What discovery does Silas make at the end of the chapter in Silas Marner?

Expert Answers
teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since the question does not indicate which chapter is referenced, I will discuss the events surrounding Silas's discovery of Godfrey's child, Eppie.

After discovering that Eppie's mother is dead, Silas makes another important discovery, this time about himself: he learns that his paternal instincts are very much alive. As the baby turns to him for her every comfort, Silas's protective inclinations begin to emerge as a powerful force for good in the community. Indeed, Silas's solicitude for the girl surprises not only the villagers but also himself.

When Mrs. Kimble offers to take charge of Eppie, Silas balks. He argues that he will not part with the child, since she came to him first. Silas's "speech, uttered under a strong sudden impulse, was almost like a revelation to himself: a minute before, he had no distinct intention about the child." To Silas's surprise, he discovers that he is already behaving like Eppie's guardian.

Likewise, when Godfrey asks Silas whether he will take the child to the parish (likely to discuss the question of the child's fate), the latter strongly protests against the suggestion. Silas argues for keeping Eppie until someone comes up with a reason for why he cannot. Silas's natural affection for Eppie leads him to confide in Dolly, who teaches him how to wash, dress, and hold the child. To Silas's delight, he discovers that his solicitude for Eppie humanizes him in the eyes of his fellow villagers.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the end of the chapter after Silas Marner finds the baby asleep by his fire, he enters a state of semi shock in which he starts remembering the past. Then, after he snaps out of it, he realizes that the baby had wet boots and so he realized that she must have lost her way and come from somewhere. So Silas decided to follow the steps in the snow to try and track down where the baby may have come from. As he did this, he noticed something strange at the end of the road. When he looked he was in shock to find out that it was the body of a dead woman. This dead woman was none other than Godfrey's estranged wife, Molly, who had come from out of town to take revenge on Godfrey for abandoning her. She was more than willing to go make a scene at the Red House and she was going to disclose everything about the secret marriage to Godfrey, the existence of a baby, and all the other things Godfrey kept to himself since the woman was of lower birth and was also a trashy opium addict.

However, she could not complete her journey as she had an accident with her horse and she was sent flying through the air until she fell and died from the fall. The baby had been trying to find a warm spot and the closest she could follow was the way leading towards Silas Marner's cottage, where the fire was lit.