Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Commentary on a short story

More recently I read a short story written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This story’s name is The Five Orange Pips. This story talks about a young man named John Openshaw that looks for Sherlock Holmes help at his house in the famous Baker Street, on a rainy day.
This young man tells his story to the detective, saying that he is the only one who can help him. He says that he´s in danger and afraid to die.
His father’s brother, uncle Elias, went to live in America very early, and came back to England after the Civil War. His uncle was a strange, unhappy man who drank a lot and that didn’t want to have any friends. However, he was very kind .
John Openshaw went to live whit is uncle when he was twelve years old. In his uncle’s house there was one small room, where nobody could come in. One day uncle Elias received a letter from India, and inside were five little orange pips, and three K’s on the back. After receiving that letter, his uncle ran immediately to the secret room, taking a box with the same three K’s and burnt all the papers in that box, saying that the letter meant death, and seven weeks later he was found dead in a river.
Everyone, even the police, thought he had killed himself, but John didn’t believe it. After his uncle died, his father moved to his brother’s house, until one year later he also received the same letter that his brother had, but saying “Put the papers in the garden”. This time the letter came from Scotland. His father didn’t care about it and three days later he also died. The police said that he was walking home after a visit to a friend and fell down a hill, but John knew that his death had something to do with the strange letter, the three K’s and the five orange pips.
During three years trying to forget his family’s tragedy, he also received the letter, with the same words as his father: “Put the papers in the garden”. This time, the letter came from East London.
Sherlock Holmes said that he must hurry home, put the little piece of burn paper  that he found in the secret room inside his uncle’s box, and also put in a letter saying that his uncle had burnt all the papers and finally put the box in the garden.
Unfortunately, in the next morning Sherlock Holmes read in the newspaper that John Openshaw was found death. Sherlock Holmes got very angry with these news, and decided to find the men who had murdered him.
Putting all the pieces together, he concluded that the enemies of John Openshaw belonged to an organization known as the Ku Klux Klan, and that the letters had been sent from sea ports, so who sent these letters should be on board of a ship.
The Ku Klux Klan are a secret group of South America that fight against equality of black people and kills everyone who doesn’t agree with them.
Uncle Elias belonged to that group and when he left America he brought with him all the papers that belong to the organization. 
After some research, Sherlock Holmes discovered the names of the enemies of John Openshaw and decided to send them a surprise to scare them. So he took five pips from an orange, put them in an envelope and wrote on it S. H. to J. C. , from Sherlock Holmes to Captain James Calhoun.
James Calhoun is a captain from a ship called Star, that was the only ship that had been on these three sea ports, and was sailing back to America. When they arrived there, they would receive the letter.
Sherlock Holmes is a very clever detective, but he could not do anything about the weather, so during a winter storm, the captain and his men had disappeared, and the Star never arrived at its destiny.
In the end, the murderers of John Openshaw and his family never got the pips, but death came to them.
I really enjoyed reading this story, because it is very interesting until the very end. This is the type of stories that makes us want to come quickly to the end, just to discover the mystery. This is a short story and when I ended it I wanted to read more and became a little sad to have finished so fast. I believe that the plot is quiet understandable, and the only difficulty I had was to understand the meaning of the five orange pips. At the beginning I thought that orange was the color and not the fruit, but after some research on the Internet I figured it out. 

Vanessa Ramos Pina

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