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Silas Marner

Silas Marner

by George Eliot

Silas Marner Chapter 16 Summary

  • Sixteen years pass, and Part 2 begins. Bells are ringing, and everyone is walking out of church. Let's check in with our old friends.
  • Godfrey is older (and a little fatter), but still handsome. The woman walking with him—hint, it's Nancy—also looks older, but her face is experienced and interesting, as though life has tested her and she's passed.
  • And here's Silas. Sixteen years have not been as kind to him. He's much older and weaker, but he's got the loveliest girl next to him—all blond and dimpled, with curly hair that she hates, because it's not smooth like the other girls' hair and flat irons haven't been invented yet.
  • There's a young man walking behind her who thinks Eppie's hair is just perfect. She pretends to ignore him and asks her father if he could dig her a little garden, like Dolly Winthrop's.
  • Aaron (the boy walking behind her, Dolly's son) butts in, and volunteers to dig the garden—since Silas is old enough now that the digging might be hard for him. Score! That was totally Eppie's plan all along.
  • Silas can't believe what a flirt he's got for a daughter.
  • Eppie pats a little donkey and then they walk in their little cottage, which is now also home to a little brown dog and a little tortoise-shell kitten, as well as clean and expensive furniture given to them by Godfrey Cass.
  • Ah, weirdly incestuous domestic bliss.
  • Eppie fixes lunch, and they eat quietly—or, Silas eats quietly while Eppie plays with the dog and cat.
  • When he's finished, she cleans up and makes Silas sit in the sun and smoke his pipe—good for "fits," the neighbors assure him. He doesn't much like it, but these days he does whatever the neighbors tell him to do. Peer pressure, alive and well in the 19th century.
  • As Silas has gradually become part of village life, he been telling Dolly about his past. It's difficult, since Silas isn't very good at explaining and Dolly, let's be honest, isn't very good at understanding.
  • She especially has trouble understanding why Silas let a game of chance decide his fate. She thinks it must be hard for Silas to feel that God betrayed him, but she's sure that something good must come of his trials.
  • A few days later, she's figured it out: God works in mysterious ways, and we have to do the right thing, trust in God, and trust in our neighbors. Silas, understandably, can't argue with this bit of folk wisdom.
  • Eppie also knows the whole story, and she loves Silas so much that she never bothers to wonder about her real father. She's managed to stay a little more refined than the other village girls, thanks to Silas's care—and, because this is the 19th century, probably also because her dad is from a higher class.
  • Back in the present: Eppie says that she'd like to plant the bush that her mother died under in the garden that Aaron has just promised to dig her. Silas agrees.
  • Eppie proposes a stone fence, but Silas thinks she wouldn't be able to carry the stones from the quarry. Never one to take no for an answer, Eppie rushes out to prove him wrong.
  • She quickly hurries back to report that the water level is low. Oh, Silas says—they're draining Mr. Osgood's field.
  • He tells her not to try to lift the stones; she needs someone to help her. Someone like Aaron, perhaps?
  • Now is the time for Eppie to reveal that Aaron's proposed to her. They would all live together—Aaron, Silas, and Eppie. She'd like that, but Silas thinks she's a little young.
  • They resolve to ask the oh-so-neutral party of Aaron's mother, Dolly.
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