The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle: Plot Summary & Analysis

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  • 0:04 The Blue Carbuncle
  • 1:11 Horner & The Hat Man
  • 1:57 The Goose Salesman
  • 3:48 Analysis & Red Herrings
  • 5:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

If you're reading The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, you might find it tough to keep track of all the happenings. In this lesson, we will take a look at the plot as well as analyze how the events reflect a bigger picture.

The Blue Carbuncle

In The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the detective Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr. John Watson try to determine the identity of a jewel thief. At the beginning of the story, Holmes tells Watson that at 4 o' clock on Christmas Day, a man named Peterson was heading home when he saw a tall man get into an altercation with a few hooligans. The man ends up dropping his hat and a dead goose. As they sit in front of Holmes' fire, the detective and the doctor discuss ways to find the hat's owner.

Sherlock Holmes deduces that the man is an intellectual because the hat size is large. ''A man with so large a brain must have something in it.'' He also determines that the man has recently lost a fortune because, while his hat was expensive one three years ago, it's not in the best condition now. Holmes deduces that the man has recently had his hair cut and that he uses lime cream in his hair. He also thinks that the man's wife no longer loves him because his hat has not been brushed in a long time.

Horner & The Hat Man

While Holmes and Watson are chatting, Peterson rushes in and tells them that the goose, which his wife cooked, contained a blue carbuncle, a stolen gem, the theft of which was all over the news. A man named John Horner had been fingered for the theft. Horner has ''protested his innocence in the strongest terms'' but no one believes him. Holmes and Watson decide they need to find the mysterious man who was holding the dead goose in order to get to the bottom of the theft. Holmes and Watson put ads in the newspaper stating that they have the man's hat and he can get it back by contacting them. When the hat owner shows up, it turns out that he knows nothing about the stolen gem, so Holmes and Watson decide to find out where the goose's journey started.

The Goose Salesman

Holmes and Watson end up talking to a grumpy goose salesman who's not too interested in answering questions about the goose. Holmes tricks the salesman into revealing the goose's origins by making a bet that the goose was raised in the country despite the salesman insisting that the goose was raised in the city. The salesman takes out his ledger to prove Holmes wrong and, after pointing out the origin of the goose, Holmes gladly hands over the man's winnings. As Holmes and Watson head off, they overhear a man who also sounds desperate to find the goose.

In The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson follow and confront a man named James Ryder, the man who accused John Horner of stealing the gem. Holmes takes Ryder back to the detective's lodgings where he reveals that Holmes and Watson have the gem and urges Ryder to fess up about what he knows.

Ryder comes completely clean, explaining that he framed John Horner because he knew that he had a criminal past and that it wouldn't take much to convince the police he was guilty. Coincidentally, as Ryder's sister is a goose farmer, he decided to jam the gem in a goose's throat in order to transport it without suspicion. However, Ryder ends up taking the wrong goose, which left the gem-jammed goose to be purchased by the man in the hat.

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