The Little Stranger The Little Stranger question


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what was it?
Epona Epona Jul 01, 2011 08:13PM
so all ye who have read this book, what do you think it was at hundreds hall tormenting the ayres'? who.would have caroline recognized when she shouted "YOU!" before tumbling over the bannister?



I think it was the doctor, too, projecting himself somehow into the house as a result of his obsession with it and everything it represented. Subconsciously, he wanted to destroy everything that threatened it or stood between it and him.


It was definitely the doctor, but he was not aware of it. In the last sentence, he says that the ghost does not show itself to him, he only sees his own face in the window panes... At another point, Caroline says it seems as if the "ghost" wanted the house for itself, and the doctor greatly admired the place and was devastated by its state. The doctor is "the little stranger", the poltergeist, as Caroline calls it in her theory, the part of his unconscious responsible for the events. I absolutely loved this end!


She's been incredibly clever with her POV. But if you keep track of the details Faraday gives us when he's relating what, supposedly, he was told by someone else - i.e. the other doctor who finds Caroline dead... Then I think it pretty well clinches it.

And ultimately, by the end of the book, he gets what he wants, doesn't he? He's taking care of the shut up house, sweeping it, etc. It's his.


I think although yes in part we can say one level that it was the Doctor- it is heavily hinted that he pushed Caroline from the staircase (he had the only other copy of the door keys, and couldn't remember that night) I think there is more going on in this novel than this one reading.

The ghostly stranger, I think is also the past. We can interpret this in a fewof ways, firstly the 'little stranger' is the ailing British aristocratic classes, who feel the have becoming 'strangers' in a country that no longer wants them. They are relics of the past, clinging with some desperation to a time that has gone forever. The great British stately homes of the English countryside are akin to tombs, forming their final resting place. Caroline attempts to escape the fate of her class, but cannot. This could be seen as a metaphor for how many of the British upper-classes failed to adapt to a rapidly changing society.

From the beginning, Waters describes the new appearance of new homes for the working classes, and by the end of the book these houses have near swallowed the remains of Hundreds Hall. In this manner, the house and the family it cannibalises are victims of their past.

For the various characters, this also plays out on a micro level. The novel starts with Dr Faraday's memories of the house from his own childhood, as he remembers it. His emotional attachment to Hundreds Hall is cemented in these early memories, and thoughts of his mother.
Dr Faraday moves uneasily through the sphere of the gentry, always plagued by his own past. He is a stranger to both the upper-classes he has managed to penetrate through his education, and a stranger to his previous working class background. Education has made Dr Faraday another stranger, in this novel, who never feels he truly belongs anywhere. He is also a stranger to Hundreds Hall, unable to see or accept the terrible pain it is causing its residences, blinded by his own memories of the house. Faraday insists that he loves Caroline only for herself but it is plain from the beginning that he has another much deeper desire - for the hall itself. He denies himself this knowledge, and in this manner he is also a stranger to himself. This idea can be taken further when we think that Faraday had no conscious knowledge that he killed Caroline.

The two children are psychologically haunted by the dead sister they never knew. Rod is most especially effected by the knowledge that he could never live up to the sister who was so perfect in his mothers eyes. He is haunted by her presence, and the presence she has left in his mother. Susan then, is also the 'little stranger,' a 'ghost' they cannot know but who has left an indelible marks on their lives. Interesting then, that Waters chooses exactly that to indicate Susan - a series of marks across the house.
The mother, a victim of her age, was forced to push Susan from her mind. To have more babies as quickly as possible. In this way, she also made a 'stranger' of Susan's memory, never speaking of her. This in turn exasperated the secret veins of jealousy and inadequacy felt in Rod and Caroline, and added to Susan's status as a 'stranger.'


Sheila (last edited Jan 25, 2012 11:53AM ) Jan 25, 2012 11:30AM   1 vote
I'm conflicted about this. Dr. Faraday is the obvious choice. He's definitely an unreliable narrator (and a complete jerk), and he's suspiciously at the house when a lot of events occur. However, I don't think Betty can be overlooked either. She's at the novel's beginning--she even started the ghost sighting rumors--and end, and is suspicious in her own right. She's also a stranger to the house.


Definitely Dr Faraday - I went through the book again recently to demonstrate this to as friend and the good Dr is the unreliable narrator. He's always not about if something happens or just off screen so to speak. He is the little stranger at the beginning as he takes a piece of the plaster in the form of an acorn with him after a party and is left in control of Hundreds at the end. He says several times that he hates the family and one by one they are picked off including Caroline herself. He;s more upset about her selling the house than breaking off their engagement.


Dr. Faraday I guess!


Really interested in this conversation. I have always had the opinion that it was somehow the doctor but never really been happy with that conclusion.


I reckon it was the doctor. At the end of the book when we hear he goes back to the house now and then, he often thinks he sees something out of the corner of his eye - and it's his refection! Only problem - faraday is only called to the house in the first place when Betty's 'faking it'. She says then that there's something evil in the house and it's been there since she arrived....


Yes, it was the doctor. It's been awhile since I read it, but I remember there were things that made that pretty clear. I don't think he was aware of it. I found this book very annoying, as everyone in it seemed clueless! By the end, I didn't even care what happened to these folks who were too stupid to get the heck out of a place that was clearly ruining them. This is the first book I've read written by her. Are her others any better?


Wow, it never occurred to me that it was Dr. Faraday but it makes perfect sense.


deleted member Mar 24, 2015 06:41PM   0 votes
I had no idea who it could have been until the very last line, which dropped a strong hint that it was Faraday.

But since many people believe it's him, it's refreshing to consider other possibilities. Like the ghost of Susan, or the house itself being evil.


I'm fairly convinced now that it was Faraday but extremely disappointed because I liked him. Loved him in fact. To me he was the light in an otherwise very dark book. So, a very sad ending, IMO.

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Paige Interesting. By Faraday's own free admission he engaged in abusive behavior toward Caroline--tried to sexually assault her, grabbed her wrist, said re ...more
May 08, 2016 10:40PM

deleted member May 08, 2014 11:46AM   0 votes
That ending was strongly suggestive of its being the doctor, yes, but when someone's review suggested Caroline might be a repressed lesbian, I immediately thought of Seeley's comment about sex being the darkest urge of them all.

F 25x33
Fiona It seems the "ghost" haunts the members of the family by replaying some of their worst experiences. Fire in the case of Roderick burned during his RAF ...more
May 15, 2016 10:02AM · flag

I kept going back and forth on this question when I was reading, but in the end I suspect it was Dr. Faraday himself, especially when Caroline shouted "You!" He had an awful lot of "I fell asleep" moments right before something major happened.


I agree with Meagan, the only thing that made sense to me was he was causing it all somehow without even being aware of it. I didn't like the way this book ended. I usually really love Sarah Waters books, but I wasn't happy with the ending of this one.


That would be the only person to benefit from things. Betty! She just wanted a factory job and everybody that got in her way died. My book review has my thoughts in excessive detail.


It was the doctor! It is so obvious to me that I am utterly shocked anyone would think otherwise. Read the book again in that context and you’ll see what I mean (I hope).


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