The Return of the Native By Thomas Hardy Summary and Analysis Book 5: Chapters 4-5

Summary

Knowing nowhere else to go, Eustacia returns to her grandfather's house. She is looked after by Charley, her admirer from the time before she was married. When she moodily contemplates the pistols in Captain Vye's room, he removes them, later replying to her questions that he cannot allow her to injure herself.

Summary

Knowing nowhere else to go, Eustacia returns to her grandfather's house. She is looked after by Charley, her admirer from the time before she was married. When she moodily contemplates the pistols in Captain Vye's room, he removes them, later replying to her questions that he cannot allow her to injure herself.

Charley tries to amuse her in the days that go by but with little success. Since she has wanted a bonfire on the Fifth of November the previous two years, though he hasn't known the real reason for it, he builds one for her. When aware of its being lit, Eustacia first doesn't want it, then lets it burn, though she realizes it may bring Wildeve. It does, and he sympathizes with her, finally offering to help her in any way he can. She wants to get to Budmouth and then to Paris but agrees only to let Wildeve know if she will allow him to help and/or go with her.

Analysis

From this point on in Book Fifth, the novel is, in a sense, all plot. The time for speaking is past. Eustacia's hovering around the pistols in Captain Vye's bedroom the day she returns there is an even stronger foreshadowing of her eventual suicide than we have seen before. The stronger the foreshadowing of an event in a novel, the nearer it is to taking place.

Charley's hiding the pistols in the stable is not likely to stop Eustacia from destroying herself. The conversation with Wildeve is in somewhat the same spirit: in effect, they speak to each other in the past tense, though they are talking about the immediate future. It is too late for Wildeve to offer anything. Though he is shown not to realize this, he is, after all, an opportunist from first to last in the story Eustacia does, though she goes through the motions of making plans with him.

The futility of her taking any action except what we have come to see as inevitable is shown in the fact that the story is back where it began, the Fifth of November. If anything, Eustacia has a worse opinion of herself than she did in the beginning: "her state was so hopeless that she could play with it." From this point on, she moves without animation, Hardy showing her to be in the grip of the Destiny she has often referred to.

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