The Adventure of the Yellow Face Characters

Instructor: Jennifer Carnevale

Jennifer has a dual master's in English literature/teaching and is currently a high school English teacher. She teaches college classes on the side.

It's easy to create a justification for a mystery in our minds that can cause us to believe things that aren't true. In this lesson, we will learn about the characters in the short story, 'The Adventure of the Yellow Face' by Arthur Conan Doyle, and see how a man deals with the curious behaviors of his wife.

Introduction and Summary

In the short story, 'The Adventure of the Yellow Face' by Arthur Conan Doyle, a man is convinced that his wife is up to no good. While the evidence does show suspicious activity, such as asking for money and lying about her whereabouts, the ending proves that no transgressions were committed. The reader is left to learn a shameful secret from the past that ends up being not so shameful after all.

Read on to learn about the characters in this tale and the part they play in learning the not so shameful secret of the yellow face.

Cheat Sheet

  • Sherlock Holmes: Detective and main character of the story.
  • Dr. Watson: The narrator of the story; friend and business associate of Holmes.
  • Grant 'Jack' Munro: Married to Effie; client seeking Holmes's help.
  • Effie Munro: Munro's husband; suspicious behavior that causes Munro to seek Holmes's help.
  • John Herbon: Deceased; Effie's first husband.
  • Lucy: Effie and John's daughter.
  • Servant: Caretaker; Works in the house where Lucy is hidden.

Characters in Context

Now that we have a basic idea of who everyone is, let's take a look at the characters' roles in the context of the story.

The Detectives

Sherlock Holmes is a detective in England that is known for his keen intellect and mastery of observation. He is friends and flatmates with the narrator of this tale, Dr Watson. Both men work together to figure out the secret Effie is keeping from Munro.

The Client and the Accused

At the beginning of the story, Mr. Grant 'Jack' Munro is desperately seeking out Holmes to solve the mystery behind his wife Effie's secretive behavior. Munro is a tall, well-dressed man who has never had a reason to distrust his wife until now.

Munro waits impatiently for Holmes to return home, desperately seeking advice regarding his wife Effie.
Image of Munro talking to Holmes

Effie was previously married to a man named John Herbon. They lived together in Atlanta, Georgia, where John practiced law. Effie and John had a child together, but due to yellow fever, both John and the child passed away.

Effie begins to show curious behaviors, such as asking for money and sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night, refusing to explain why when questioned by Munro. These behaviors push Munro to seek help from Holmes.

The Secret

One day, Munro is out for a walk and notices that he has new neighbors. He tries to introduce himself to the occupants but is shewed away. Munro keeps seeing a face in a window upstairs. He describes the face as odd, discolored and inhuman. We find out at the end of the story that the face belongs to Lucy, Effie and John's daughter that Munro believed to be dead.

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