Summary and Analysis
Book II: Chapters 12-13
A storm forces Adams and Fanny to take shelter in an ale-house and, while Adams tests the brew, Fielding gives the reader a portrait of Fanny. She is exquisite, and even her few minor blemishes do not mar the overall effect of her beauty; her most important feature, however, is her "natural gentility." Returning to the narrative, Fielding inserts several verses of a long ballad about unrequited love, sung by a sweet-voiced young man in another part of the alehouse. We guess who he is when Fanny faints at the close of the song. Adams leaps up, dropping his beloved copy of Aeschylus into the fire as he roars for help. At this, the unseen "nightingale" appears and proves to be none other than Joseph Andrews, who immediately sets about reviving Fanny with kisses. Adams skips for joy, the modest Fanny is embarrassed, and the jealous Mrs. Slipslop exits in a haughty sweep, completely ignoring Fanny's curtsy to her. This is a deliberate snub, and to explain Slipslop's behavior, Fielding explains his theory about the two classes into which people are divided — the high and the low. These are composed of the fashionable and the unfashionable, the latter pursuing and aping the former all the way up the social ladder, while the former disdain their "inferiors." Adams, who is ignorant of these intricacies of the social mechanism, follows Slipslop and tries to jog her memory about Fanny, whom Slipslop now deigns to barely re-member. While Adams praises Fanny's chastity, Slipslop, in her jealous pique, upbraids him for his violence in rescuing Fanny and casts aspersions on Fanny's character. Outside, the storm is now over, but to Slipslop's chagrin, Joseph refuses to travel on without Fanny; for the second time that evening, a rape has been prevented!
While Adams dozes by the fire, Joseph and Fanny declare their love for each other. Enraptured, Joseph wakes Adams to ask him to marry them. Adams refuses, stressing the importance of publishing the banns; Joseph must contain himself a little longer.
The three of them prepare to set off, as it is now daylight, but the reckoning of seven shillings (because of Adams' thirst) causes a slight delay. Adams is suddenly struck by an idea and asks the hostess if there is a clergyman in the parish. Finding that there is, Adams joyfully leaves Fanny and Joseph, telling them that he has a "brother" in the parish who will pay the bill, and that he will return shortly with the money.
It is clearly Fanny's inner worth that Fielding considers most important, and she responds to the warm-blooded Joseph (whose song is full of sexual innuendoes) with just the proper degree of shyness and modesty. Their reunion brings out the truly charitable nature of Adams, his joy at the happiness of others. In contrast to this, we have the affected snobbishness of Slipslop, whose jealous disdain of Fanny prefigures Lady Booby's behavior in Book IV. This imitation of "fashion" throughout the social scale provides Fielding with material for his lengthy digression; if the gods made men only to laugh at them, Fielding says, there is no other human characteristic which serves the purpose so well. Meanwhile, we chuckle kindly at Adams' insistence on the proper rites and forms for the wedding of Joseph and Fanny; also, as the chapter closes, we have the feeling that the parson's naiveté over money matters is about to get him into trouble once again.