Study Guide

Silas Marner Chapter 17

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Chapter 17

  • Meanwhile, up at the Red House, Priscilla and Nancy are talking. Like Silas's cottage, the Red House looks different: Nancy has made everything clean and pretty. But all is not well. Priscilla urges Nancy to get some cows and chickens, which will take her mind off things.
  • You see, after all these years, Godfrey and Nancy have no children. After Priscilla leaves, Nancy is pretty bummed out. She's not just sad for herself—she's sad for Godfrey. Women can always wrap themselves up in caring for their husbands, but men need to have children to work for.
  • Godfrey had talked before about adopting, but Nancy thought that adoption would go against God's will and probably end up ruining any child they took in.
  • When Godfrey says that Eppie is turning out just fine, Nancy counters that Silas didn't go looking for her; she just showed up at the door.
  • It turns out that (big surprise) Eppie is the child Godfrey had in mind to adopt. He figures it would be good for Eppie, since they can provide money and education that Silas can't. (Silas's feelings, of course, aren't an issue.)
  • But Nancy refuses. Godfrey is dissatisfied—he doesn't understand, our narrator says, that life is always just a little dissatisfying. In other words, he's still immature.
  • It's been four years since Godfrey last brought up the question of adoption, and Nancy is wondering whether she did the right thing when her servant, Jane, comes in with the tea-things and announces that the villagers are all excited about something outside.

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