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Friday, June 5, 2009

Ezra Jennings

Ezra Jennings is the assistant to Mr. Candy, the Verinder family doctor. He is first mentioned as a guest at Rachel's birthday dinner; however his prominence in the novel is not developed until the narrative of Franklin Blake. At this point of the story, Jennings is taking care of the ill Mr. Candy, whose illness first sets in after the dinner and who requests Franklin to visit but has trouble remembering what it is that he wants to tell the latter. Jennings is able to decipher what it is that Mr. Candy wants Franklin to know, thus providing a significant piece to the mystery.

Franklin finds Jennings to be a very intriguing person, first by his outer appearance.

"His complexion was of a gipsy darkness; his fleshless cheeks had fallen into deep hollows, over which the bone projected like a pent-house. His nose presented the fine shape and modelling so often found among the ancient people of the East, so seldom visible among the newer races of the West. His forehead rose high and straight from the brow. His marks and wrinkles were innumerable. From this strange face, eyes, stranger still, of the softest brown—eyes dreamy and mournful, and deeply sunk in their orbits—looked out at you, and (in my case, at least) took your attention captive at their will. Add to this a quantity of thick closely-curling hair, which, by some freak of Nature, had lost its colour in the most startlingly partial and capricious manner. Over the top of his head it was still of the deep black which was its natural colour. Round the sides of his head—without the slightest gradation of grey to break the force of the extraordinary contrast—it had turned completely white. The line between the two colours preserved no sort of regularity. At one place, the white hair ran up into the black; at another, the black hair ran down into the white. I looked at the man with a curiosity which, I am ashamed to say, I found it quite impossible to control. His soft brown eyes looked back at me gently; and he met my involuntary rudeness in staring at him, with an apology which I was conscious that I had not deserved."

From this description one learns that he has a dark complexion and he resembles someone of Eastern origin. The use of the phrase "fleshless cheeks" almost assigns a lifeless look to him. His hair, which Betteredge describes as piebald, is a mixture of black and white. His sullen looks are a testament of the past he has endured, especially considering he is only 40 but could be mistaken as being older than Betteredge who is at least seventy. Jennings, whom Franklin describes as inscrutable, begins to tell the story of his family history before abruptly stopping:

"'No. I was born, and partly brought up, in one of our colonies. My father was an Englishman; but my mother—We are straying away from our subject, Mr. Blake; and it is my fault. The truth is, I have associations with these modest little hedgeside flowers—It doesn't matter; we were speaking of Mr. Candy. To Mr. Candy let us return.'"

Nevertheless, we get a clear picture that he is of mixed origin.

Despite Jennings' appearance and his history of being an outcast, Franklin describes him as a "gentleman." The outer appearance of Jennings has caused other to view him suspiciously, making it nearly impossible for him to maintain a position anywhere in England. Nevertheless, Collins portrays him as a man injustly ostracized from society but who proves to be not only educated and learned, but also valuable in solving the mystery of the diamond. It is through someone of mixed heritage, which along with his piebald hair suggests a coexistence of the races, that the mystery is solved. Jennings' addiction to opium may be an illustration of the struggle between England and its colonies.

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