Jude the Obscure By Thomas Hardy Summary and Analysis Part 6: Chapter 11

Summary

On Remembrance Day Arabella, impatient to be off to the festivities, leaves Jude asleep and alone. He awakens, asks for water, recognizes what holiday it is, and repeats some verses from Job. Later, Arabella breaks away long enough to look in on Jude, who she discovers is dead. She rejoins the holiday, eventually meeting Physician Vilbert. She does finally leave him to see about arrangements for Jude's funeral. Two days later, only Arabella and Mrs. Edlin stand by Jude's coffin; the sounds of the holiday come from outside. Mrs. Edlin doesn't know if Sue will come to the funeral but asserts that Sue has said she's found peace. Arabella says that Jude didn't want Sue sent for and did not forgive her and that Sue will never find peace until she is dead like Jude.

Analysis

In the city which is the symbol of his hopes Jude dies, and his death comes on Remembrance Day, which is particularly meaningful to him. His last words are some verses from Job, that symbol that has been used frequently in the novel: "Let the day perish wherein I was born…." Jude has earlier wondered if his own son wouldn't one day repeat these very verses.

There is, of course, irony everywhere in these closing scenes. Certainly there is in the fact that Jude should die in Christminster. Certainly too, there is in the fact that Arabella should have the last word in the novel. About Sue she says, "She's never found peace since she left his arms, and never will again till she's as he is now!" In a way, only Arabella of the four principal characters survives. Jude is dead; Sue is doing penance for what she thinks of as her sins and, according to Mrs. Edlin, has aged greatly; Phillotson, devoid of hope, is back at Marygreen where he began, living with a wife whom he requires to swear loyalty to him on a New Testament.

Ironically too, Arabella has been the least ambitious of all the main characters. The others have been caught up in the spirit of the times and for reasons that seem inexplicable and out of their control have been defeated in their attempts to realize their aspirations.

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