Jude the Obscure Part Fifth: At Aldbrickham and Elsewhere Summary
Both divorces go through the courts. Technically, Jude and Sue are free! Let the happiness begin, right, guys? Surely it's all fine now—what could possibly go wrong?
In honor of their newfound freedom, Jude and Sue go for a walk together, but they soon start arguing. Sue still feels a deep hatred for the whole institution of marriage.
Jude keeps talking about their engagement, but Sue just isn't into it—she feels that, as soon as they are legally matched and have to love each other, they will immediately stop really loving each other.
Jude worries that this is all proof that Sue doesn't really love him, since she has never actually come out and said so. But all Sue wants is the freedom to decide how she will live with Jude.
Times are tough, and a lot of their neighbors look strangely at Sue and Jude. Jude decides to take up his own independent stonemason work, and Sue helps him.
Just when you thought things might turn bright and happy (which Hardy never lets you believe for long in this book), Arabella shows up out of the blue. That woman has a psychic sense for the worst times she could possibly appear, we swear. She calls on Jude at his house, but only Sue is home.
Not one for politeness or human decency, Arabella calls again, and Sue begs Jude not to see her. In fact, to keep him from going to see Arabella, Sue flings herself at Jude. She tells him, 'I am not a cold-natured, sexless creature, for keeping you at such a distance' (5.2.63). Whew. It took them a long time (like, over a year of living together), but Jude and Sue have finally had sex.
Sue goes to see Arabella and tells her to write to Jude about whatever business she has with him.
Putting aside old fears of marriage, Sue and Jude go to the courthouse to get hitched…and then change their minds. (Are you noticing a pattern with these two?)
A letter arrives from Arabella with yet another bombshell. She informs Jude that he has a son from their marriage that she never told him about. Boom! Moreover, the boy has returned from Australia and will be coming to stay with Jude, because her new husband can't know about the child. Boom again! (Seriously, what is wrong with this woman? Does she have no sense of personal responsibility? Jude has the most intensely awful luck …)
Kind soul that she is, Sue decides that they must take care of the child.
Enter Little Father Time! Yep, that's the boy's nickname. It's unusual for a major character to show up two-thirds of the way through the novel, but that's how Thomas Hardy rolls. He's a rule-breaker, a rebel, a maverick—or maybe he just likes surprises. On a side note, Little Father Time would make a really cool band name (if you could shake off the negative associations of what this kid is like).
LFT walks to Jude and Sue's house.
With the arrival of the boy, Sue decides that it is really time to get officially married, now.
Okay, people, it's finally going to happen. Jude and Sue are absolutely—no question, no doubt, no hesitations—going to get married and live happily ever after. We all believe them, right? Sue and Jude go to get the marriage certificate issued. This is it!
Mrs Edlin, the widow who took care of their late aunt, arrives to be their witness.
They're so close. They just have to close the deal and call it a day. They go to get married. And Sue freaks out. (Again? Seriously, Sue? This marriage-phobia is getting out of control.)
Maybe if they saw someone else get married it might make things better. (Sure, that sounds like something rational human beings would do.) Sue and Jude go to listen to a wedding at a church…and they decide not to marry. (Whaaaat? We're not saying that marriage is the be-all end-all of relationships or anything, but come on, guys—you're obviously making your lives harder than they have to be!)
Unmarried, they go back home. They tell the widow Mrs Edlin, but they agree not to tell Little Father Time. (Yet another in a seemingly endless cascade of great decisions from Jude and Sue …)
Jude, Sue, and LFT have a little family outing to the Great Wessex Agricultural Show.
As luck would have it, Arabella and her husband are also there. (Arabella is like the dictionary definition of a bad penny.) Arabella spots Sue and Jude and becomes obsessed with her ex-husband and his current lady friend. She leaves her husband behind and follows them.
Arabella's old friend Anny (one of the girls who was with her when she first met Jude) sees Arabella. They talk about Jude, and then continue following the couple.
We guess no visit to the fair is complete without a chance to check out your own handy work: Jude and Sue have a model of one of the colleges from Christminster on display. (So that obsession with Christminster is also still going strong, we see.)
Just in case you felt the lack of some of the characters from early in the novel, Dr. Vilbert the quack turns up unexpectedly to sells Arabella a love potion.
In the hopes of making LFT happy, Sue and Jude bring him to look at some of the lovely flowers on display. But nothing interests the boy. He apologizes to Sue and Jude (whom he calls Mother and Father): 'I should like the flowers very very much, if I didn't keep on thinking they'd all be withered in a few days!' This kid has a dark worldview, certainly—we'd call him Eeyore-like, except that he's a heck of a lot more disturbing than everybody's favorite gloomy animated donkey.
As the gossips talk more and more about Jude and Sue's unconventional (by which we mean still unmarried) situation and children at school make fun of LFT, Jude and Sue leave for London to get married. When they return, Sue takes Jude's last name.
(Side note: don't let this name thing fool you. They are not really married.)
The added mystery of their supposed marriage in London just makes people question them more.
Victorian England is no place for scandal, so Jude starts to lose work.
We discover that Sue is pregnant (though, of course, the word is never used).
They are forced auction off their belongings.
Sue sells her pet pigeons to be used as food, but Sue can't bear the thought of it. She tracks them down, and sets the pigeons free!
The little family decides to move without telling anyone where they are going.
Once again, we jump forward in time, and once again, the future is even worse than what we've already seen. It's like Terminator or Looper(with less time travel and fewer scenes of horrifying violence). Our point is, the future is generally a terrible place in Jude the Obscure. Two and a half years of nomad-style roaming have passed for Jude, Sue, and the fam.
Things had been going really well, but then Jude fell ill.
To make a little extra money, Sue sells homemade gingerbreads (in the shapes of buildings from Christminster) at fairs and shows.
Arabella sees her selling her wares.
We learn that Sue and Jude now have two children of their own along with LFT.
It turns out that Arabella has become a serious Christian after the death of her husband. She has come to the fair to hear a religious man speak in honor of the new chapel going up.
When Arabella spots Sue with her gingerbreads, she tells Sue she wishes she had kept LFT.
Once again, cue the ominous music: Arabella wants Jude back. Now we get it: Arabella is like Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: she wants everything nooooow.And since Jude continues not to be technically married to Sue, there is no legal reason why they shouldn't be together.
Chance once again intervenes as Arabella passes a tired and old Phillotson and gives him a ride.
He has returned to Marygreen and has been reduced to working in a small school for a friend.
Sue tells Jude about seeing Arabella at the fair. He decides it's time to move on again. One guess at where he wants to go…