The characters of Silas Marner and Jolil Miah are quite different in their background. They are different ages, different races and religions, and the places they are brought up in are also quite different. Silas grew up in the rural countryside, while the changes of the industrial revolution were going on (in the early nineteenth century), whereas Jolil lived in Brixton, in a rough council estate in urbanised London, in the nineteen sixties. Yet although they lived in a different day and time, their situations were somewhat similar. Their communities contrast in a number of ways, but both Silas and Jolil do not fit into these categorised societies. Silas, by the end of his lifetime, has at last been integrated into the community of Raveloe, and is accepted by the neighbours and other people in the village. But what happens to Jolil only makes him feel more of a misfit in his society than ever.
Jolil, a young Muslim boy growing up in London, is torn apart between his different cultures and societies. His father, who has emigrated from Bangladesh and doesn’t really know as much about the people and society in England, wants Jolil to practise his own religion and culture. However Jolil is more into Kung Fu, and hangs around with a black friend who his father doesn’t approve of. He is not very well integrated with the children at school, except for maybe some of the other Asian kids. Right at the beginning of the story, it says,
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“He usually left school gate with five or six of the other Asian boys. It wasn’t planned, but it was necessary. If they walked home together, they could pass the gangs of older white boys who gathered outside the school gates without fear. They’d take the short route home, and if they passed the cluster of hostile faces outside the white estate at the end of their street, they could quicken their steps and feel the safe warmth of being part of a crowd.”
Jolil was not the only one who hated having to watch your back all the time, feeling under threat. There was a group of them, who felt safer and confident together. It was the one thing they had in common, and walking home together was the one thing they could do to keep safe. Because it is set in the sixties, a time when many people were emigrating over from many other Asian countries, the people already in Britain at the time, had quite a negative and racist attitude towards them and the story reflects this attitude. He couldn’t really practise his culture in the society, for fear and embarrassment.
However, at the beginning of the book, Silas Marner, the main character, Silas, seems to get on with everybody has plenty of friends to turn to, he even has a fiancï¿½, which he his hoping to marry once he has enough money, which he his slowly saving up. Everybody has trust in him, but when the deacon of the parish falls ill, it is Silas’ turn to look after him and this is the turning point in Silas’ life. While he having one of his cataleptic fits, which were not very common or heard of then, somebody creeps in to the deacons room and steals a bag of money from the bureau, the same night the deacon dies. Somebody has framed him by putting his knife near the scene, and the stolen bag of money has been planted in his cottage.
All of the evidence points the crime to him, however Silas claims that he wouldn’t do anything of the sort, and protests that he has never been known to tell a lie. Since it’s all the evidence against Silas’ word, it is decided to “call the lots”, a process which relies purely on chance. Silas realises what he could lose, his friends and family, Sarah and his dignity, but places his trust in God, who he relies on to clear his name. Only Silas and God know that he is innocent, however “the lots declared that Silas was guilty”. This is a great shock to Silas, especially as he had put all his faith in God to prove that he was not guilty of the crime. Suddenly after the trial, Silas recalls that he lent his knife to his best friend, William Dane. After this, Silas not only loses his trust in God, but William, who he has grown up with all his life. They have all betrayed him, even Sarah who ends up marrying William about a month after the trial and after this, Silas is sentenced to exile and departs from Lantern Yard shortly after the wedding.
Silas moves into a stone cottage away from Lantern Yard, into another small community called Raveloe where he stays in isolation, without mixing, or fitting in the society. It is not only the fact that he is ashamed of the crime that he is supposedly meant to have committed, but that he has lost faith in god, and believes that if he makes more friends, or socializes, he may end up being hurt like he was in Raveloe. This is the deception that he has created for himself, and is not willing to ache the way he did at Lantern Yard again. If people don’t know him, they cannot hurt him. It is also the village itself that affects Silas’ attitude. Raveloe has a completely different atmosphere to Lantern Yard. “And what could be more unlike that Lantern Yard world than the world in Raveloe.”
