The Mayor of Casterbridge By Thomas Hardy Summary and Analysis Chapter 10 - Henchard Buys Susan Back""

Summary

While Elizabeth-Jane is waiting for Henchard, Joshua Jopp, the applicant for the position of manager of the corn department, arrives as Henchard enters the room. Henchard informs him abruptly that the position is filled and dismisses him. Jopp leaves, "his mouth twitched with anger, and bitter disappointment . . . written in his face everywhere."

Elizabeth-Jane reveals herself as the daughter of his "relative," Susan, to Henchard, who is shocked. He understands when Elizabeth-Jane refers to her family name as "Newson" that Susan has not revealed the truth to her child. They go indoors and after a few questions concerning the newcomer's past life, Henchard writes a note to Susan and places five guineas in it. He is visibly moved by Elizabeth-Jane's appearance and instructs her to deliver the note personally. Elizabeth-Jane leaves, touched by Henchard's concern. Henchard suddenly suspects that the pair might be impostors, but quickly changes his mind when he reflects upon Elizabeth-Jane's demeanor.

Upon her return Elizabeth-Jane is required to describe to her mother in explicit detail the meeting with Henchard. Susan reads the note which instructs her to tell Elizabeth-Jane nothing and to meet him at eight o'clock that night at the Ring on the Budmouth road. She finds the five guineas enclosed, and though nothing was said of the money in the note, the amount would suggest that Henchard was buying her back again.

Analysis

The suspense of the last chapter is relieved by Henchard's kind treatment of Elizabeth-Jane. It is also significant to Susan that Henchard has enclosed five guineas in the note, the same amount which he received from Newson. He is, in effect, symbolically' buying her back.

However, two elements of suspense enter the story here. Note that Henchard has created a potential enemy by his abrupt treatment of Joshua Jopp. Also, frightened of the shame which could be heaped upon him if the truth were known, Henchard arranges a secret meeting with Susan that night in a lonely spot outside of town. This is the beginning of the secretiveness that will surround their reunion. As will be seen in the next chapter, the place of the meeting will significantly add to the mystery.

Henchard's tactfulness in asking about Susan's poverty is in character. Several times in the novel he shows great consideration for people who are in need.

Glossary

rouge-et-noir from the French: red and black.

Family Bible, Josephus, Whole Duty of Man three works considered indispensable in every respectable household. The Family Bible was a large Bible which usually contained a page in the front for recording marriages, births, deaths; Josephus Flavius (A.D. 37-100?), Jewish historian and statesman. His History of the Jewish War and other work shed much valuable light upon the occurrences of the Bible; Whole Duty of Man, 1658, of anonymous origin. A book of devotions.

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