Silas Marner begins the story as a hardworking, devout man who trusts that others are as good and honest as he is. When he is framed for theft, he has a rude awakening. Unable to clear his name, he moves to a different community and starts over. The experience is so jarring, however, that he loses his faith. His guarded behavior upon arriving in Raveloe largely stems from his fear of discovery. As time passes, he becomes even more secretive and treats everyone with suspicion and even hostility. His growing wealth becomes an object of obsession, and he focuses on money to the exclusion of personal relationships.
Silas begins to undergo a substantial transformation when a tiny girl appears in at his door; he names her Eppie and becomes her adoptive father. Through much of the novel, her true identity remains unknown, but she is ultimately revealed as the daughter of Godfrey Cass, who had not acknowledged her, and Molly Cass, who abandoned her and then died. Through Eppie’s influence, including the love she lavishes on him, Silas becomes a warm, caring person and a full-fledged member of the community. In his old age, the now-married Eppie continues to care for him.