Literature Study GuidesThe MoonstoneSecond Period Third Narrative Chapters 9 10 Summary

The Moonstone | Study Guide

Wilkie Collins

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The Moonstone | Second Period, Third Narrative, Chapters 9–10 : The Discovery of the Truth (1848–1849) | Summary

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Summary

Third Narrative, Chapter 9

Franklin Blake and Ezra Jennings walk together. Blake describes Jennings as having "that gipsy complexion" and "puzzling contradiction between his face and figure which made him look old and young both together." Jennings explains Mr. Candy's illness. The doctor became ill after Rachel Verinder's birthday party. He recovered, but his memory is impaired and he remains unable to order his thoughts to speak properly. Jennings has been writing down Candy's ramblings in his own shorthand, trying to makes sense of what he says.

Third Narrative, Chapter 10

Jennings tells Blake that Mr. Candy spoke of him. Blake tells him of the Moonstone. Jennings reveals a bit of his history. Years ago, Jennings was accused of a crime he didn't commit, but he couldn't prove his innocence. Despite his history, Candy gave him a job. Jennings knows the details of his past will eventually reach him in Frizinghall, but by that point he'll be dead. He has an illness that is killing him, though his opium use is helping to extend his life.

Blake shares his role in the disappearance of the Moonstone. Jennings asks if he's ever used opium, and Blake answers no. He then asks Blake if he remembers how he slept the night of Rachel's birthday—did he sleep well after having problems sleeping for a while? Blake tells him yes.

Jennings tells him he can prove Blake was unaware of his actions. They agree to meet again later at Mr. Candy's to continue their conversation. When they regroup, Jennings questions him further. Blake explains he'd given up smoking and was having difficulty sleeping on the nights leading up to the Diamond's disappearance. He remembers having an argument with Mr. Candy during dinner about the medical profession. He'd also been extremely worried about giving Rachel Verinder the Moonstone.

Jennings takes out his notes of Candy's ramblings, along with his own attempts at trying to decipher them. He reveals that Candy gave Blake a dose of opium without his knowledge to win their argument over the efficacy of medicine.

According to Jennings, under the opium's influence Blake took the Diamond from Rachel to keep it, and her, safe. Blake and Jennings believe this is what happened, but now they must prove it to Rachel and the others. Jennings suggests they re-create the events leading up to that night. Blake will quit smoking once more, Jennings will administer the opium, and they will watch him for the night. Jennings writes to Rachel, asking for permission to use the Verinder house for the re-creation.

Analysis

Ezra Jennings is a contradiction. Throughout the novel we've seen characters that straddle the lines between different worlds or social classes, and characters that appear one way but are secretly another. Jennings appears to be the culmination of all these things. His appearance is striking, looking both old and young with his black-and-white hair, his movements and body those of a young man, but his face older than Gabriel Betteredge's. He's a man but "born with a female constitution." He's an outcast; a physician and an opium addict. It is fitting a man who seems to embody so many contradictions holds the key to unraveling the mystery of the Moonstone.

Jennings is similar to Rosanna Spearman, another societal outcast. She was a thief and a servant with the bearing of a lady; he's a disdained man with the self-possession of a gentleman. As Rosanna is an inverse mirror for Rachel, so too is Jennings for Blake. Much like Blake, Jennings is accused of a crime he didn't commit. Blake committed his "crime" under the influence of opium, while Jennings is an opium addict, helping Blake to re-create that event. Even without their criminal pasts, there is something physical that sets both Rosanna and Jennings apart: her deformed shoulder and his piebald hair. They are physically marked as different.

Wilkie Collins was familiar with opium; he was an opium user himself. As such, Jennings is written as a sympathetic character. Laudanum was a popular over-the-counter opium derivative used for pain. Collins used his personal experience with laudanum to fully flesh out the scenes with Jennings and the re-creation of the night of Rachel Verinder's birthday. Authorial experience functions to provide a sense of realism to the text.

In addition, Ezra Jennings functions as yet another amateur detective. He uses his own particular shorthand to decipher Mr. Candy's disjointed mutterings, managing to piece together the man's meaning.

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