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When Silas Marner returns to Lantern Yard with Eppie, he is shocked to discover that the town as he remembers it is gone. Silas is "bewildered by the changes thirty years had brought over his native place," and is "ill at ease...amidst the noise, the movement, and the multitude of strange indifferent faces." His old home, and the chapel nearby, is gone, having been replaced by a huge, bustling, impersonal factory. The brush-maker who occupies Shoe Lane now arrived in the area ten years previously, but can tell Silas nothing of "the old Lantern Yard friends, or of Mr. Paston the minister." Silas laments,
"The old place is all swep' away...the little graveyard and everything. The old home's gone...I shall never know whether they got at the truth o' the robbery, nor whether Mr. Paston could ha' given me any light about the drawing o' the lots. It's dark to me...that is; I doubt it'll be dark to the last."
Aside from the obvious significance of the coming of the Industrial Revolution, and its tendency to obliterate the simple, bucolic way of life in formerly sleepy environs, Silas' discovery is important because it proves to him that his past has been wiped out, and that he has been given a second chance at happiness. Although he will never know exactly how things turned out concerning the suspicions against him which forced him to flee his home, it does not really matter, because all has been forgotten. With the obliteration of his past comes the negation of all the guilt and suffering that went with it. Silas was innocent and justice has been served, and, despite the fact that he will always remain in the dark about how certain things came about, Silas accepts the situation as a good thing, the gift of a fresh start. About not knowing, he says,
"No...no: that doesn't hinder. Since the time the child was sent to me and I've come to love her as myself, I've had light enough to trusten by; and - now she says she'll never leave me, I think I shall trusten till I die" (Chapter 21).
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