Jude the Obscure By Thomas Hardy Summary and Analysis Part 5: Chapter 6

Summary

To stop the talk about them, Jude and Sue go off to London for a few days as if to marry, but the talk continues and Jude thinks they should move to where they are unknown. Several incidents confirm this idea: Jude loses a job at a church when, because of Sue's presence there, he is recognized and the rumors about them are repeated; Little Father Time is taunted at school by other boys; Jude feels pressured to resign from the committee governing an artisans' improvement society he belongs to. Since they plan to live in lodgings instead of a house and also since they need money, Jude auctions off most of their household effects. They aren't sure where they'll go, but not to London, and since Jude is dissatisfied with church work he isn't sure what he'll do. Sue is upset by the sale of her pet pigeons, turns them loose later at the shop of the poulterer who bought them, and remarks bitterly, "0 why should Nature's law be mutual butchery!"

Analysis

Jude and Sue are shown to suffer one setback after another: people are uncivil to them; Little Father Time is harassed at school; Jude's work diminishes; he loses a job at a church when Sue is recognized; he resigns from the committee of a workmen's educational society he belongs to under unspoken pressure from other members. They decide to move to where they are not known, and since they must take lodgings instead of a house they auction their household goods. The implication is that all this is happening to them because of that malign power that operates to frustrate man's hopes. Or it may be that society retaliates against those who violate the rules it sets down. But the former is more strongly suggested.

As Sue says, it is "droll" and ironical that she and Jude should be working to restore the Ten Commandments in the church. Neither in belief nor in action do they subscribe to the meaning of these rules.

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