The people are not as relaxed, although the farmers go to the local pub “The Rainbow” to socialize. The people were also much more religious, and they practised their religion in a different way that Silas knew. Mrs Winthrop is the one who finally encourages Silas to learn about the church. The other major factor contributing to Silas’ loneliness in Raveloe, is his epileptic condition. When his fits occur, they provoke people into gossiping, as the men do in “The Rainbow”. They discuss when and where he has had these “strange visitations” and try to give a possible explanation, but many feel that what happens to Silas cannot possibly explained, it is unnatural.
Mrs Osgood is quite impressed with Silas after he produces a linen tablecloth, because he works with such speed and determination in his weaving. Silas earned a lot of money working at the loom, and much of this went to charity. He does not think of himself, but is very proud. But, soon starts to save and count up the money. He is finally holding 5 golden guineas, which he has earned after all the hard work he has done, it is the first experience he has with the joy of his money. This money would not let him down like his faith in God had. He stayed at his loom so that he could earn more of these guineas, making them the centre, the purpose of his life. This becomes Silas’ obsession, it was still what he lived for, what ruled his life. When he first moved to the village of Raveloe, money was not a great importance in his life.
There is one incident, which rattles the whole village and their impression of Silas Marner. He has a reputation of keeping himself to himself and being a bit of a loner and forlorn. When he is told of poor Sally Oates illness, he prepares a natural remedy, which treats her better than any of the medicines the doctor gave her. This arouses superstition about Silas but it also shows his compassion for people. As more and more people hear of the great deed he did, and cured Sally Oates of her fateful illness, everyone begins to seek his knowledge of herbs and medical cures, they rush to his cottage, as they think that he must be the same sort of person as the Wise Woman, who in her description sounds much like a witch.
However he wouldn’t accept the money, and refused to help, denying that he had any knowledge of any drugs. In the novel, Eliot writes “Silas might have made a profitable trade in charms as well as in his small list of drugs; but money on this condition was of no temptation to him. ” he would rather make money honestly, than deceit the people, some of whom have walked from other villages to see him. This sort of work does not appeal too him at all. However they did begin to get slightly annoyed, and resent him for not giving them what he wanted, “and this heightened the repulsion between him and his neighbours, and made his isolation more complete.” They start to leave him alone and not bother him, but also make him feel more uncomfortable around them by shunning him.
It is partly because he was a social misfit in the village that he began to save the sovereigns that he earned, and hid them under a loose brick in the floor. For fifteen years, Silas has collected and not spent a penny on things he could do without, until he has a small fortune hidden under there. He gains comfort, contentment and even enjoyment from spilling the coins from the bag and calculate how much money he has accumulated. The night he discovers the money missing is a crucial one, he is taken aback. At fist he cannot believe that the coins have disappeared without a trace, he panics and becomes hysterical, he refuses to accept that the money isn’t there. He frantically searches the house, looks everywhere, and distressed, as he does not see it anywhere. He has lost everything he had worked and is screams to release his grief.
He finally has to acknowledge that the coins are nowhere too be found, they have been stolen by somebody. We know that Silas is deeply upset by this loss as he goes to “The Rainbow”, a place where he has never set foot the whole fifteen years he has lived in the village. This is the turning point in Silas’ life in Raveloe. He turns to the community for help for the first time. The people in the pub are astonished at the sight of Silas bursting through the door in a great panic about something. And everyone is in a fluster and a few accusations go on. The whole community, even the women pull together to try and help Silas recover from the shock.
