The Return of the Native By Thomas Hardy Summary and Analysis Book 5: Chapter 1

ummary

For several weeks after his mother's death, Clym lies ill and sometimes irrational. He blames himself for her death and will not be consoled by Eustacia. Even Thomasin, for whom he once had a special affection, cannot comfort him. When Wildeve calls for his wife, Eustacia uses the opportunity to speak of her despair to her former lover, who advises her never to tell Clym that he was in the house when Mrs. Yeobright called.

Analysis

The chapter is used primarily as a summary one, in which Clym's grief of the past few weeks is epitomized. What he says to Eustacia and then Thomasin is the latest repetition of what he has said all along. His attitude toward himself here is reminiscent of the self-pity he shows, for example, at the beginning of chapter 3 in the last book. By that time his attitude of acceptance toward what has happened to him as the result of his eye trouble is beginning to wear thin. He almost taunts Eustacia about his reduced state of life. This is an unattractive, though humanly understandable, side of Clym in his affliction.

Clym's grief over his mother's death foreshadows the likelihood of great anger with Eustacia when he discovers she did not admit Mrs. Yeobright when she called on the memorable day. Even Eustacia repeats to Wildeve the proverb "Beware the fury of a patient man."

Certainly Clym's blaming himself for his mother's death is ironical: he doesn't know the conditions responsible for it; he is unaware; for example, that his mother did indeed call on him. Further, he doesn't realize that the remark repeated by Johnny Nunsuch, so crushing to him, was uttered by his mother in just such an extreme state of mind as he himself is now in.

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