The Mayor of Casterbridge By Thomas Hardy Summary and Analysis Chapter 9 - Farfrae Takes the Job

Summary

The next morning, Donald Farfrae meets Henchard and together they walk to the end of town. Elizabeth-Jane sees the two men walking away and is sad and hurt at Donald's departure — he has seen her but has neither spoken nor smiled. Susan, bolstered by Henchard's quickness to like a complete stranger, his loneliness, and his avowed shame for his past behavior, sends Elizabeth-Jane to him with a note. Elizabeth-Jane is told to introduce herself and inform Henchard that a distant relative of his — her mother, the widow of a sailor — has arrived in Casterbridge. Elizabeth-Jane is instructed to bring back word when Henchard will meet with Susan. If Henchard refuses to see her, Susan and Elizabeth-Jane will leave town immediately.

As she walks to Henchard's place of business, Elizabeth-Jane is introduced to the bustling life of early morning Casterbridge. When she finally enters Henchard's business office she is shocked speechless to see Donald Farfrae at work. Donald does not seem to recognize her and tells her that Mr. Henchard is busy but will be with her soon. We learn from a brief flashback that Farfrae has accepted Henchard's last minute, urgent plea to stay and name his own price.

Analysis

A number of relevant incidents occur in this chapter. By sending Elizabeth-Jane to Henchard, Susan begins a restoration of her former relationship with Henchard. Elizabeth-Jane, in order to get to Henchard's place of business, must take a short walk through the town. Thus the reader is given a tour of the quaint surroundings and bustling commercial life of the town, and remains aware that Henchard is at the top of the seemingly endless business activity. Finally, Farfrae is persuaded to stay, and the hint of a relationship between him and Elizabeth-Jane is given.

Suspense is also created when the author deftly interposes the walk through the town to mask the discussion between Henchard and Farfrae and delay the actual meeting between Henchard and Elizabeth-Jane.

Hardy is almost lyrical in his appreciation of Casterbridge on market-day, when its closeness to the country is most pronounced, "differing from the many manufacturing towns which are as foreign bodies set down . . . in a green world with which they have nothing in common."

Glossary

kerb curb.

chassez-déchassez chassé, a quick set of gliding, sideward movements in dancing, always led by the same foot; from the French chasser. Hence, chassez-déchassez, a French dance from right to left.

terpsichorean figure Terpsichore, Greek Muse of the dance; figures in dance positions.

netting fish-seines making fishing nets; also, fixing or repairing the nets.

amaze amazement.

Flemish ladders ladders whose sides become narrower toward the top.

staddles a raised frame, or a platform used for stacking hay or straw to avoid contamination from moisture or vermin.

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