Sir Arthur Canon wrote a fiction detective story by the titleSherlock Homes. He portrays Homes as an eccentric person whoadored personal cleanliness. Holmes was a famous detective with anassistant called Watson who worked with him for seventeen years.Besides, he was an arrogant scientist who dwelled on his deductionsand avoided the company. A critical analysis of the story of SherlockHolmes: A Case of Identity shows different sources of conflictthat relate to parents and children and how they contribute towardsthe meaning of the work.
Conflict in literature can be defined as a resistance or conflictbetween characters or groups. Most writers introduce conflict at thebeginning of the plot and work their way around it and solve ittowards the end of the story. Conflict can be internal or external.In Sherlock Holmes’ story titled A Case of Identity, thereis a conflict between Mary Sutherland and her stepfather Mr.Windibank. Mary wants to investigate the disappearance of Mr. HosmerAngel, her fiancé but her stepfather is adamant to help her. Hence,she seeks the help of Sherlock Holmes who is well known for hisinvestigative wits. A person-to-person conflict is viewed between thetwo because the stepfather is not willing to help the daughter. Thefather behaves like a sociopath who does not care about the feelingof the girl. There is a strain on the parent-child relationship. Forexample, in the novel, Mary goes out to the ball without thepermission of his stepfather, but he does not care as Mary narratedto Holmes “Oh, well, he was exquisite about it…He laughed, Iremember, and shrugged his shoulders, and said there was no usedenying anything to a woman, for she would have her way” (Doyle 3).
Holmes met Mary when her stepfather was out of the country. Thestepfather was more concerned with his business than his child. Itwas hard for Mary to relate to his stepfather as their age differencewas about five years. Mary’s mother married a younger husband afterthe passing of her husband (Doyle 3). There is a lack of respectbetween the child and the parent.
Mary’s father had a negative view of women, which reflected on Maryherself. He undermines women in general. It impacts negatively onMary as she battles with self-esteem to the extent that she has towait for her stepfather to leave the country for her to date Mr.Angel. Mary and Angel insist on keeping their relationship a secretdespite the fact that they have been engaged for a while. In thebook, Angel coerces Mary to promise to marry him before hisstepfather returns. Angel feared Windibank such that he could onlystroll with Mary in the evening.
Windibank was only interested in Mary’s money. Thus, marrying themother gave him access to Mary’s funds. He objects to therelationship between Mary and Angel because once they wed, he willnot access the funds. There is a conflict in the two characters dueto the selfishness of the step- father towards his daughter, Mary.
The external conflict between the child and parent is seen whenMary’s mother and stepfather do not bother to assist in findingAngel. They are less concerned about his disappearance. Windibankcreates a false family for her stepdaughter so that she does notmingle with people outside their family circle to protect hisinterest. There is an internal conflict in the case of Windibankbecause of multiple identities. He disguised himself as Angel to bewith his stepdaughter. He typed the letters that he sent to Mary. Theflow of the letters was similar, and so Holmes was able to deducethat they were from the same person (Doyle 64). The fact that Angelonly appeared when Mary’s stepfather was away puzzled her.Consequently, she battled with her reasoning, thereby creatinginternal conflict.
The different conflicts found in the story contribute to the meaningof the work because just like any fiction story, conflict drives thenarrative. Compelling characters turn the reader and keep them atbay. Seeds of doubt have to be planted in the reader`s mind, andobstacles thrown towards the main character. That is exactly what theconflict in the case of identity reflected. There was doubt on howAngel disappeared and left Mary at the altar, and the suicide noteswere also questionable. It keeps the uncertainties till the end ofthe novel compelling the readers to complete the reading.
To sum up, both internal and external conflicts of the characters areapplied in literature most especially in fiction. Sherlock Holmesnarrative, A Case of Identity portrayed conflict that canrelate to parent-child conflict. Both types of conflicts affect thiskind of relationship. Battles give life to the plot of the narrativeand push the reader to complete the book. Internal and externalconflict contributed towards the richness of the book. The twist andturns give meaning to the plot of the story. Person-to-personconflict and person-to-society conflict have been established in thestory.
Doyle, Arthur Conan. Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels andStories. Vol. 1. Bantam