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Michael Henchard wakes up in the furmity tent and remembers what happened.
He's angry that his wife didn't have the sense to realize that the auction wasn't binding – Susan was always too meek, he thinks.
Then he realizes that he's really the one to blame. He goes into a church and swears a solemn oath not to drink alcohol for as many years as he's been alive – 20. He won't touch alcohol again until he's 40 years old.
He starts searching for his wife and baby, but it's hard because he's not willing to tell anyone how he got separated from them. After all, admitting that he auctioned them off wouldn't make him very many friends.
Eventually he traces them to a port town and learns that they went to Canada.
He gives up hope of ever finding them again and moves on, trying to find work.