Summary and Analysis
Book II: Chapters 14-15
Adams arrives at the house of Parson Trulliber, who is more of a farmer than a clergyman, for his wife runs the dairy while he sees to the pigs, whom he resembles in size and nature. Trulliber thinks that Adams has come to buy some of his hogs, and receives him with such enthusiasm that the unfortunate Adams finds himself propelled into the pig sty to make a closer acquaintance with his prospective purchases. Thoroughly confused, Adams takes hold of a pig's tail; the pig leaps up and throws Adams down in the mire. "Nihil habeo cum porcis," cries Adams, and Trulliber, amused by the incident, says that his wife is to blame for the misunderstanding. Once inside and cleaned up a bit, Adams reveals who he is and what he needs: money, a subject which exposes Trulliber's hypocrisy. Adams is no clergyman, but a vagabond, he roars, and, at the same time, berates his poor wife. When Adams calmly tells Trulliber that he is no Christian because he does not actively practice charity, Trulliber doubles up his fists. Adams is not provoked, however, and leaves with the remark that he is sorry to see such men in religious orders.
The parson returns penniless to Joseph and Fanny, but the hostess surprises them all by allowing them credit and wishing them a good journey. Her generosity, however, is not genuine she has misunderstood Joseph and believes Adams to be the natural brother of Trulliber, not merely his "brother in divinity." As they are about to leave, Adams remembers that he left his greatcoat and hat at Trulliber's house and, to Adams' relief the hostess offers to fetch these for him. It is an unfortunate favor Trulliber denounces Adams to the hostess in no uncertain terms and, on her return, she demands her money. To Adams' distress a journey round the parish yields nothing, but chance enters our story: A fellow traveler in the inn who has overheard the hostess' hard remarks takes Adams aside and asks him how much is owed. A loan is made and Adams, Fanny, and Joseph are saved by the goodness of a poor peddler. After telling the peddler where to call to be repaid the travelers leave their sour faced hostess and the sour soul parish.
The subject of these two chapters is true charity Trulliber is a boor, the worst of the six incompetent parsons we meet in Joseph Andrews. His concerns are very much with this world he has no feeling for his guest either as a man or as a fellow parson he bullies his wife unmercifully, and worst of all he is entirely ignorant of the meaning of charity: "I know what charity is, better than to give to vagabonds." He rages to Adams about his appearance, commenting sarcastically upon his shabby cassock and his lack of a horse; for him the "dignity of the cloth" has a literal meaning only. The nature of his hypocrisy links him to that other odious parson, Barnabas. Both men ignore the importance of good works; Trulliber, indeed, does nothing to help Adams, and his own attitude is echoed throughout his parish. One is reminded here of Adams' criticism of George Whitefield's "detestable doctrine of faith against good works" in Book I, Chapter 17. The hostess is dominated by the worldly patronage of Trulliber, and her hypocrisy has the stamp of her master; her comment that people should not pretend to be what they are not is as ironic as Trulliber's claim to know what charity is. It is only the poor peddler who knows the true nature of charity. As with the postillion who offers his greatcoat to the battered Joseph (Book I, Chapter 12), society has not been kind to this truly compassionate man.
The handling of Adams' confrontation with Trulliber shows Fielding's artistry at his best. There is, first of all, the warm humor of Adams' naiveté and unfortunate tumble into the mire, but this, like the hog's blood, will wash off him as all experience seems to do. The innocence of Adams is beautifully compounded into a classic reversal as Trulliber realizes that — far from being paid money — he is being asked for it. Fielding enters the narrative with half a dozen imagined examples of reversal to heighten this superbly dramatic moment. The playwright's eye is everywhere apparent — in the way in which Adams misunderstands the enraged and disillusioned Trulliber, in the sharp exchange of dialogue which follows this, and in such small gems as the wife dropping to her knees and begging Adams not to rob them!
Indeed, Fielding's use of Trulliber's wife consistently lends an extra dimension to the conflict between Trulliber and Adams. The farcical tone is there too, both in the opening description of Trulliber and in the way Fielding unashamedly enters the narrative to manipulate events to a farcical conclusion.