A Study in Scarlet

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John Ferrier Character Analysis

Devout and moral, John Ferrier adopts the young girl Lucy as his daughter after most of their pioneer town dies of dehydration. Ferrier proves himself to be a loving father and hardworking man, and after assimilating into the Mormon community, amasses a large amount of wealth. Unlike most Mormon men, however, he does not marry, as he views the Mormon practice of polygamy as shameful. He also vows to never let his daughter marry a Mormon. Eventually he is killed by Joseph Stangerson for trying to protect Lucy from a forced Mormon marriage.

John Ferrier Quotes in A Study in Scarlet

The A Study in Scarlet quotes below are all either spoken by John Ferrier or refer to John Ferrier. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Observation and Deduction Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of A Study in Scarlet published in 2001.
Part 2, Chapter 3 Quotes

He had always determined, deep down in his resolute heart, that nothing would ever induce him to allow his daughter to wed a Mormon. Such a marriage he regarded as no marriage at all, but as a shame and a disgrace. Whatever he might think of the Mormon doctrines, upon that one point he was inflexible.

Related Characters: John Ferrier, Lucy Ferrier
Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:

A few weeks after Lucy’s engagement to Jefferson Hope, Ferrier is reflecting on his daughters upcoming marriage and his opinions on Mormon polygamy. A source of gossip in the Mormon community, the mystery of why Ferrier never married is now revealed: he views polygamy as shameful and false. That Ferrier’s opinions on Mormon marriage differ so starkly from Mormon doctrine sets him apart from the community. That Ferrier is represented as not only a devout Christian and but also the archetypal American serves to set up a dichotomy between traditional Christianity and Mormonism, and between American values and Mormon values. Doyle therefore presents Mormon polygamy as both anti-Christian and anti-American.

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Part 2, Chapter 4 Quotes

“We have come,” continued Stangerson, “at the advice of our fathers to solicit the hand of your daughter for whichever of us may seem good to you and to her. As I have but four wives and Brother Drebber here has seven, it appears to me that my claim is the stronger one.”

“Nay, nay, Brother Stangerson,” cried the other; “the question is not how many wives we have, but how many we can keep. My father has now given over his mills to me, and I am the richer man.”

“But my prospects are better,” said the other, warmly. “When the Lord removes my father, I shall have his tanning yard and his leather factory. Then I am your elder, and am higher in the Church.”

“It will be for the maiden to decide,” rejoined young Drebber, smirking at his own reflection in the glass. “We will leave it all to her decision.”

Related Characters: Enoch Drebber (speaker), Joseph Stangerson (speaker), John Ferrier, Lucy Ferrier, Enoch Drebber, Elder Stangerson
Page Number: 93-94
Explanation and Analysis:

After Brigham Young threatened Ferrier and Lucy with an ultimatum, Ferrier sends out a message to Jefferson Hope in the city, and returns to find Drebber and Stangerson already in his house. The two young men here presumptuously argue over who should marry Lucy, based on their wealth and existing number of wives. Drebber and Stangerson casually objectify their wives, referring to them as if they were collectibles or pets. As their argument reveals, a marriage to either one of them would not be founded on love, as is Lucy’s relationship with Jefferson Hope, but rather on the men’s ability to manage the expense of “keeping” an extra wife.

Adding insult to injury, Drebber falsely claims that Lucy’s marriage is entirely her decision, despite the fact that Brigham Young has already threatened Lucy’s life in order to force her to marry one of the men. The Mormons’ insistence that Lucy marry a Mormon man is motivated not only by their rejection of Hope, a Gentile (non-Mormon) but also an implicit gender ideology that women must be married and thus dependent on men. They don’t, by contrast, insist that men must marry Mormon women, as they don’t force Ferrier to marry and as they bring in supplies of “fresh” and presumably non-Mormon women to be used by the Mormon Elders.

