The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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What is the conflict in Chapter 12 in the book The Hound of the Baskervilles?

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The conflict is a character vs. character conflict between Holmes and the murderer. 

A character vs. character conflict is a conflict between two characters.  Even before Holmes knows who the murderer is, he had a conflict with him because he was trying to kill his client.  Holmes is trying to prove that Stapleton is the murderer, and in the meantime there is another death. 

This is an interesting chapter, because Holmes arrives.  Watson comes upon him by accident, having no idea that he has been there all along.  With two ordinary men that might cause a conflict.  Watson is not really that upset though, even when he learns that Holmes has deceived him.  It is more like mild irritation that he wrote a bunch of reports for nothing.  He is thrilled to see Holmes.  He feels in over his head. 

Holmes is getting close to proving who is the murderer.  He is aware that the Stapletons have a secret.  Miss Stapleton is actually Mrs. Stapleton.  This is very suspicious behavior. Holmes knows from what Watson told him and what he discovered that Stapleton and Laura Lyons were involved. 

They hear a dog and see a man on the moor.  At first Holmes thinks it is Sir Henry, since he is the one in danger. 

I saw Holmes put his hand to his forehead like a man distracted. He stamped his feet upon the ground.

"He has beaten us, Watson. We are too late."

"No, no, surely not!"

"Fool that I was to hold my hand. And you, Watson, see what comes of abandoning your charge! But, by Heaven, if the worst has happened we'll avenge him!" (Ch. 12) 

It turns out that the dead man is not Sir Henry.   It is actually the escaped convict, the brother of Mrs. Barrymore, Selden.  He is the Notting Hill murderer.  Watson caught Mr. Barrymore at the window in the middle of the night with a candle, communicating with him.

"And what is your theory of this poor fellow's death?"

"I have no doubt that anxiety and exposure have driven him off his head. He has rushed about the moor in a crazy state and eventually fallen over here and broken his neck."

"That seems the most reasonable theory," said Stapleton, and he gave a sigh which I took to indicate his relief.” (Ch. 12) 

At this point, there is not sufficient proof that Stapleton is the murderer.  Holmes is well on the way though.  In addition, he also has a character vs. nature or character vs. supernatural conflict against the dog.  The hound is supposedly killing people or sending them to their deaths.  If it really was a ghost, it would be supernatural.


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