They do this by actually coming to visit him and try to comfort him, as do Dolly Winthrop and Mr Macy, but also by making an investigation, finding witnesses and getting suspects although without any success. At this stage, Silas is slowly getting to know the people he has been living with for the last fifteen years, and during one of the visits from Mrs Winthrop who is tender-hearted woman, encourages him to buy himself a new suit and go to the town church one Sunday. But he explains that the town where he grew up, they attended a chapel, and Dolly is not entirely sure of the meaning of the word itself. She is just surprised that Silas has never devoted himself to church. This is his next step towards mixing in the society
After a while, the excitement wears off, especially as they are getting nowhere, but them is revived the night of New Years Eve, when young Eppie walks, literally in on Silas’ life. She sees the glowing fire in Silas’ cottage and walks toward it, caring for nothing else except the heat. Because Silas is having one of his epileptic fits, he doesn’t notice until he recovers, but even then, all he sees is Eppie’s golden curls by the fire, and the illusion looks like his gold coins have turned up. The small child arrived at the cottage as mysteriously as the gold disappeared. Only when Silas reaches out to touch it does he realize that it is the head of a little girl. Silas, still not entirely clear on what is going on, first mentions his little sister. ”
Could this be his little sister come back to him in a dream-his little sister whom he had carried about in his arms for a year before she died, when he was a small boy without shoes or stockings?” through this, we know that he has been through a lot when he was only young, and the pain of his sister dying must have been tremendous. Silas has been hurt pretty much all through his life, it isn’t a wonder he has no longer any faith. It is this similarity that brings Silas so close Eppie, she is only a small child and cannot let him down as other people can. Again, after discovering the body of Eppies mother, he turns to the community at the Red House for help. He is determined to keep and bring Eppie up alone, instead of giving her up to the parish. Since he now has a child in his care, the community are now beginning top automatically assimilating with him, especially Mrs Winthrop who naturally acts as a mother to Eppie.
However, Silas remains very protective of Eppie, he does not want her to leave him, or be taken away from him.. I think he feels that if he relies on Dolly Winthrop too much, he may end up losing Eppie but also tries to remain independent. He is reluctant to accept the help of the neighbours in fear of this. “But she’ll be my little un,” said Marner rather hastily; “she’ll be nobody else’s” I would say that he is being rather selfish and not really thinking of Eppie, after all, what Mrs Winthrop is saying in this paragraph is perfectly reasonable and justifiable, and also for Eppie’s benefit, and she will be the one most effected by the decisions made about her own future. It is these two people that eventually assist him into taking part in the community.
Mrs Winthrop has experience of bringing up children and has valuable knowledge, which Silas should take into account and listen to. I think that Silas quite forgets that the child isn’t even his own, and his behaviour is too possessive. Maybe he feels a sense of duty to look after Eppie, since she came to him in the first place. The major step Silas takes towards integration is the christening of Hephzibah in the town church. By allowing this, Silas is letting Eppie become apart of the community, and establishing her own links with society.
Through Eppie, Silas gets a sense of security about himself, when given the opportunity; she chooses not to take the chance to leave his old cottage and live with her biological father Godfrey Cass, in his large comfortable mansion. Silas’ money is returned to him, but he does not feel the comfort as he did from it. Silas then makes the decision to take Eppie into his home village and find out if his name was ever cleared of the crime, and what became of the parson. However, after returning to Lantern Yard after tree decades, he is nervous, and anxious, as he cannot remember the way properly and feels again, like a stranger in his own home town, but soon begins to feel at ease when they have reached Prison street.
But when they discover that the Lantern Yard and the chapel have been replaced, and can find no one who can tell them when and how the changes occurred. I do not think that Silas or Eppie are very disappointed, as the past has been erased, the past that caused Silas so much sorrow, although he will never know what happened about his case, only that he did not deserve to be exiled from the place. After seeing the present state of Lantern Yard, Silas must have been glad that he moved to another village, where he got so much happiness, especially in the last fifteen years.
Silas has regained his faith in god, after being hurt all his life. Silas has finally found something he can be sure will not betray him in his life; he has overcome his weakness. As Eppie says, “You won’t be giving me away father,” she had said before they went to church; ” you’ll only be taking Aaron to be a son to you.” This makes Silas confident that Eppie will never leave him, and is true to her word, even though has married Aaron. He realizes that his restored faith has brought back all the things he missed, Eppie, Aaron and Dolly have bought more happiness and contentment than he could ever achieve with his money. The gold was his barrier with the society, Eppie was the link.
