The Return of The Native: Book 5, Chapter 9 - Summary & Analysis

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CHAPTER IX: Sights and Sounds Draw the Wanderers Together


      After receiving the signal from Eustacia, Wildeve makes preparation to help her in her flight. He is inwardly wishing to accompany her through the arrangement is that he would merely drive her to Budmouth harbor and leave her there. He sets the carriage ready and drives it to a spot by the roadside at twenty minutes to twelve some quarter of a mile below the inn and begins waiting for Eustacia.

Attempts to Rescue Eustacia

      Instead of Eustacia, it is Clym who has come. Suddenly, they hear a sound. It is the sound of somebody falling in the stream. Clym fears that it is Eustacia. He runs towards the spot and Wildeve follows him with a lamp. Both of them jump into the water to rescue her.

The Reddleman's Brave Act

      The reddleman is on his way to Thomasin's house along with her and he also hears the noise. He sends Thomasin with two men and he goes toward the pool. The two men, send along with Thomasin also arrive at the spot and with their help the reddleman is able to lift Clym and Wildeve out. Then after another search, they find the body of Eustacia.
All the bodies are put into Wildeve's carriage and taken to Wildeve's house. The signs of life are left with Clym, but the other two are dead. Clym gets recovered by morning. He says that she is the second woman Twhoni he killed that year. He wished that he himself should have died instead of the two.

Critical Analysis

      This is an important chapter and Eustacia's death occurs in this chapter. Hardy does not make it clear whether this is an accident or suicide. Wildeve is so much in love with Eustacia, and for her, he sacrifices his life. This chapter forms the climax of the tragedy of Eustacia and Wildeve. Clym is filled with great self-reproach and holds himself responsible for the death of his mother and now Eustacia. He laments "I was a great cause of my mother's death, and I am the chief cause of hers."

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