Jude The Obscure: Part 5, Chapter 6 - Summary & Analysis

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Part 5: Chapter VI

      Synopsis: People suspect something wrong in their relationship - women of the locality start ignoring Sue thinking of shifting to a new place - gets the job of relettering of Ten Commandments in a nearby church - Sue goes there to help - has to give up the job for adverse public opinion - final decision to leave - heavy unnecessary goods auctioned - to go to a place where nobody knows them.

      Sue and Jude's relationship arouses suspicion and the reaction. Meanwhile after the postponement of their marriage people of their locality became suspicious about Sue and Jude's exact relationship. The sudden arrival of the child who called them mother and father made the situation worse. People also heard about their cases in the law-courts. Rumours were afloat and Father time's classmates began to ask him unnecessary questions. In the meantime Jude and Sue were away to London for a few days and after coming back they pretended to be married there and Sue adopted the name of Mrs. Fawley. Still people could smell something mysterious in their life. As a result the women of the locality began to avoid her on the streets and the baker's lad and the grocers boy topped saluting them any more. Even the orders for head-stone and epitaph fell off. So Jude finally thought of leaving the place to seek new pastures and talked about it to Sue. She readily agreed, but her only request was that the child must not be taken away from her. She was determined to lift the cloud upon his young mind and make him a normal child some day.

      A knock at the door-offer of a new job. When Jude and Sue were discussing about their future there was a knock at the door. In came a man from Biles and Willis the building contractors and offered him a job for relettering of the Ten Commandments in a nearby village church. Jude accepted the offer, postponing their departure from Aldbrickham for the present. Sue decided to help him. Next day Jude went to the church and began the job. And next morning Sue came to help him. She was first to paint in the letters of the tables of the Jewish law. They worked on quite happily in the quiet surroundings. But soon came a woman, the churchcleaner, who recognized Sue, as she knew people in Sue's locality. She also knew about people's suspicions about their relationship. She talked about her to two other women who came there. They reported the matter to the church warden who in his turn referred the matter to the contractor. And just after their lunch the contractor Willis appeared on the scene, paid Jude for the week and requested them to leave just to avoid all unpleasantness, Soon after this, Jude was more or less compelled to resign his membership of the committee of the Artizans' Mutual Improvement Society.

      Final decision to leave-goods auctioned. After all those unhappy encounter and unpleasant incidents Jude and Sue made up their minds to leave Aldbrickham at the earliest. It was not possible for them to carry their old aunt's heavy furniture, so Jude had to decide on an auction. The day of the sale came on. One by one all the articles were auctioned including two pairs of pigeons, Sue's pets. Strangely enough highly prized articles were knocked cheaply whereas unconsidered ones were sold at an unexpected price. That very day they were to move to another quarter. Jude and Father Time left earlier and Sue followed them after the auction was over. On her way she found her pigeons in a large basket by the door of the poultry shop. Acting on an impulse she opened the cover to enable the pigeons to fly away. When she confessed it to Jude, he decided to return the money next day if required. Then they decided to go to any place except Alfredston, Melchester, Shaston and Christminster.

Critical Analysis
      Paying heavy price for their non-conformity. This chapter tells us what a heavy price Jude and Sue have to pay for their non-conformity to existing norms and customs and for their unorthodox and independent thinking. Public opinion is bound to go against such people as general public never tolerates non-conformity and tries to retaliate in its own way. Its greatest weapon is social boycott and Jude and Sue have to face it. The incidents in this chapter show that it is very dangerous for an individual to be ahead of his time in thought and action. Society will crush such a person mercilessly to preserve its norms and order. Probably that is why the author has not directly blamed the society. But the unlucky pair definitely draw our sympathy, specially when Jude in response to a query from little Father Time says that they are suffering because "We have done that which was right in our eyes."

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