The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Switching away from his reports to Holmes, Watson now uses his diary to reconstruct the events of the case. He begins the following day. Though Mr. Barrymore is grateful that Sir Henry wants to continue to employ him, he’s also upset that Sir Henry and Watson went after his brother-in-law. Selden, Mr. Barrymore says, has it quite hard enough out on the moors without additional hardships.
Mr. Barrymore has a familial obligation to his brother-in-law that clearly includes keeping him from starving on the moors. After the previous night’s escapades, though, Barrymore shows some gall here in reprimanding his employer.
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Barrymore adds that the convict has plans to escape the country for South America. Once out of the country, he will never return and never again be a danger to the people of England. When Sir Henry asks Watson what he thinks about this, Watson replies that Selden leaving the country would relieve the taxpayers of the burden of paying for his incarceration. Grudgingly, Watson and Sir Henry agree not to tell the police about Selden, giving him his chance to escape.
This plan works out for everyone involved except for South America, who will now have a hardened, escaped convict to deal with. That no one seems to care about this—at least not in the same way they care about English taxpayers—is probably to be expected from the colonial superpower that England still was at the turn of the century.
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In return for this promise, Mr. Barrymore gives up a piece of information he’s previously withheld. He knows that Sir Charles was meeting a woman on the night of his death. He learned this from a letter that Sir Charles received requesting the meeting. The letter was written in a feminine hand and signed “L.L.” Sir Charles had attempted to burn the letter, but parts of it remained. Barrymore never revealed this information previously for fear that it would damage Sir Charles’ reputation.
Lyons had a tarnished reputation, and Sir Charles meeting with her at all, let alone discreetly in the secluded moor, would have caused nearly the same scandal as if Sir Charles were found consorting with a prostitute. This is also why Sir Charles kept his charity to Lyons a secret.
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Watson makes some inquiries into who “L.L.” might be. Mortimer suggests that it might be Laura Lyons, a typist in nearby Coombe Tracey. Lyons was an acquaintance of Sir Charles, to whom he sometimes gave charity in the form of money. She was a headstrong young woman who married without her father’s consent, possibly because she had engaged in sexual activity (or even became pregnant) out of wedlock. When her husband deserted her, Mortimer asserts, she was left to scrounge a living in whatever way she could. Watson decides to go to Coombe Tracey the next day to meet her.
Literature of the era often saw only one way out for so-called fallen women: death. That Lyons is able to live—if a bit uncomfortably—as a woman with a career, is something of a revelation. Sir Charles’ donations show, too, that not all members of society agreed that fallen women should be treated so poorly by society: especially when their male counterparts suffered no consequences.
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