly losing all sense of that hidden bond which at other moments galled and fretted him so as to mingle irritation with the very sunshine, Godfrey’s wife was walking with slow uncertain steps through the snow-covered Raveloe lanes, carrying her child in her arms.”

And then she dies alone in the snow because everything is terrible. How do you all feel about Molly the secret wife? Am I oversensitive? Where does Godfrey rate on the Bad Person scale? DISCUSS.

Fortunately, the kid wanders into Silas’ house, because Silas, against all odds, STILL hasn’t learned to lock his own door! I love the whole moment when the girl falls asleep by the fire, and then Silas suddenly sees her, and is like omg what:

“Gold! -his own gold – brought back to him as mysteriously as it had been taken away!”

And then he realizes it’s a child (A SIGNIFICANT CHILD) and thinks its his sister at first, which, wow, feels! I like the way Silas’ obsession with his gold is replaced with the love of a child, but at the same time the way it is replaced in the exact same way that the gold disappeared was almost too heavy-handed for me. What do you all think? DISCUSS.

Meanwhile, back at the Red House in chapter 13, everyone is engaging in well-mannered frivolity. I don’t know what Eliot is trying to imply by calling the Cass’ house “Red,” but the Cass males sure seem to leave a lot of ruined lives in their wakes!

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This should be Nancy any time a Cass boy talks to her.

Silas manages to break up the party in the same way that he did at the Rainbow: appearing in the doorway like a specter: “It was an apparition from that hidden life which lies, like a dark by-street, behind the goodly ornamented facade that meets the sunlight and the gaze of respectable admirers;” at least, that’s how Godfrey sees it. He is not happy to see his kid there, and confused to see her with Silas, who may or may not be just a crazy old man. I love that Silas is already defensive of the girl, more so even than her “real” father – when the well-intentioned ladies try to take her from him, Silas protests: “No- no- I can’t part with it; I can’t let it go. It’s come to me- I’ve a right to keep it.” I mean, the girl is a person, not a possession, but Silas’ determination to take care of her is a stark contrast to Godfrey, the biological father who is doing his best to not let anyone know that he has the most claim to her. UGH GODFREY.

Godfrey does a great job of talking himself out of all responsibility. I mean, on the one hand I relate to the skillful way he manipulates his own psyche, sense of duty, and responsibility (I have experienced this), BUT UGH he is way too successful! He convinces himself that not only will he be better off, but so will Nancy, who probably loves him, and his kid, who clearly will be better taken care of by others. So really, he is doing everyone a favor! UGH GODFREY.

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Speaking of manipulation, Dolly has some very nice moments of that in chapter 14. I really appreciate how Dolly is introduced initially as a kind, but extremely ignorant woman, and in this chapter she shines as the person with the most knowledge on the topic Silas cares most about: childcare! This chapter as a whole was extremely adorable, but I especially loved watching her “handle” Silas so that she can give him good advice and encouragement.

In spite of Dolly’s best efforts, Silas still has no chill. “But she’ll be my little un,” said Marner, rather hastily. “She’ll be nobody else’s.” On the one hand, that’s super cute; on the other, maybe calm down, Silas, she’s a girl not a bag of gold! I’m nervous to see if he develops a healthy love for his daughter or if he gets kinda obsessed and controlling.

But yeah, super cute chapter. I love Eppie’s name – both the shortened and full versions! “Hephzibah” is too cool, and it apparently means “my delight is in her” which is very appropriate.

In chapter 15, Godfrey is still an idiot, to no one’s surprise, but he feels great about it: “He felt a reformed man, delivered from temptation; and the vision of his future life seemed to him as a promised land for which had no cause to fight.”

Yeah, okay. Although I seem to recall that the promised land required years of wandering in the desert and then years of war, but, sure, Godfrey. Sure.

What about you all? Anything I didn’t mention that you loved/hated/had thoughts on in these chapters?

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