A Study in Scarlet

A Study in Scarlet Part 2, Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The travelers walk all night and through the next day, making their way through a rocky ravine. Though they see no one else, Hope urges them to continue moving, as their pursuers may be tracking them. The next day their food begins to run out, but Hope, confident in his hunting skills, leaves to find game. After searching for a few hours without success, he catches sight of a bighorn, shooting it down and cutting off pieces of meat to bring back to the campsite. However, he finds his way back difficult, as it is nearly dark. With the thought of Lucy to keep him going, Hope finally recognizes his surroundings and, five hours after he left, nears the campsite.
Hope not only represents hope for the Ferriers but also embodies it, as it is his hope for a future with Lucy that fuels him and carries him back to the campsite. We can guess that this extended absence of his is unlikely to end well, however.
Themes
Revenge and Murder Theme Icon
Hope calls out to warn them of his approach, but he hears nothing in return. When he reaches the campsite, he sees no one. Where the fire had been is now a pile of ashes. Hope is confused but recovers quickly from his disorientation. He reignites the fire and examines the campsite. The ground has been trodden by horse hoofs, 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 — a new grave. Stuck into the dirt is a stick holding a piece of paper on which was written “John Ferrier, Formerly of Salt Lake City. Died August 4th.” Hope checks to see if there is another grave for Lucy, and when he doesn’t find one, concludes that she must have been taken back to the city, to be forced into marrying one of the Elders’ sons.
The Mormons’ intimidation of John and Lucy Ferrier finally escalates into physical violence (though only appearing “off-page”), highlighting the hypocrisy of their original mission to escape persecution and violence. Like Holmes investigating Drebber’s crime scene, Hope uses his observation and analysis skills to deduce information about the campsite and about Lucy.
Themes
Observation and Deduction Theme Icon
Injustice and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Revenge and Murder Theme Icon
Realizing that there is nothing he can do, Hope wishes that he were dead, but soon abandons his despair in favor of vengeance, as he has nothing else to live for. A tenacious man, Hope “possessed also a power of sustained vindictiveness, which he may have learned from the Indians amongst whom he had lived.” He would devote his “strong will and untiring energy” to revenge. Though he is tired, he cooks enough meat to last him for days and begins to walk back to the city. After six days of walking, he reaches the outskirts of the settlement and encounters Cowper, a Mormon acquaintance. Though Cowper is unwilling to be seen talking with Hope, he reluctantly tells Hope what happened to Lucy. Stangerson had shot her father, and she had been forced to marry Drebber. Cowper remarks that she seemed to be on the brink of death.
Before Lucy’s death, Hope had been fueled by the thought of a life with her. After Lucy’s death, this hope is destroyed and replaced by the desire for vengeance. Like hope, revenge is driven by a goal or desire, but whereas hope aims toward the positive, revenge aims toward the negative. Hope’s hope can therefore be said to be perverted into revenge. Hope’s single-minded desire for revenge, sustained by his tenacity, is not unlike Holmes’ obsession with murder cases. Like Holmes, Hope too becomes obsessed with death.
Themes
Revenge and Murder Theme Icon
Hope then leaves for the mountains and lives in the wilderness. Within a month, Lucy dies, perhaps because of her grief over her 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, and takes her wedding ring off her finger, exclaiming that she won’t be buried in it. Hope lives for months in the mountains, occasionally prowling the city and attempting to kill Drebber and Stangerson, who soon discover the identity of their would-be assassin and repeatedly fail to capture him. Eventually the attempts on their lives seem to stop, and the two Mormons believe that Hope has given up.
After her death, the narrator reveals that Lucy’s abduction and forced marriage were motivated primarily by Drebber’s mercenary interest in her father’s land. The practice of financially motivated abduction, rape, and forced marriage has its origins in medieval Europe and objectifies women not only by subjugating their will but also by treating them as property to be stolen. To Drebber, Lucy is little more than a means to steal her father’s property.
Themes
Injustice and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Gender and Misogyny Theme Icon
Revenge and Murder Theme Icon
Get the entire A Study in Scarlet LitChart as a printable PDF.
A study in scarlet.pdf.medium
To the contrary, the need for revenge possesses Hope, whose “mind was of a hard, unyielding nature.” Yet Hope is practical and realizes that he will never be able to accomplish his revenge if he continues to starve himself and expose himself to the elements. To regain his health and earn some money, he returns to the Nevada silver mines. After working for five years in the mines, he returns to Salt Lake City and learns that the church has experienced a schism between the Elders and the younger Mormons, many of whom left the church and Utah. Drebber and Stangerson were among these men, but there was no way to track them. Hope, however, still clings to his revenge, and travels from town to town searching for his prey like “a human bloodhound.”
Revenge sustains Hope for years. Like Watson’s description of Holmes as a foxhound sniffing out clues in a crime scene, Hope is described by the narrator as a human bloodhound, relentlessly tracking Drebber and Stangerson with whatever information he can find. That Hope and Holmes are similarly described points both to their shared cleverness and their preoccupation with death. However, while Holmes is obsessed with solving murder cases, regardless of the victims’ identities, Hope is obsessed with committing the murders of his enemies, Drebber and Stangerson.
Themes
Injustice and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Revenge and Murder Theme Icon
Years later, Hope finds the men at last in Cleveland, Ohio, but Drebber recognizes him and has Hope arrested by a justice of the peace, giving himself and Stangerson, who is now his secretary, time to escape to Europe. Despite this setback, Hope’s hatred continues to drive him. After working to raise enough money to travel to Europe, he arrives at St. Petersburg only to find that the men have left for Paris. Once Hope reaches Paris, the men leave for Copenhagen. Once Hope gets to Copenhagen, the men are already on their way to London.
Though Drebber and Stangerson previous thought Hope had given up on revenge, Hope proves them wrong. Not even the Atlantic Ocean can stop Hope, who chases the men all over Europe, thus concluding the flashback and returning to Watson’s narration.
Themes
Injustice and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Revenge and Murder Theme Icon