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Places to Go: Silas Marner by George Eliot (chapter 14)

Written by Rachael Norris, 20th November 2020

People and Project Manager at The Reader, Shaun Lawrence, reads from chapter 14 of Silas Marner by George Eliot. The theme for our daily readings this month is 'Light in the Dark'. Check out the rest of our readings for November and download the calendar here.

Growing Together 

Silas Marner is a novel which I’ve read myself several times, but it’s also one which I’ve brought to my groups in prisons over the past few years and which has always proven to be a hit.  

I recall reading it with a group in a women’s prison – a group I was new to, having just taken it over from a colleague – and being delighted with how much the women there got from the story. One of the younger women remarked after the group ended one week that the book was “just like Hollyoaks! There’s all sorts happening in it; it’s just that people talk differently than us!”. I’ve always held that in mind when reading the story again; the characters are just like us, and the challenges they face are the same as those we face, though we may speak about them differently nowadays. That this group of women were able to recognise that fact and see how the story was still relevant despite the oddness of the language, while also being eager to dive back into the story each week, taught me a valuable lesson about the impact great literature has on us all, regardless of who we are or where our journey has taken us. 

In the extract I’ve chosen, there’s an adventure for Silas’s daughter Eppie in which she definitely goes places. But beyond that, there’s a journey which Silas himself undertakes without physically travelling very far; a journey of growth and self-discovery. Through his love of and caring for Eppie, Silas is able to rediscover something in himself which had been almost lost over the years, something which allowed him to connect with people in a way he had almost forgotten about. It’s often the little things which can start a change in us; some realisation which comes following an unexpected turn of events that steers us along a different pathway. For Silas, the arrival of a new treasure in the form of Eppie opens him up to love, social interactions, and hope once again, as they both grow together. 

For us, perhaps the experience of COVID and the impact it’s had on our lives might lead us in directions we haven’t yet thought about and so help us to start a new journey ourselves, going places where we perhaps wouldn’t have otherwise gone. We may not know about it until we’re a good way along the journey, like Silas in the extract. Whatever comes our way, I really hope that reading this excerpt will help to get you started on a journey of your own which will help you grow in some unexpected way. 

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