After Eppie finds the scissors to cut her leash and runs off, Silas worries that something has happened to her. When he finds her, he feels he must punish her because she might do it again. Unfortunately, he has no idea how to do this.
It was not until he had carried her home, and had begun to think of the necessary washing, that he recollected the need that he should punish Eppie, and “make her remember.” (ch 14, p. 71)
He decides that putting her in the coal hole will teach her a lesson, but she just thinks it’s a game. He feels like a failure, and decides that punishment does not work. He can’t bring himself to physically hurt her.
So Eppie was reared without punishment, the burden of her misdeeds being borne vicariously by father Silas. (ch 14, p. 71)
Silas does everything he can to ensure that she does not get into danger. He makes the “soft nest” sfeo that she can’t get hurt. He watches her carefully. He blames himself for any trouble she gets into, and constantly worries.
Dolly warns Silas that babies cause trouble, and that it is his responsibility to foresee and prevent the trouble. She tells him all babies are alive, dogs or humans, and go through trouble-causing stages.
Many doubted that Silas was going to be able to raise Eppie. Godfrey was surprised he wanted to take her, but he clearly loves her and does his best with her. In a way, he is a perfect father.