Summary and Analysis
Two and a half years pass, and Jude and Sue are living at Kennetbridge, not far from Marygreen, Jude having worked in many places over the years and still unchanged in his refusal to work on churches. During the time of the spring fair, Arabella comes with her friend Anny for the dedication of a new chapel and encounters Sue, who is selling cakes and gingerbreads at a stall. Arabella tells Sue her husband is dead and questions her about her life. She says that she is married, that she has two children (she is pregnant with a third), that Jude has lost his pride, is ill, and bakes cakes because he can do the work indoors. The fact that the cakes are in shapes reminiscent of buildings at Christminster causes both women to agree that Jude still thinks of the city as his ideal. Arabella tells Sue that since her husband's death she has found religion, and she has come from Alfredston, where she lives with her friend, for the dedication.
On her way home from Kennetbridge Arabella tells her friend Anny that she wishes she had Jude back, that he is more hers than Sue's, and that she won't be a hypocrite any longer about religion. Along the way, they meet Phillotson, now teaching at Marygreen again, and Arabella identifies herself, this being the first time they have met since Arabella was his pupil. Telling him where Sue now is, Arabella criticizes Phillotson for letting her go, pointing out that Sue was never intimate with Jude before the divorce. She lectures him on how he should treat a wife.
In Kennetbridge, when Sue returns to their lodgings, she tells Jude she has sold all the cakes and has seen Arabella. Jude takes Arabella's living near as a good enough reason for moving on and to Sue's surprise says he wants to return to Christminster, which he loves even though he knows it despises men like him. Accordingly, in a few weeks they go.
Jude and Sue are reduced to living off the sale of the cakes and gingerbreads Jude bakes. The fact that they are made in the shapes of buildings at Christminster not only reveals that it is a "fixed vision" with him, as Sue says, but foreshadows his return there. Having aimlessly gone from one town to another for several years in pursuit of work, Jude will finally return to the place of his youthful dream as if to die there.
Arabella's meeting with Phillotson, coincidental though it may be, makes the final connection among the main characters, since they are the only two who have never met in recent years. Here and later, she reports to Phillotson on the state of the relationship between Sue and Jude; her motives are, of course, selfish.