A year later at Aldbrickham, Jude and Sue are still living as they were. With Phillotson's divorce from Sue now final, they both are free, Jude's divorce from Arabella having become final some time before. When Jude brings up the subject of their marrying, Sue says she would rather they go on as lovers and avoid the oppressive effects of marriage, though Jude objects that most people marry as a matter of course. Again, he complains of her lack of "animal passion" and her seeming inability to love him, but she still wants to dictate the terms of their relationship and Jude acquiesces. With some assistance from Sue, Jude is doing work on headstones, "a lower class of handicraft" than his cathedral work previously.
In addition to using frequently a series of short scenes to develop his narrative, Hardy sometimes falls into awkwardness when it is necessary to indicate a passage of time. This chapter begins: "How Gillingham's doubts were disposed of will most quickly appear by passing over the series of dreary months and incidents that followed the events of the last chapter, and coming on to a Sunday in the February of the year following." It is hardly a felicitous transition. In fact, this sentence might well be omitted, and the chapter open with the paragraph that follows.
In the conversation which occurs in this chapter, which presents briefly the state of the relationship established between Jude and Sue since they have been living together, Sue complains that Jude is "too sermony" in the way he speaks. The same might be said about other conversation in the novel. At times Jude and Sue especially seem to make speeches to each other rather than converse.