Summary and Analysis Chapter 41



Troy asked Bathsheba for money but would not say why he needed it. Bathsheba commented that his mysterious manner worried her. Troy responded: "Such strait-waistcoating as you treat me to is not becoming in you at so early a date." He warned her not to pry too far. Bathsheba said she felt that their romance was already at an end. Troy said, "All romances end at marriage." After more bickering, she gave him twenty pounds from her household money. He opened the back of his watch, and she saw a small coil of yellow hair. Troy admitted that it belonged to a young girl he had once planned to marry.

Bathsheba was jealous, but Troy remained unmoved, saying prophetically, "I can't help how things fall out . . . upon my heart, women will be the death of me!" He left Bathsheba to her chagrin. "She had never taken kindly to the idea of marriage . . . as did the majority of women. . . . In the turmoil of her anxiety for her lover she had agreed to marry him; but the perception that had accompanied her happiest hours . . . was rather that of self-sacrifice than of promotion and honour."

Next morning, Bathsheba rode out to inspect the farm. When she returned for breakfast, she learned that Troy had gone to Casterbridge. She left on another tour of inspection, "finding herself preceded in forethought by Gabriel Oak, for whom she began to entertain the genuine friendship of a sister." She saw him across the fields, and saw also that Boldwood was approaching him. The two men talked earnestly, then called to Poorgrass and spoke with him. Later Poorgrass came toward her and "set down his barrow, and putting upon himself the refined aspect that a conversation with a lady required, spoke. . . . 'You'll never see Fanny Robin no more. . . . because she's dead in the Union."'

Poorgrass speculated that the cause of death was a general weakness of constitution: "She . . . could stand no hardship, even when I knowed her, and 'a went like a candle-snoff, so 'tis said. . . . Mr. Boldwood is going to send a waggon at three this afternoon to fetch her home here and bury her.'

"'Indeed I shall not let Mr. Boldwood do any such thing — I shall do it! Fanny was my uncle's servant . . . she belongs to me.'" Bathsheba arranged for a wagon to be filled with evergreens and flowers to cover the coffin.

Later, Bathsheba questioned Liddy about Fanny. Fanny's hair had been golden. Troy had said he knew the soldier who was Fanny's friend "as well as he knew himself." They had served in the same regiment, and "there wasn't a man in the regiment he liked better."


This involved chapter has many undercurrents. Along with Bathsheba, we try to ascertain the facts. Boldwood, Oak, and Poorgrass are preoccupied and reluctant to talk with Bathsheba. They evade her questions. Liddy rambles on, suggesting things that Bathsheba is not yet willing to face, and so Bathsheba angrily silences her.