Jude The Obscure: Part 6, Chapter 2 - Summary & Analysis

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Part 6: Chapter II

      Synopsis: Sue has a frank talk with little Time after the unhappy incidents of the day - the boy much distressed - no will to live - the news of the expected bady exasperates him - early next morning Sue goes out to meet Jude - back at the lodgings to find the three children hanging from the wall - Father Time killed himself after hanging them Sue falls asleep and children are buried - Sue rushes to the cemetery to have a last look - but brought back - delivers a still - born child.

Summary
      Frank talk between Sue and deeply affected Father Time. After returning from their futile search for another lodging Sue was in a brooding mood. The failure to find another lodging, the unsympathetic attitude of the landlords towards a family with children, his father's inability to stay with them for that night - all these made a sad and deep impression on Father Time. Sue and Father Time began to talk about the happenings of the day. When he asked if it was because of the children that they could not get suitable lodgings. Sue could not but admit it. He then asserted that if the children were the source of so much trouble, people should not bring the into this world. He even suggested that unwanted children should be killed directly before they are even born. Sue was unable to put forward strong counter-arguments. And when Sue informed him that she was going to have another child soon, he was terribly shocked, burst out weeping and reproached her bitterly. It was not possible for Sue to explain such delicate matters to This young boy. Weeping still he went to the adjoining closet and remarked "If we children were gone there'd be no trouble at all!" Sue simply asked him to sleep after all the trials and tribulations of the day.

      Father Time kills himself and the two children. Next morning Sue rose early and quietly left to meet Jude as his inn. She did not like to disturb the children as they seemed to be quietly sleeping in the other room. Sue informed Jude that they had been asked to leave their present lodgings that day. They decided to move to Jude's inn for a day or two. After having a hasty breakfast together they soon returned to the lodgings. All was quiet in the children's closet. Jude began to prepare breakfast for them. And Sue just after entering the room gave a piercing shriek and sunk to the floor. Jude entered the room and was aghast and awe-struck to find all the three children hanging on the wall from nails with a piece of box-cord round each of their necks. They found a note written by Father Time who had scribbled the line: "Done because we are too many." Sue was thrown into an unabated convulsive agony. She mournfully thought herself to be the cause of the unthinkable tragedy because of her frank talk with little Father Time the night before. "The boy's face expressed the whole tale of their situation." Jude tried to console grief-stricken Sue as best as he could. Sue moaned pitiably that 'our perfect union - our two-in-oneness is now stained with blood.'

      Sue rushes to the cemetery after burial - the still-born child. Next morning after the legal inquest the three children were placed in two little boxes and buried in the local cemetery. After tremendous stress and strain Sue fell asleep, so they did not awake her. Coming back Jude thought she was still asleep in her room. But at about four o'clock when the landlady entered her room she was found missing. Jude immediately went out in quest of her and found her at last in the graveyard. She was found piteously appealing to a man with a shovel to open the grave of the children again to enable her to have a last look at them. Jude prevailed on her and brought her back. But after reaching home she was in a very bad way and the doctor was sent for. The most unfortunate thing was that at a very late hour Sue gave birth prematurely to a stillborn child.

Critical Analysis
      Utterly broken - down Sue blames fate. This is the most harrowing and tragic chapter in the book and perhaps in the whole of English literature. We find utterly grief-stricken Sue blaming herself for an external power or fate for all their misfortunes. She very sadly feels - There is something external to us which says, "you shan't!" First it said, "you shan't learn!" Then it said, 'you shan't labour!' Now it says, 'you shan't love! Jude also in reply to one of her queries says: "Nothing can be done. Things are as they are, and will be brought to their destined issue." The tragic incidents here, like happenings in Hardy's other books, give an insight into the author's philosophy of life that man is inevitably a victim of his circumstances of Fate.

      Father Time a morbid and disillusioned child. Father Time is a very sad and cogent example of an unwanted and neglected child revealing to us how morbid and perverted such can become at a very early age. Little Father Time was absolutely disillusioned about life. This was quite clear when he says: "I troubled 'em in Australia, and I trouble folk here. I wish I hadn't been born!" The incident on the remembrance day which to him seemed to be the Judgement Day and then the news of Sue's expected child are too much for him to bear. Even Sue's motherly affection could not lift the cloud from his mind. So this morbid and disillusioned child ultimately brings about this tragic doom in their life. The doctor's comment on Father Time's act is significant. He says that such boys are the "outcome of new views of life. They seem to see all its terrors before they are old enough to have the staying power to resist them. He says it is the beginning of the coming universal wish not to live."

      Satire and sarcasm. We have a good bit of satire and sarcasm in this chapter. This time the target's are the clergymen and landlords. When Jude and Sue are in the midst of unbearable troubles and suffering they overhear two persons disputing about the position on' a priest at the altar when celebrating the Eucharist. And the landlords are discussing about changing the number of the house to blot out its bad name due to the tragic incident of the children's death.

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