A Study in Scarlet

A Study in Scarlet Part 2, Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
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 glad that Hope makes her so happy, especially as Hope isn’t a Mormon. Ferrier had vowed to himself never to let Lucy marry a Mormon, as he considers the Mormon practice of polygamous marriage to be disgraceful. However, he never spoke of his opinions, because expressing anything that contradicted Mormon doctrine was dangerous. The narrator notes that “even the most saintly dared only whisper their religious opinions with bated breath” and states that “the victims of persecution had now turned persecutors on their own account.” The horrific organization that carries out this persecution is, according to the narrator, worse than the Spanish Inquisition, the German Vehmgericht (secret vigilante courts), and Italian secret societies.
The narrator now provides a more explicit explanation for why Ferrier never married. However, his disapproval of polygamy is never expressed in public, for in Doyle’s controversial depiction of the Mormon community, there is no freedom of speech or thought. Doyle describes the hypocrisy of the Mormons, who after escaping persecution in Illinois are now persecuting their own community members. The narrator hyperbolically claims that these American persecutors are even worse than the mysterious and bloodthirsty tribunals found in Europe. Whether Doyle is merely sensationalizing history for the sake of effect or tacitly defending European violence is uncertain.
Themes
Injustice and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Revenge and Murder Theme Icon
Related Quotes
What made this organization so terrifying was its invisible power. People who spoke out against the church would suddenly disappear. As polygamous marriage was considered Mormon doctrine, there were very few adult women available to be married. Rumors floated about immigrants being murdered in nearby camps and women being abducted for “the harems of the Elders.” The perpetrators supposedly belonged to the Danite Band, or the Avenging Angels, but no one knew much about the organization or who belonged to it, causing the community to live in fear of their friends and neighbors.
The Mormons’ restriction of polygamy to polygyny (in which men would marry multiple wives) is inherently sexist, as women are not allowed to marry multiple men. Their polygyny has a negative impact not only in their own community but in other communities too, as the “Angels” abduct women who are forced into marriage with and likely raped by the Mormon oligarchs. Doyle’s controversial account of the Mormons’ abduction of women foreshadows Drebber’s abduction of Lucy and her forced marriage to him.
Themes
Injustice and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Revenge and Murder Theme Icon
Related Quotes
One morning Ferrier is about to go out to work when he sees a now middle-aged Brigham Young approaching his house. Though Ferrier greets him politely, the Mormon leader is cold. Young tells Ferrier that he has failed to follow the Mormon religion because he has not taken any wives. However, the reason for Young’s visit is actually Lucy, and the growing rumors of her engagement to a Gentile (usually a non-Jewish person but in this context a non-Mormon) that have been spreading. Young cites one of Joseph Smith’s rules — every woman “of the true faith” must marry a Mormon, as to marry a non-Mormon would be sinful. Young orders Ferrier to force his daughter to marry the son of either Elder Stangerson or Elder Drebber within a month. Before leaving, Young threatens Ferrier, saying that if he disobeys the “Holy Four,” he and Lucy will be left to die in the Sierra Blanca.
Young presents polygyny as an essential part of Mormon faith. When criticizing Ferrier for not marrying and demanding Lucy’s marriage to a Mormon, Young inadvertently reveals another facet of sexism inherent in Mormon marriage doctrine. Though Young admonishes Ferrier for not marrying, he ultimately does not press the point. But when it comes to the marriage prospects of Lucy, a single woman, Young threatens her life and her father’s life if she does not marry — thereby setting forth a gender ideology that necessitates the attachment and dependence of a woman upon a man, but not the attachment of a man to a woman.
Themes
Injustice and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Ferrier ponders how to break the news to Lucy, but she has already overheard Young’s orders. Ferrier decides to send a message to Hope that he should return as soon as possible, and tells Lucy that they’ll have to raise money and leave Utah in order to avoid the danger of defying Young. Ferrier confesses that he has thought of leaving before, as Young’s tyranny nettles him and goes against his identity as a “freeborn American.” Trying to reassure his daughter, Ferrier tells her not to worry, but she notices that he locks the doors at night and has taken out his shotgun.
Previously depicted as the archetypal self-made American man, Ferrier is now presented as a “freeborn American” whose values of freedom and independence are at odds with the culture of fear, silence, and control endorsed by Brigham Young and the Mormons (at least as Doyle portrays them, of course).
Themes
Injustice and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Revenge and Murder Theme Icon
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