Jude The Obscure: Part 5, Chapter 3 - Summary & Analysis

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Part 5: Chapter III

      Synopsis: Sue still afraid of marriage - both come back from the door of the parish clerk - Arabella's letter announcing the shocking news of a boy from their marriage - her parents would not keep him - the boy was sent the next day - boy looks much older than his age - both decide to bring him up - Sue to be a good mother to him.

      Sue still diffident about marriage. Just after coming back from Arabella both Jude and Sue started for the house of the parish clerk to take initial steps for their marriage. But Sue seemed to have her misgivings about marriage. She frankly told Jude that after hearing Arabella's remarks about marriage she felt "more than ever how hopelessly vulgar an institution legal marriage is - a sort of trap to catch a man - I can't bear to think of it". She had full confidence in him, so she was not so anxious to do it in a hurry. They reached the parish clerk's house. When Jude was just entering she called him back and asked him to think over the matter. She then asked Jude if he did not think it was destructive to a passion whose essence was its gratuitousness. After this both of them decided to go back and think it over. But for the next three weeks or so they could not come to any decision.

      Arabella's marriage and about her son from Jude. Just at this time they received a letter and a newspaper. From the paper they came to know that Arabella was at last legally married to her second husband. But the letter brought them very unexpected news. She wrote to Jude that when she left for Australia after deserting him she was already carrying Jude's child. And in Australia she had given birth to a male child who had so long been looked after by her parents. But they were now reluctant to keep him with them any more. He was too young to be of any use to them. So she was sending the boy to him at the earliest with the hope that he would look after him properly as he was the father. She added that she had gone to Aldbrickham to tell him all about this but could not as he had not met her. At first Jude was perplexed and Sue dismayed. After a prolonged discussion they decided that they must accept the child whatever might be the case. Sue promised to be a mother to him even if he was not Jude's child. They also decided to get married before the arrival of the child. Jude then wrote Arabella a formal letter to send the child to them at an early date.

      The boy arrives the very next day unexpectedly. Arabella was too clever to keep the child in her new house to disclose his identity to her second husband. And on the very day she received the reply from Jude the boy arrived at her place from her parent. She despatched him to Jude by the next train so that her husband might not get a chance to see him. So the boy who looked very thoughtful as well as very much older than his age, was found travelling alone in the train. He reached Aldbrickham quite late next evening, at 10 o'clock. At the suggestion of the ticket-collector he left his box at the station and started on foot to go to his father's place. When Jude and Sue were just going to retire to bed, there was a knock at their door and to his great surprise Jude found his son standing there. From his features Sue realised that he was really Jude's son; she was overwhelmed with jealousy and retired to the adjoining room. When Jude understood it he told Sue that he was withdrawing all his remarks about her sexlessness. When the boy asked if she was his real mother and could call her mother she was overwhelmed with emotion. Sue wanted to be a kind mother to him and both of them decided to bring up the poor unhappy boy as best as they could. Once more Sue decided to have their marriage ceremony over at the earliest for the sake of the boy.

Critical Analysis
      Son of Arabella and Jude. The most important thing in this chapter is the sudden appearance of the son of Jude and Arabella as if from nowhere to further complicate the life of Jude and Sue. Hardy With some fine and bold touches reveals the character of this strange and precocious child in its true perspective. "He was Age masquerading as Juvenility and doing it so badly that his real self showed through crevices." He never smiles, regarding the activities of this world with great indifference like an enslaved and dwarfed divinity. And unlike other children instead of coming from the particular to the general he seems to have begun with the generals of life never caring for the particulars.

      Sue's large-heartedness. This chapter also reveals nicely the brighter shades of Sue's character. Just after receiving Arabella's letter Sue encourages Jude by agreeing to adopt the child. And when he arrives her heart brims over with sympathy for the poor and unwanted child. She eagerly wants to be kind to the child and to be a good mother to him.

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