The Hound of the Baskervilles

by

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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The Walking Stick Symbol Analysis

The Walking Stick Symbol Icon

When Dr. Mortimer accidentally leaves his walking stick in front of Sherlock Holmes’ apartment on Baker Street, Holmes and Watson treat the instrument as a kind of diary from which to read the history of Mortimer’s life. The walking stick represents the way that people leave very deep, revealing traces of themselves wherever they go, which can make people vulnerable. Through careful analysis of the walking stick, Holmes is able to discover much about Mortimer: that he is a doctor, for instance—though an unambitious one—and that he is well-liked. Holmes also deduces that Mortimer owns a dog and walks great distances. Holmes is participating in an early form of what is today called forensics, the use of scientific methods and thinking in discovering something hidden (often the source of a crime).

The Walking Stick Quotes in The Hound of the Baskervilles

The The Hound of the Baskervilles quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Walking Stick. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Power of Reason Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Borzoi edition of The Hound of the Baskervilles published in 2014.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he stayed up all night, was seated at the breakfast-table. I stood upon the hearthrug and picked up the stick which our visitor had left behind him the night before.

Related Characters: Dr. John Watson (speaker), Sherlock Holmes, Dr. James Mortimer
Related Symbols: The Walking Stick
Page Number: 249
Explanation and Analysis:

Really, Watson, you excel yourself […] It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating. I confess, my dear fellow, that I am very much in your debt.

Related Characters: Sherlock Holmes (speaker), Dr. John Watson, Dr. James Mortimer
Related Symbols: The Walking Stick
Page Number: 250
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Walking Stick Symbol Timeline in The Hound of the Baskervilles

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Walking Stick appears in The Hound of the Baskervilles. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The Power of Reason Theme Icon
The Superiority of Urban Life Theme Icon
...in his Baker Street apartment with Dr. John Watson. They are looking at a walking stick that has been left behind by an unknown visitor the night before. Holmes hopes that... (full context)
The Power of Reason Theme Icon
The Superiority of Urban Life Theme Icon
The stick has a small dedicatory plaque on it that reads, “To James Mortimer, M.R.C.S., from his... (full context)
The Power of Reason Theme Icon
The Superiority of Urban Life Theme Icon
Watson also notes that Mortimer must be esteemed by his colleagues, because the walking stick is well-made and expensive-looking, and the plaque is made of silver. He believes that “C.C.H.”... (full context)
The Power of Reason Theme Icon
The Superiority of Urban Life Theme Icon
...be Charing Cross Hospital—an urban institution. Holmes thinks that Mortimer’s coworkers gave him the walking stick when he decided to leave the hospital and start up his own practice in the... (full context)
The Power of Reason Theme Icon
The Superiority of Urban Life Theme Icon
...been a house-surgeon or physician—a “senior student.” If that’s true, then the date on the stick, only five years prior, makes Watson’s assertion that the doctor was an old man impossible. (full context)
The Power of Reason Theme Icon
The Superiority of Urban Life Theme Icon
...Holmes gleans this last deduction from the chew marks found here and there on the stick. He feels that Mortimer is unambitious because he would not have left the hospital otherwise. (full context)
The Power of Reason Theme Icon
Mortimer is relieved to find his walking stick, saying that he wouldn’t lose it for the world. Holmes questions him to see if... (full context)
Chapter 4 
The Power of Reason Theme Icon
Natural vs. Supernatural Theme Icon
Criminal Nature vs. Criminal Nurture Theme Icon
The Superiority of Urban Life Theme Icon
Just as he did with the walking stick, Holmes is able to pull some clues from the letter. First, he recognizes the series... (full context)