Jude the Obscure By Thomas Hardy Summary and Analysis Part 1: Chapter 5

Summary

During the next few years Jude tries to educate himself by reading Latin and some Greek with the use of a dictionary. This study takes place as he drives the bakery wagon for his aunt's expanding business, paying more attention to his reading than to where he is going or with whom he is supposed to do business. One day when he is sixteen he stops near the Brown House, kneels by the side of the road, and reads aloud a poem he has been reading in honor of the then setting sun and rising moon. This pagan impulse causes Jude to wonder if he as a future minister hasn't spent too much time on secular works. He then takes up the study of the New Testament in Greek and eventually theological works.

In order to make possible his future move to Christminster, Jude decides he must have a trade to support himself. He chooses ecclesiastical stonework because of his interest in medieval art and also because of the fact that his cousin Sue's father had been an ecclesiastical metalworker. Apprenticing himself in the nearby town of Alfredston, he begins to learn his trade. At the age of nineteen Jude is living in the town during the week and returning to Marygreen every Saturday evening.

Analysis

This is an instance of a transition chapter. Its purpose is to span the time from Jude's decision to go to Christminster to that point at which he has learned as much as he can on his own but is not quite ready financially. Some six or seven years pass, during which, as shown in summary, he studies constantly on his own and begins to learn a trade in order to support himself. There is only one brief scene, but it is presented descriptively rather than dramatically.

Jude's choice of occupation is one of many ironies in the novel. It is established in the very first chapter that even in a small village like Marygreen the old style of church is being replaced. His deliberate choice of ecclesiastical stonework in medieval Gothic style, therefore, will limit his opportunity to work, though of course he doesn't realize it. The fact that he chooses this craft partly because he likes medieval art and culture will be later, when his views change, one of the reasons for which he will give up working on churches.

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