“A Case of Identity”
There is something “jewel-box-like” about IDEN and it may be one of Watson’s great triumphs of writing. It is almost wholly personal.
It has four distinct parts: 1) the philosophical discussion between Watson and Holmes; 2) the client’s characterization and statement of the case; 3) the interview with the miscreant, Windibank; and 4) the solution.
In the philosophical discussion in the first few pages, prior to the arrival of Mary Sutherland, Holmes and Watson have what Buttons interprets as one of their most interesting and revealing talks about their personal positions and beliefs.
In the middle sections, the “crime” is not actionable and James Windibank and his wife– Mary’s mother– who is an equally guilty partner in the deception, exit stage left with impunity.
But, in the end, what of Mary Sutherland who exits the case unconsidered, unfulfilled, and apparently unloved by anyone? How does the philosophical discussion of Holmes and Watson–setting up the story–pertain to Mary? Is Mary Sutherland already a sadder, but wiser, independent woman for her experience, or is she to be forever a woman wronged and dependent upon the kindness of others?
This is fertile ground, essentially unplowed by Watsonians and Sherlockians, and ready for a provocative and fascinating joint-article for The Watsonian. Will you contribute? We welcome your participation.