In Silas Marner, why does Silas think that his gold has been brought back to him and what is the reality of the gold curls?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Since Silas Marner has lost his money, he has acquired the habit of looking out his door periodically as though his money might somehow be returned to him, or that somehow someone would report the news of it.

It was chiefly at night, when he was not occupied in his loom, that he fell into this repetition of an act for which he could have assigned no definite purpose, and which can hardly be understood except by those who have undergone a bewildering separation from a supremely loved object. [Ch.XII]

On New Year's Eve, Marner lingers longer in his doorway, and when he finally turns back, he is chilled. So, he sits in his chair in order to gather logs for the fire when "with his blurred vision" he notices something on the floor, something golden. Silas wants to believe it is his beloved gold that has been mysteriously returned to him; however, when he myopically leans forward to touch his gold, his hand "encounters soft warm curls" that belong to a baby girl, whom he at first wonders if she may be his lost sister returned to him. With this memory come others:  those of Lantern Yard and "old quiverings of tenderness" and "old impressions of awe at the presentiment of some Power presiding over his life."

This reality of his suddenly being in possession of a child distracts Marner from his longing for his gold. Instead, he is occupied with the child who is hungry, and whose feet are wetted by the little boots on her feet. And, this child has reminded Marner of his old faith and friendships and loves.

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