The final aspects of the two stories that I will compare are the endings. When comparing the endings of the two stories, one can see how the two are very different, but still reflect the eras. When Holmes solves the case and completes his triumph over Grimesby-Roylott, it is a complete and satisfactory ending to the story. He manages to independently solve the case, and with it killing the Doctor. (The Doctor was sending a poisonous snake through a vent into the room where his victim sleeps.
The snake climbed down a rope and bit the person and then returned upon the call of a whistle. The detective however, deduced this and scared the snake, provoking it to return and kill the Doctor.) The Victorian people would only be satisfied by a total victory, as this would be expected from such a superior character.
In contrast, Reseck experiences a ‘Phyricc Victory’. This means that although he was successful, his brother Al died in the process.
The ending is very emotional, especially when Tony Reseck receives a telephone call telling him that Johnny Ralls (the man who Tony let go, against his brother’s advice) has murdered his brother Al. He is sad not only because his brother is dead, but also because he feels culpable for his death. The man who is telling Reseck this is very short with him, almost speaking in bullet point form: “Al had a hunch you’d run him out. Tailed him and took him to the kerb.
Not so good. Backfire.” This lack of emotion in the messengers voice indicates the number of shootings that he may have experienced in a crime-filled time: The metallic voice sounded impatient, a little bored.
Tony does not take the news well, first experiencing great, subdued, sadness, then denial. When he picked up the phone, unaware of the messenger’s news, he is described as “cuddling the receiver close to his chest.” However, as he found out about Al’s death, the description changed to: Tony held the phone very tight and his temples chilled with the evaporation of moisture. His emotions are displayed in very subtle ways, he does not shout or cry, his true sentiments are displayed in more delicate ways. This hints at the introversion of the times. Another method that Chandler employs to display Reseck’s feelings is through the use of verbs and adverbs: ‘lurched,’ ‘dryly’, ‘quietly,’ ‘closed his eyes.’ Apart from this, and the handling of the phone, Chandler states that Reseck’s “mouth made a sound that was not speech,” another subtle clue to his true feelings. As mentioned above, the sadness turns to denial:
Tony put the phone down…very carefully, so as not to make any sound. He was hoping that he could overlook the feelings of depression and guilt that he would inevitably sense by pretending that nothing had happened. Finally, Reseck seems to begin to accept his brother’s death in the best way he can: He reached the chair he had sat in before and lowered himself into it inch by inch. The fact that Tony sits in the chair that he sat in at the start of the story, indicates a theme of circularity, life goes on. This can be extended to the elk’s tooth; he is holding it in his hand at the beginning and the end. This serene attitude towards his surroundings, family and general life reflects the era superbly. This sad end shows the times, where people were accustomed to failure, and a triumphant victory was never expected nor well received.
In conclusion, both stories reflect the eras in which they were written. One is set in prosperous Victorian England, where the spirits of the people were high. This is reflected in the story, with triumphant characters, most notably Holmes. He is confidant bordering on arrogant. Many people of that time could relate to his feelings of distain at those inferior to him. The language he uses, as well as the setting in which he is depicted, show this superiority.
On the contrary, Reseck works in a seedy location where the people he meets are depressed. He is an introvert loner, who works in a hotel in the downtown area of a large city. The 1930’s people could relate to that, as they were in the same situation, yet could be inspired by his successful work. He reflects a downcast and disheartened society going through a very unhappy time. Doyle’s tale has a dynamic story line, whereas Chandler’s lacks energy. This is another subtle way in which Chandler reflects the monotonous era he depicts. In summary, both stories reflect the respective eras in which they were written, using both subtle and obvious methods.