Jolil, like Silas Marner, had a passion in his life, something that he lived for, although the two things were quite different. Jolil has a passion for Kung Fu. He idolises Bruce Lee who was the expert, the master of this art. He even compares himself with this person, and tries to find the similarities between them. As Jolil is staring into the mirror, not very oblivious of what is going on around him, “he touched his cheekbones. Yes, they were somewhat like Bruce Lee’s.” He only becomes aware when his father asks about the book he had bought home from that day. Jolil does not really try to explain to his father, just tried to hide the book. The only two people he can talk to about Kung Fu are his teacher, Mr Morrison, and Errol, his friend.
But is reluctant and discomfited to practise in front of everybody else. We are not told why he trusts Mr Morrison but he doesn’t want to explain to Mr Morrison why he was impatient to get home so quickly instead of waiting after school to see him about his English work. This also tells me that Jolil thinks that Mr Morrison also doesn’t understand. Jolil thinks ” he didn’t really catch on”, ” it was another reading exercise to him” when Mr Morrison gave him the book. Jolil considers his infatuation with Kung Fu to be a secret, as not many people know he is into it, but his close family may know. Jolil thinks that this secret is just another way he doesn’t fit into school, or the other children in the playground. He often talks to Errol, who he is receiving training from. I also think that Jolil looks up to Errol, he speaks of Errol’s modesty in the playground, and Jolil has learnt a lot of tricks from Errol. Errol is African Caribbean.
We can tell this from his name, and also because Jolil’s father refers to him as a “darkie”. I think that his father’s disapproval of Jolil hanging around with Errol only makes him more determined to do so. Jolil and Errol must be very close friends, because Jolil goes to visit his house on the Saturday, whereas he doesn’t even mention any other friends he has. Errol is Jolil’s only true friend, and he can be himself around him. The reason for Jolil’s deep interest in this martial art is that he wants to be a hero and protect everybody. He has many dreams and ambitions for his future in Kung Fu. He is trying to discipline himself, but hasn’t much confidence, he knows that he will have to be the best to become typical hero. Jolil then starts to compare himself with other Indian actors, like Rajesh Khanna, but this time; he isn’t going to be a typical film star.
” But if he ever became famous, he wouldn’t go and live in Malabar Hill like the other film stars did. He’d use his powers to do other things, to right a lot of wrongs, to be a saint of the fighting world.” He wants to be admired and respected as his sister-in-law respects and admires Indian film stars.
Jolil knows that it will be hard to achieve his dreams, but believes that he can do it, and is prepared to do all of the hard work. Jolil was reading the book that Mr Morrison gave him, and flicking through the pictures of Bruce Lee. “The red scars on his body were supposed to be blood wounds, but they looked deliberately cut into neat patterns.” He is a little sceptical, but continues to flick through the book. When he first finds out that Mr Morrison is going to show the whole school a video on the secrets of Kung Fu, he is very excited, enthusiastic and hopes to learn the secrets so that he may use them to protect himself, and others, he will never have to live in fear again, this video will teach him everything. But he is absolutely devastated when he finally sees the film. He feels let down and disappointed, as he faith in this film, the art of Kung Fu is really an illusion. It means he has to continue living the way he does; he cannot change it. It has destroyed his confidence, and his faith in Kung Fu. I don’t think Jolil was as upset about the fact that Kung Fu was an illusion as he was about the fact, he put his trust in it in the first place, and he must have felt quite foolish.
