The Hound of the Baskervilles

by

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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The Hound of the Baskervilles: Chapter 9  Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In his second report, Watson reports that Jack Stapleton has practically attacked Sir Henry over his advances towards Beryl. The man has so berated the young Baskerville that Sir Henry wonders if Jack is insane. Watson can’t figure out why Jack would oppose a relationship between Beryl and Sir Henry, who is a nice man and is fabulously rich. Stapleton, for his part, says that his sister means everything to him. He claims he’ll eventually come around to the idea of the two dating, but he needs them to wait a few months first.
Jack’s inexplicable outburst coupled with his desire for Sir Henry to “wait a few months” is a pretty serious hint for Doyle to drop. It’s obvious that Stapleton wants a few months because he knows Baskerville will be dead by then. Doyle, however, likely felt that he had presented Mr. Barrymore as a strong enough red herring, though, to throw off any suspicion.
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With regard to the strange signaling of Mr. Barrymore, it takes few nights for Watson and Sir Henry to stay awake long enough to catch him in the act, but eventually they manage it. Mr. Barrymore is flustered at first, but this quickly turns into a stubborn reticence.
Though the image of a butler sneaking around a dark, old manor at night is undoubtedly gothic, there’s nothing supernatural suggested here.
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When confronted, Mr. Barrymore refuses to provide any explanation for his behavior, saying it was a personal matter. It’s not until Sir Henry threatens Mr. Barrymore’s job that Mrs. Barrymore intervenes, revealing that Barrymore is signaling to Selden to let him know that food is available for him. Selden, she confesses, is her brother, and she feels responsible for him.
As with Beryl Stapleton, Mrs. Barrymore shows some real strength here. First, she shows substantial control over her husband. More importantly, however, she is in control of the couple’s future and actively decides what is best for them.
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Watson and Baskerville are surprised by this sudden revelation but understanding of the impossible situation that Mr. and Mrs. Barrymore have found themselves in. Still, they feel it necessary to try to capture the escaped convict and set out immediately to do so. Almost immediately, they hear the sound of the baying hound that Watson heard before with Jack Stapleton.
Watson’s reason is once again overruled by his emotions. He knows that Selden has been on the moors for weeks and will continue to be there. He also knows that the moors only pose a danger to Sir Henry at night. Yet, in an emotional moment, he charges onto the moors at night in pursuit of a dangerous killer with Sir Henry.
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Despite the ominous sound, the two press on. Selden, however, sees them coming and manages to escape. Watson is surprised by how quickly and agilely the convict is able to move. Just as they’ve given up hope of catching Selden, Watson sees the silhouette of another man watching them. He’s not sure who it is, and he’s not able to catch him, either.
Watson mentions his physical prowess and athletic ability multiple times—though always in the context of him being beaten at some athletic context, such as this foot race. It’s not clear if Doyle intends for this to be ironic.
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