What is the end result of Silas' helping Sally Oates in Silas Marner?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Silas notices that Sally Oates is having a difficult time breathing, as she has heart problems and dropsy, much like Silas's mother did before she died. Moved to pity, Silas administers her some foxglove, which he recalls had helped his mother, and she experiences relief from her symptoms as a result.

As a consequence of the help Silas provides to Sally Oates, many local people in Raveloe come to him for "charms" to help them or their children recover from ailments such as whooping cough or rheumatism. When Silas does not provide them with the charms that they want, they feel bitter toward him and feel that Silas has special powers that he is using for ill purposes. As Eliot writes, "every man and woman who had an accident or a new attack after applying to him, set the misfortune down to Master Marner’s ill-will and irritated glances." In other words, the people suspect Silas of having occult powers that he is using for evil purposes, and their suspicion makes them even more wary of him. He is increasingly isolated in the village as a result. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The main result of Silas Mariner helping Sally Oates feel better by providing her with a concoction known as "the stuff" was, first and foremost, unwelcome and unwanted attention.

Ever since the word got around that Silas was able to cure people, mothers, neighbors and every person who needed any kind of cure for themselves and others would come by his house or stop him to ask for a favor. They even came with pieces of silver which, at the time, he was not interested in collecting from anyone.

After that, the isolation on Silas's part became stronger because he was annoyed at all this attention and expectation, hence, he liked people around him even less.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial