Summary and Analysis
Part 1: Chapters 6-8
One weekend as he walks home from Alfredston, Jude makes an accounting of what he has accomplished to the age of nineteen. He believes he has some fluency in Latin and Greek, both Homeric and Biblical; he has studied some mathematics, theology, and history. What he does not yet know he will learn at Christminster, where books and instruction await him. As soon as he saves more money he will be off. He dreams of getting his
D.D. and becoming a bishop or perhaps an archdeacon. He is brought back to reality by being hit on the ear by something, and he realizes that on the other side of the hedge is a pig farm and he hears girls' voices. After a bantering conversation as to who threw the pig's offal at him, Jude asks one of the three girls if she wants to meet him. They do meet on a plank bridge across the stream alongside which the girls have been working; the girl is Arabella Donn. Jude finds her attractive, aware of girls as such for the first time. Arabella easily maneuvers Jude into calling on her the next day, a Sunday. When he walks off again, his single-minded concentration on getting to Christminster fades before the onrush of new emotions.
On Sunday afternoon, which he has set aside to read in his new Greek Testament, Jude easily convinces himself to keep his date with Arabella. In going for a walk they pass the Brown House, from which eminence Jude has often looked out at Christminster. Walking farther than intended, they stop at an inn for tea, sitting in a room on the wall of which is a picture of Samson and Delilah. Unable to get tea, they settle for beer, and Jude is surprised at Arabella's knowledge of its ingredients. They then walk to Arabella's house in the dark, several times stopping to kiss, Jude finally holding her close as they walk. As he walks home later, Jude is impatient of the fact that he must wait a whole week to see her again. Next day, Arabella declares to her two girl friends she wants to marry Jude, and they tease her because she says she doesn't know how to make sure she gets him. One of them whispers to her, and she obviously has told Arabella to let Jude get her pregnant.
Passing the Donn farm one weekend on his way home from Alfredston. Jude encounters Arabella chasing some newly acquired pigs which have got out of the sty. Giving up the chase of the last one, they lie down on a hilltop, and when Arabella can't get Jude to caress her as she wishes she pretends to be affronted and goes off home. When the next day, Sunday, Arabella hears talk of Jude's going to Christminster, she decides to get him to make love to her, in short, to carry out the plan suggested by her girl friends. She arranges to get her parents out of the house that evening, and when she and Jude are alone in the house she teases him with a cochin's egg she is carrying in her bosom to hatch, an old custom, she says. Exciting Jude by removing it and replacing it several times, Arabella gets him to pursue her. She disappears upstairs and Jude follows her. Obviously they make love.
Now that Jude thinks he is about ready for Christminster, it is dramatically as well as thematically the time to introduce the first of a series of conflicts that by the end of the novel changes his life and his hopes radically. It is appropriate that the first should be occasioned by a woman.
At the beginning of the scene in Chapter 6 Jude is walking home from work, mentally adding up his accomplishments of the past few years, estimating how close he is to Christminster and what rewards it will bring. At the end of the scene he realizes he is putting aside his ambitions but can think only of the "fresh and wild pleasure" which Arabella promises. In between he is introduced to sex. Hardy makes it clear that Arabella is attractive but not unusually beautiful, that she deliberately attracts his attention, and that when they meet she flirts with him. In short, she does what any other girl might do. Her effect on Jude comes from an awakening in him over which, it is said, he has no control.
This coming to awareness of sex conflicts, of course, with the aspirations Christminster represents; but it is also the introduction into his life of a desire or need which he will try always to satisfy, with consequent effects on other areas of his life.
The use of the minor symbol of Samson and Delilah, appearing in this section first and then several times later in the novel, is appropriate to the idea Hardy is trying to convey by introducing Arabella into Jude's life. Here the symbol appears in the form of a picture on the wall of an inn; elsewhere, it appears in other forms, for instance, in a description of Jude as Arabella looks at him.