Part 2, Chapter 6 Quotes

“It don’t much matter to you why I hated these men,” he said; “it’s enough that they were guilty of the death of two human beings — a father and a daughter — and that they had, therefore, forfeited their own lives. After the lapse of time that has passed since their crime, it was impossible for me to secure a conviction against them in any court. I knew of their guilt though, and I determined that I should be judge, jury, and executioner all rolled into one. You’d have done the same, if you have any manhood in you, if you had been in my place.”

Related Characters: Jefferson Hope (speaker), Sherlock Holmes, John H. Watson, John Ferrier, Lucy Ferrier, Enoch Drebber, Joseph Stangerson, Lestrade, Tobias Gregson
Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:

After Holmes brings Hope to the Scotland Yard, Hope decides to make a full statement, as his aortic aneurysm could prevent him from telling his story at any time. Hope views his murder of Drebber and Stangerson as just, but his conception of justice is not the traditional European conception of justice as blind and impartial, but rather a more personal, vengeful “eye for an eye” form of justice that might be found in the American Wild West stories that Doyle favored as a child. To Hope, Drebber and Stangerson “forfeit” their lives because they are responsible for the deaths of Lucy and John Ferrier. Courtroom justice is inexistent or inaccessible in Hope’s Wild West, and he takes it upon himself as “judge, jury, and executioner” to carry out vigilante justice, despite the fact that the Mormons’ vigilantism was in large part responsible for the very deaths he was avenging. Hope further justifies his actions as a sign of his “manhood,” a patriarchal value with which he appeals to his captors (all men) but which he ironically does not realize helped to facilitate Lucy’s forced marriage to Drebber.

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John Ferrier Character Timeline in A Study in Scarlet

The timeline below shows where the character John Ferrier appears in A Study in Scarlet. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2, Chapter 1: On the Great Alkali Plain
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No longer narrated by John Watson, Part 2 shifts to the American desert stretching from the Sierra Nevada to Nebraska,... (full context)
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The man introduces himself as John Ferrier and decides to adopt the child, Lucy, as his daughter. The travellers tell him... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 2: The Flower of Utah
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John Ferrier and Lucy accompanied the Mormons all the way to Utah. Lucy had stayed in... (full context)
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Lucy thrived on John Ferrier’s farm and grew into a tall, and strong young woman whose beauty began to... (full context)
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The stranger, a tall, young hunter, recognizes her as John Ferrier’s daughter and introduces himself as Jefferson Hope, the son of one of Ferrier’s friends... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 3: John Ferrier Talks With the Prophet
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It has been three weeks since Hope left, and Ferrier reflects on his daughter’s upcoming marriage. While Ferrier is sad to lose Lucy, he is... (full context)
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One morning Ferrier is about to go out to work when he sees a now middle-aged Brigham Young... (full context)
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Ferrier ponders how to break the news to Lucy, but she has already overheard Young’s orders.... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 4: A Flight for Life
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The next morning, Ferrier goes into the city to send his message. When he returns home, he is surprised... (full context)
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...her father down, assuring him that Hope will return soon. In desperate need of advice, Ferrier reflects on their situation, knowing that wealthy men like him have gone missing for much... (full context)
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The numbers go down to 4 and 3, causing Ferrier to lose all hope in Hope’s arrival. Nevertheless Ferrier would still rather die than allow... (full context)
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While Ferrier prepares his daughter for their journey, Hope packs up the food and water. Hope explains... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 5: The Avenging Angels
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...which turned back to the city. He concludes that men must have taken Lucy and Ferrier with them. Yet not far from the camp is a freshly dug pile of dirt... (full context)
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...father or “the effects of the hateful marriage” to Drebber, who only married her for Ferrier’s property. While Drebber’s wives mourn Lucy, a wild-looking Jefferson Hope barges in, kisses Lucy’s forehead,... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 6: A Continuation of the Reminiscences of John Watson, M.D.
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Returning to his story, Hope claims that he saw John and Lucy Ferrier smiling at him as he was about to enact his revenge. As... (full context)