Study Guide

Silas Marner Chapter 14

By George Eliot

Chapter 14

  • After that night, no one thinks much of Molly again. But our narrator warns us cheerfully, trivial events can change the course of destiny.
  • The village women can't stop talking about Silas's decision to keep the child. They pity the foolish man who can't possibly know what it's like to tend to a two-year-old child.
  • Dolly Winthrop actually tries to help out. She brings over her children's old clothes and helps bathe the little girl. Silas won't let her help too much, because he wants the child to love him.
  • Silas has a plan for what to do when the child grows older and more active: he'll tie her to the loom so she can't wander and get into trouble. (Seriously, don't try this at home.) Dolly thinks that's a fine idea, only she insists that Silas take her to church and have her be christened.
  • Silas doesn't actually understand what she means. In his chapel, they only did baptism (hint: it's the same thing). But he agrees, and decides to name her after his mother and sister: Hephzibah.
  • Dolly's a little hesitant. She's not sure it's a Christian name, and anyway it's hard to say. Silas assures her it comes from a Bible, and they can call her Eppie.
  • Everything's set. Eppie is christened, Dolly agrees to do her laundry, and Silas goes to church for the very first time.
  • Time for a montage!
  • As Eppie grows up, Silas's life improves dramatically. He and Eppie pick flowers, listen to birds, visit the neighbors, and spend all their time together.
  • Sometimes, Eppie gets into trouble. One day, she grabs Silas's scissors, cuts the ribbon that binds her to Silas's loom, and runs out the door before he notices. When he finally finds her playing in mud, he is so overjoyed to find her that he doesn't even think to punish her until she's home and cleaned up.
  • Taking Dolly's advice, he tells Eppie that, because she's been naughty, she has to go into the basement. Eppie is stoked rather than terrified, and the punishment totally fails. After he brings her out and cleans her up, he turns around to find that she's gleefully crawled back in all by herself: "Eppie in de toal-hole!" (1.14.44).
  • Since that punishment failed spectacularly, Silas resolves never to punish her again.
  • So Eppie grows up, with all the neighbors as her friends. Servant girls take her to look at the chickens; little boys and girls kiss her pretty lips. Because everyone loves Eppie, they start to love Silas.
  • And since he loves her, he starts to love—well, at least like—everybody.