The Return of Sherlock Holmes
Foreignness and 'the Other' Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"My mother and I were left without relations in the world except for one uncle, Ralph Smith who went to Africa twenty-five years ago, and we have never had a word from him since." (Solitary Cyclist.13)
This idea of someone heading off to the Empire and disappearing is actually a pretty common trope in English literature. In terms of storytelling, the Empire provided all sorts handy tropes: exotic locales, a convenient place to ship off unwanted characters, a site of mystery, etc. In terms of reality, lots of families had relatives living far off in the Empire in this era, so the long-absent Ralph Smith isn't that unusual.
"Lie number one," said the old man; "I never saw either of these until two months ago, and I have never been in Africa in my life, so you can put that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr. Busybody Holmes!"
"Well, well, two of you came over. His reverence is our own homemade article." (Solitary Cyclist.135-137)
This is one of the funnier exchanges in these story, thanks to the crotchety Mr. Williamson. Holmes also raises an interesting idea here: that criminals "coming over" versus "homemade" criminals. A person's foreign status definitely plays a role in criminal debates here.
It represented an alert, sharp-featured simian man, with thick eyebrows and a very peculiar projection of the lower part of the face, like the muzzle of a baboon. (Six Napoleons.47)
Watson's diction, or word choice here alludes to eugenic ideas, or race theory that often associated foreigners with monkeys and apes in derogatory ways.