In Miss Hinch, how is the conflict resolved?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Miss Hinch was first published in MacClure's Magazine in 1911 and is full of mystery and intrigue. The reader of this short story by Henry Sydnor Harrison soon learns of the unexplained and unsolved case of the murder of John Catherwood in quite spectacular style—with a sword. There is no question as to the murderer—Miss Hinch—but she has managed to elude the authorities as she is a master of disguise. People are on edge everywhere as they speculate over what could have happened and where Miss Hinch might be. This represents the rising action which builds toward the climax of the story. 

The story follows an interesting plot structure as the reader becomes aware that one of the characters is indeed the evil murderer Miss Hinch and the other is Jessie Dark, a journalist intent on revealing the identity of Miss Hinch. The conflict is therefore indicative of man versus man as the two participate in a struggle to outwit each other and emerge the winner. Both have disguises; one is a clergyman and the other a servant and just a "poor old woman." The reader does not know which is which and the plot draws the reader in further and further as either character could be the murderer but each clue leaves the reader more confused. Even the police doubt that these two unassuming characters could have any real information for the police. 

Matters reach a head and the old woman falls to her death. The conflict is finally resolved when the clergyman reaches down to retrieve the old woman's handkerchief. She has been revealed as Miss Hinch and her death is of no real consequence to passers-by who are just so impressed by the actions and bravery of the clergyman. The final twist comes as the clergyman's own disguise is revealed and his chin (or actually "her" chin), of which there is "only one such chin in the world," reveals the real murderer, whereupon she is arrested. Thus the conflict is revealed and Jessie Dark (disguised as the old woman) is revealed as the real victor—even if it is from beyond the grave.  

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Miss Hinch

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