Jude the Obscure By Thomas Hardy Summary and Analysis Part 2: Chapter 4

Summary

Once more Jude has the opportunity to reveal himself to Sue but does not, still troubled by the legitimacy of his interest in her. He wants to pray to be delivered from temptation, but his every desire is precisely to be so tempted. Finally, it occurs that Sue looks him up at work, he is not there at the time, she sends him a note, he replies immediately when she says she may leave Christminster that he will meet her the same evening, and they do meet. Phillotson is mentioned in conversation, and Jude discovers he is still but a schoolmaster in Lumsdon just outside the city.

Jude and Sue walk out to call on Phillotson, and at first he does not remember Jude. Jude tells the older man that he is determined to follow his example, but Phillotson has given up his aspirations now except for the possibility of entering the church as a licentiate. Later as they walk back to the city, Sue explains why she plans to leave Christminster: her employer has seen her pagan statues and they have quarreled. Jude suggests she return to teaching, since Phillotson has said he needs help. Sue is interested, Jude convinces Phillotson to hire her if she is really interested, and Sue accepts the job.

Analysis

The scene in which Jude and Sue meet is used as a sharp contrast with that in which he and Arabella met. Sue does not scheme to meet him, she does not flirt with him, and during the whole time there is no element of sexual tension at all. As Jude himself sees, Sue acts more like a friend toward him than a woman. His feelings for her are more those of love than desire. Unlike Arabella, Sue is sensitive to place, does not want to meet on a "gloomy and inauspicious" spot. Arabella did not mind at all where they met, getting up from her work with the pigs' chitterlings to go to the plank bridge.

From the very beginning Jude is in no doubt about what Arabella represents to him. With Sue it is a different matter. From a distance she is a saint; when they meet he loves her more than ever, eventually, however, he will desire her too. Arabella represents no puzzle, but Sue will be an exasperating mystery to him for the rest of his life.

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