Friday, October 17, 2014

Baskervilles Read-Along: The Problem (Ch. 3)

I really like this chapter.  We start to dig into the mystery, Holmes gets perfectly Holmesish, and I'm positively bouncing with delight.

One of my favorite moments is when Dr. Mortimer tells Holmes he knows how long Sir Charles had stood there because of the cigar ashes on the ground.  Holmes cries, "Excellent!  This is a colleague, Watson, after our own heart" (p. 589).  I love that he says "our own heart," not "my own heart."  It's like a little apology to Watson for tweaking him about his deductive abilities earlier.  

And I like Dr. Mortimer more and more, don't you?  Scribbling notes on his shirt cuffs!  Reminds me of me -- I tend to write things on the back of my left hand to be sure I don't forget them.

Something new struck me during this reading.  While showing Watson the map of Devonshire, Holmes says, "This, then, is the stage upon which tragedy has been played, and upon which we may help to play it again" (p. 593).  I never noticed before that Holmes seriously thinks something tragic could happen again, that Dr. Mortimer is not just being superstitious and fanciful.

Favorite Lines:

"I have hitherto confined my investigations to this world," said he.  "In a modest way I have combated evil, but to take on the Father of Evil himself would, perhaps, be too ambitious a task" (p. 590).

"The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes" (p. 592).

Possible Discussion Questions:

Holmes says Watson "is not a man with intimate friends" (p. 592).  Do you think he means besides himself?  Or does he not think of himself as Watson's intimate friend either?  (And of course, in that day, "intimate" meant "closely acquainted, familiar, dear.")


  1. Maybe Watson has good friends, but none that he would like to spend the whole day with. And Holmes is so mysterious that it's probably hard to be intimate with him.

    I enjoyed this chapter, and I can't wait to see how the mystery turns out!!

    1. And I just though of something else: Maybe Watson is picky about who he chooses to be friends with, so it's not that he doesn't have friends, he just hasn't found his intimate friends. But that is probably reading into the situation wayyyy too much :D

    2. I think Holmes was making a true observation here about Watson, that he's not a man who acquires lots of close friends. He does have sort of peripheral friends, like whatshisname who introduced him to Holmes in the first place and the guy who takes over his practice whenever he needs to go help Holmes solve a case. But he only has one really close friend, and that person happens to like keeping people at arm's length. Or at least doesn't like letting on that he feels a deep connection to anyone.

      (That may or may not make any sense -- it's long past my bedtime.)

  2. I always wondered about Watson's circle of friends. Like, was he okay with spending nearly all his time with his kooky flatmate? Whom did he chill with at the pub? How on earth did he ever meet Mary?! (Of course, I could just go read the stories.) Anyways, I think maybe Holmes meant Watson held most people at arms' length, so he was never particularly tied down by any few persons. He could totally go spend a few weeks on the moor, because he had no one but Sherlock to answer to.

    Also, writing things on my hand is the only way I survive. It's my catchphrase. If you tell me to help you remember something, I always say "Write it on your hand." Now my friends say it before I get the words out. It'll probably be on my tombstone.

    1. Well, Watson at the beginning of the stories has just gotten back from war, so he's kind of at a loose end and doesn't have a bunch of chums to pal around with. He does have an old acquaintance who introduces him to Holmes, but that's about it. In this, he does talk about spending the day at his club, so he's obviously got acquaintances there. But I'm going to do a little hypothesizing here, somewhat based on MBTI typing and myself. Watson is pretty universally typed as an ISFJ, which is what I am. And I know that I develop casual friendships pretty readily, but that it takes me a really long time to open up to a friend and let them get close. I do hold people at arm's length. I wait until I know them pretty doggone thoroughly before I call them a close friend. So I imagine Watson is the same.

      As for how he met Mary, he met her through Holmes! She's part of the case "The Sign of the Four." That's all I'll say.

      If I ever lost my hand or my wall calendar, I'd be doomed. Everything is on one or the other. I love that you have a catchphrase!!!

    2. Oh, right. I typed myself as an ENFP, because I always get different answers on the tests. I totally forgot about Watson's friend introducing them.

      I have about 8 Sherlock stories on my Kindle; I think I'll start those once I finish Phantom of the Opera.

      Catchphrases are good: they get on people's nerves, because you can always say I told you so. ;-)


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