by George Eliot
Silas Marner Community Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph)
Neighbours, who had nothing but verbal consolation to give, showed a disposition not only to greet Silas, and discuss his misfortune at some length when they encountered him in the village, but also to take the trouble of calling at his cottage, and getting him to repeat all the details on the very spot[.] (1.10.5)
It's a lot easier to be nice to someone who's down on his luck. Because Silas never needed anything from his neighbors before, they never approached him. But now the community rallies around him. And, yeah, a little schadenfreude never hurts, either.
Left groping in darkness, with his prop utterly gone, Silas had inevitably a sense, though a dull and half-despairing one, that if any help came to him it must come from without; and there was a slight stirring of expectation at the sight of his fellow-men, a faint consciousness of dependence on their goodwill. (1.10.22)
Silas has to be robbed before he can open himself up to receiving the goodwill of his neighbors. More importantly, help has to come from "without." That's a very Calvinist idea: you can't save yourself through good deeds ("works"), because only God can save you through forcible intervention ("grace"). It's also a very communist/socialist idea. Hmm, sounds like someone's been reading Marx.
But now Silas met with open smiling faces and cheerful questioning, as a person whose satisfactions and difficulties could be understood. Everywhere he must sit a little and talk about the child, and words of interest were always ready for him: "Ah, Master Marner, you'll be lucky if she takes the measles soon and easy!"—or, "Why, there isn't many lone men 'ud ha' been wishing to take up with a little un like that: but I reckon the weaving makes you handier than men as do out-door work—you're partly as handy as a woman, for weaving comes next to spinning." (1.14.48)
Silas is just a little bit less masculine than his community, because his weaving is "women's work." Little differences like this mean that Silas can't ever be totally a part of Raveloe. Side note: if the Raveloe way of life is going extinct, are all the jobs of the Industrial Revolution somehow women's work?