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

Summary

At the agricultural show at Stoke-Barehills Arabella, arriving with her husband, sees Jude, Sue, and the boy and follows after them, commenting on them to Cartlett. Leaving him to go his own way, Arabella encounters a girl friend and then Physician Vilbert. They follow Jude and Sue to the art department, where the couple view a model of one of the Christminster colleges they have made. Arabella jokingly buys a "love-philtre" from Vilbert and then goes off to join her husband. Meanwhile at the pavilion of flowers Sue ecstatically admires the roses, and she and Jude agree they are happy, though conscious of the gloomy face of Little Father Time beside them.

Analysis

The scenes at the agricultural show are used primarily to show Jude and Sue as seen through Arabella's eyes. Arabella is never far away from them and never gives up her desire to get Jude back; though she married Cartlett, it was only a way of providing for herself at the time. She is shrewd enough to see what others do not, and Jude and Sue themselves are unable to: "I am inclined to think that she don't care for him quite so much as he does for her." Of course, this observation is colored by the fact that she wants to believe that she can get Jude back; nevertheless, what she sees is true.

The way in which Little Father Time is used as a symbol is shown at the end of this chapter. Sue has been admiring some roses, and she and Jude have agreed that they are happy. They are, however, concerned about the fact that the child is not enjoying himself. The boy understands this and says, "I should like the flowers very much, if I didn't keep on thinking they'd be all withered in a few days." It is impossible to believe that a child his age would say this. And it demonstrates why this particular symbol fails. It is too obvious, and the child is made to represent more significance than he is naturally capable of doing. A symbol like that of Christminster, on the other hand, does not suffer from these shortcomings.

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