Far from the Madding Crowd By Thomas Hardy Summary and Analysis Chapter 48

Summary

Bathsheba accepted Troy's absence with a mixture of surprise and relief. Sooner or later he would return, and she feared only the loss of the farm and the poverty which that would bring. To all else she was indifferent: "Perceiving clearly that her mistake had been a fatal one, she accepted her position, and waited coldly for the end."

The next Saturday, when she went to market, a man sought her out to say that Troy had drowned. Bathsheba fainted. Boldwood saw her and caught her as she fell. He questioned the man and learned that a coastguardsman had found Troy's clothes on the shore. Boldwood's eyes flashed excitedly as he carried Bathsheba to the King's Arms Inn, where he arranged for a woman to look after her. He then went out to get further particulars, but none were forthcoming. When he offered to drive Bathsheba home, she declined, preferring to drive herself. Word had already reached the farm, and Liddy met Bathsheba.

A newspaper paragraph told how a physician had driven by the cliff and had seen a swimmer being carried off by the current. He doubted that even a strong swimmer could escape. This and the finding of Troy's clothing seemed to corroborate that Troy was dead. But when Liddy mentioned the need for mourning clothes, Bathsheba declined to wear them. She was convinced that Troy was still alive.

Late at night "Bathsheba took Troy's watch into her hand. . . . She opened the case as he had opened it before her a week ago. There was the little coil of pale hair that had been as the fuse to this great explosion.

"'He was hers and she was his; they should be gone together,' she said. 'I am nothing to either of them, and why should I keep her hair?'" She held it to the fire but then pulled it back. "'No — I'll not burn it — I'll keep it in memory of her, poor thing!' she added."

Analysis

Circumstantial evidence satisfies most people that Troy is dead, but something will not permit Bathsheba to accept their conclusions. She appears able to withstand all that has happened and continues to go about her duties, albeit somewhat mechanically. The fact that her sympathy for Fanny outweighs her resentment testifies that she has retained at least some emotional equilibrium.

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After Troy and Bathsheba marry, what becomes of Fanny?




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