The first incident that we are directly told about in the story is when Jolil and his father are put in a situation where they are made to feel uncomfortable and awkward in their society. As they walk down the alley on the way to the mosque, the gang of white boys hanging around the parapet, begin to take advantage of the circumstances, as there is a group strong healthy youths confronting a young boy and an old man. As Jolil and Mr Miah approach the boys, the atmosphere grows tenser, and Jolil begins to regret taking this route, although it is shorter, and he also knows that they cannot run away; it’s too late to turn back. As the pair enter “white territory”, they are in a very vulnerable position. Mr Miah becomes very nervous at this point, his posture stiffens and his steps quicken. However, at first, he was fairly confident and scoffed at the thought of being felt inferior to anybody, yet now he becomes even more anxious. He realizes what is coming as well as Jolil, so their insults and abuse begins. The boys sneer and taunt the fact that Jolil and his father are Bengali Muslims living in a mainly white area. They mock their accent and language to upset Jolil, in a threatening tone. The feeling of relief is expressed soon after, as Jolil describes the peace and serenity of the mosque,
Mr Miah, in my opinion, is right in one way, that everybody should have the right to walk the streets without fear, but is merely being obstinate in his choice to take the short route than, take the longer but safer route. He is false I one sense, he puts on a fearless, self- assured act, to impress his son Jolil. It is the way he tries too bring his son up, but tries a little to hard. Jolil takes these offences more seriously, and is a lot more hurt by them. He can understand their jokes and puns properly, and the prejudice and racism involved. He has grown up with people like these, in this country, and with the children at his school, and has gradually learned to avoid and handle this. Mr Miah however has not had this experience and knowledge or understanding of the twists in the English language. To him, their rudeness is just an everyday part, which you must learn to accept, and tolerate their behaviour towards him as normal in that society.
But he is also embarrassed, but refuses too swallow his pride and believe that he has been humiliated, especially since it was in front of his son. Therefore he makes excuses, “you see why the Koran forbids us to drink?” This is his reason for not sticking up for them. He is blaming their racist attitude on the alcohol; they don’t consciously know what they were saying. A sober man would never consciously do this. On the way back, its almost as if, Mr Miah as automatically regained his confidence since he knows that he is safe and secure. He claims he would be ready to defend them both, had there been need. Jolil again makes a comment, which questions what is father is saying; his father replies, “My mouth was dry boy”.
This again, is not a proper justification. The second event in the story is not as distressing, but equally as significant as the incident in the alley. This shows that something as simple as buying chairs, can be turned into something much more critical. There is much more stereotyping about Asians at this particular time. It is that all Asians are working class, ignorant to the British standards of living, and go for the cheapest thing available (tight) even if it isn’t very good quality, and they all must have large families. The shopkeeper ridicules them, even though it isn’t too obvious from when they first enter the store. Even on the way back they are confronted, because Jolil’s father spits onto the streets, provoking the youths however does not anticipate that the two white boys will begin to terrorize them again.
After reading this, I feel that Mr Miah made a foolish move, and should have predicted that the whites would respond in this way. Although he tries to tell Jolil to escape while he can, Jolil sees the opportunity that he has been waiting for to show that he can fight like a tiger. Nevertheless, Jolil gets hurt in the attack and when one of the other youths gets injured, they see the chance to make a run for it. Leaving the chairs they rush straight back to their flat. Jolil’s mother and brother are quite suspicious as to why Jolil has red marks on his face and why him and his father seem nervous and why. Khalil does not accept his father’s answer, but shuts up when he uses God in hid defence, as he doesn’t go against Allah.
Mr Miah does not arouse much suspicion with Jolil, when he caught in the middle of the night, fiddling with the floorboards underneath the lino in the kitchen. But does warn Jolil not to let anyone find out about the incident, who immediately agrees, as he too ashamed to tell anybody since they ran away instead of facing the bullies. We later find out, that Mr Miah did stick up for them, and stabbed one of the boys, who died. It was obviously the knife, the murder weapon that he was hiding under the floor that night, and the police have already started investigating the murder when Jolil gets back from home. There is an immediate reaction of shock.