Summary and Analysis Part II: Chapter 14



It is the Christmas season 1891 at the Holmes building. Julia tells Holmes she is pregnant. He agrees to marry her under one stipulation: She must let him give her an abortion. She agrees, and the abortion is set to take place on Christmas Eve. Before meeting Holmes to undergo the abortion procedure, Julia visits a couple, the Crowes, who are renting an apartment in the building. Julia tells Mrs. Crowe she is anticipating leaving for Iowa soon for her sister's wedding. Julia and the Crowe couple decorate a tree as a surprise for Julia's daughter, Pearl, before Julia leaves to get her abortion.

Julia then meets Holmes in one of the rooms in the house with the operating table set up and ready to go. Holmes gives Julia chloroform to make her unconscious. He then travels to Pearl's room and uses the chloroform on her. The next day, the Crowes wait for as long as they can before leaving for their Christmas plans, but Julia and Pearl never show up. Mrs. Crowe inquires about Julia to Holmes. He says she and Pearl left for Iowa.

Instead of burning Julia in the kiln, Holmes calls on one of his friends who knows how to strip a body of flesh and asks Mr. Chappell, his friend, to help him with a body he has been using for research. Holmes pays Chappell to strip the body and send back the skeleton to Holmes. Holmes knows that medical schools need skeletons and that they don't investigate where their suppliers get them. He sells Julia's body to a medical school in Chicago.


This chapter is significant for two reasons. For one, this is the first time the reader actually sees Holmes involved in killing someone. In this sense, Larson opens the window on Holmes's mind gradually as the novel progresses.

Chapter 14 plays on the idea that Chicago doesn't waste anything, connecting this chapter with a statement at the end of Chapter 9. Certainly, the method in which Holmes disposes of Julia's body, using every part of her person for profit, is reminiscent of the earlier mentioned, "Chicago wasted nothing." The parallel between Chapters 9 and 14 only makes Holmes's character more cold and callous, like the imagery of the harsh Chicago winters in the novel.

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