Silas Marner

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Silas Marner Chapter 21 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next morning, as Silas Marner and Eppie are eating breakfast, Marner tells Eppie that there’s something he’s been meaning to do for a while, which is achievable now that his money had reappeared. He wants to visit his old home in Lantern Yard and to see if anything ever came to light concerning his innocence and to ask about the ritual of drawing lots. Dolly Winthrop approves of the plan, telling Marner that she hopes he’ll be at ease once he knows the truth.
The reappearance of the money in Marner’s life, rather than reviving his interest in gold, allows him to continue his interest in his own past, by visiting Lantern Yard again and discovering what he can. Marner has changed. Eppie has changed him so that gold can never again have a claim on his heart.
Themes
Faith Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
The Individual and Society Theme Icon
Silas Marner and Eppie arrive in Lantern Yard only to find a great manufacturing town, altered to a bewildering degree within the last thirty years. They are ill at ease on the noisy, crowded streets filled with strangers. Eventually the pair finds their way to Prison Street, which Marner recognizes. The shops are all altered, but Marner knows it’s the third street after the jail. Eppie is surprised by the closely proximity of the houses and remarks how pretty the Stone Pits will look when they return home.
The alteration of Lantern Yard is a key moment in the novel. Change, which the villagers of Raveloe so fear, has happened in Lantern Yard, and it marks the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, which will have profound impacts throughout England. Both Eppie and Marner now prefer Raveloe, its isolation, community, and its nature. Their preference for the stone pits suggests a preference for the unknown versus the bustling known of an industrial town.
Themes
The Individual and Society Theme Icon
Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
There are people leaving the Yard, as if they’d gone to chapel at noon on a weekday, Marner exclaims, and then stops in amazement. They are in front of a large factory where workers are leaving. “Lantern Yard is gone,” Marner cries. The large factory has replaced the chapel and everything Marner remembers. Eppie leads her father into a brush shop to ask about the old chapel, but no one they ask recalls the former chapel or anyone from that congregation.
Lantern Yard is gone and, with it, Marner’s past and his opportunity to discover whether the truth of his case was ever revealed. Yet if the community that made him an outcast no longer exists, should he still think of himself as having been cast out? Strangers and workers have replaced human connections in Lantern Yard.
Themes
The Individual and Society Theme Icon
Fear of the Unknown Theme Icon
The Limits of Human Knowledge Theme Icon
Upon their return to Raveloe, Marner reports to Dolly Winthrop that the old Lantern Yard has completely vanished. He realizes that he’ll never know whether the truth of the robbery was uncovered, or why they used the practice of drawing lots. Dolly replies that there are many things in this world that are dark to humans, but there are other things that she has never felt confused about. Silas Marner was falsely accused, but that does not stop there being something good about the event, even if it’s not for Marner or Dolly to see and understand what that may be. Marner says that since Eppie has appeared in his life he’s been able to trust again in the world, and because she’ll never leave him, he will trust until he dies.
Lantern Yard’s strong contrast to Raveloe shows how Marner himself has changed into a man who fits into the world of Raveloe. The remaining mystery of Lantern Yard’s disappearance and Marner’s unresolved false accusation force Dolly and Marner to come to terms with those things in life that they will never understand. Despite this, Marner knows he can trust again, his faith having been restored by Eppie’s love for and commitment to him.
Themes
Faith Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
The Individual and Society Theme Icon
The Limits of Human Knowledge Theme Icon
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