What effect does Silas have on the gathering at the party?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Silas had not initially meant to attend Squire Cass' New Years Eve party at the Red House. However, when a beautiful, golden-haired toddler wanders into his home and falls asleep by the fireplace, Silas is too perplexed not to seek out answers to his questions.

He is even more disturbed when he discovers the lifeless body of the child's mother in the snow near his cottage. Unbeknownst to Silas, the child's mother was actually Molly Farren, Godfrey Cass' opium-addicted wife. Godfrey had kept his marriage to Molly a secret because he was ashamed of his connection to her. Molly, for her part, was tired of being kept in the shadows and wanted to reveal everything to the Cass family. At the time of her death, Molly was actually making her way to the Cass home; however, the effects of opium had caused her to fall asleep in the snow, and she never regained consciousness. Molly died with her secret intact.

Silas unceremoniously 'crashes' the party, so to speak, when he calls at the Red House with the child in his arms. He announces that he needs a doctor to see about a dead woman not far from his home. Silas is intercepted by Mr. Crackenthorp and Mr. Lammeter when he initially enters the Cass home, and Mr. Crackenthorp offers to alert the doctor himself. The reaction of everyone at the party ranges from astonishment to curiosity. Everyone is amazed to see him and curious as to his real reasons for showing up.

While the women are intrigued by the beautiful toddler, Mr. Kimble, the doctor, is not so pleased at having been disturbed during his card game. However, long years of schooling himself to accept unceremonious interruptions allow him to proceed in a tolerably dispassionate mood. Godfrey, on the other hand, is secretly terrified and uneasy because he suspects that the child might actually be his and Molly's. Eventually, when he does take a look at the corpse and realizes that Molly is now dead, Godfrey is privately relieved that his shameful secret will never see the light of day. Without compunction, he looks forward to succeeding in his suit for the beauteous Nancy Lammeter's hand in marriage.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Silas entered the party in a state of shock (if you are referring to the New Year's Eve party) accusing Jem and others of stealing his gold. In the middle of this shock, people were also astonished because of the pale look in Silas's face, and the honest humbling and self deprecation he did in admitting that he had been robbed. It was a very interesting chain reaction that was proportional to Silas himself. Whenever he accused everyone would be offended and as angry as he was. After he broke down people began to feel sorry for him and everyone almost instantly wanted to come to his aid. This was the moment of community Silas had never been able to experience before and would have never imagined that he would experience in Raveloe or anywhere.