The Return of The Native: Book 4, Chapter 2 - Summary & Analysis

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CHAPTER II: He is Set Upon by Adversities But He Sings a Song


Eustacia's Grudge against Mrs. Yeobright

      After her encounter with Mrs. Yeobright, Eustacia hastily returned to her new home instead of spending the afternoon with her grandfather. After coming she made Clym miserable by refusing to meet Clym's mother anymore ill future. The same morning Clym had expressed a wish that Eustacia should go and meet his mother in order to patch up the differences. She refused to interact with her mother-in-law as she felt that Mrs. Yeobnght wanted to humiliate her. She then got a chance to instigate Clym to take her to Paris as she hated this place but Clym strictly refused to do so.

Thomasin visited Clym

      The mystery of the guineas was solved the next day when Thomasin hurriedly brought Clym’s share of fifty guineas to his house. Clym told Thomasin about the bitter encounter between his mother and wife and lamented on their "inflammable natures". Thomasin tried to comfort him by speaking about all positive things.

Clym's Worsened-eyesight made Him Change His Plan

      The strain Clym was exerting on his eyes by studying till late night had a disastrous effect on his eye-sight. The doctor instructed him to remain in a room devoid of all lights and his condition became miserable. Clym wanted her mother to come at this moment but felt that his condition would only make her unhappy. He took his trouble more philosophically and after a month was allowed to go outdoor wearing dark glasses. Since he was asked not to return back to his books, he abandoned his project of teaching and started cutting faggots as an occupation, Eustacia was utterly distressed at Clym's decision to become a furze-cutter as this would lower her social status. She cried a lot but she was helpless.

Eustacia's Bitterness and Sorrow

      One day, when Clym was cutting faggots in a carefree mood, Eustacia saw him working as a humble laborer and told him that she would rather starve herself than do that kind of work. Clym some-what felt that Eustacia was acting cold towards him and to his surprise, Eustacia affirmed that her chances in life had been ruined by hastily marrying an unfortunate man like him.

Critical Analysis

      Clym's life is shown to be changed by the damage to his eyesight in this chapter. Though all his hopes are ended in one day, Clym is seen to be a calm-headed man who adjusts himself well to his misfortunes. On the other hand, Eustacia could not tolerate his misfortune as it proves to be a great blow to her social prestige, and she feels offended at his happy mood. She is bitter towards Clym after that and their marriage starts turning to be a failure. So, a triangular breach is seen between Clym, his mother and Eustacia.

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