The Return of the Native
by Thomas Hardy
The Return of the Native Tradition and Custom Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph)
"Let the past be forgotten. Well, God bless you! There, I don't believe in old superstitions, but I'll do it." She threw a slipper at the retreating figure of the girl, who turned, smiled, and went on again. (2.8.41)
First off, if you are wondering what's up with the slipper, see our summary of Book 2, Chapter 8 for more information (it's a Victorian custom for luck, basically). Second, we love the contrast between these sentences. Mrs. Yeobright says to "forget" the past, but immediately after that she remembers an old custom and does it anyway, even if she doesn't believe in it.
"You are rather afraid of me. Do you know what I be?"
The child surveyed his vermilion figure up and down with much misgiving, and finally said, "Yes."
"The reddleman!" he faltered.
"Yes, that's what I be. Though there's more than one." (1.8.35-9)
We love how Diggory undermines the idea of "the" reddleman by calmly pointing out that there's more than one reddleman. But it's interesting that Diggory doesn't say he is "a" reddleman. By saying "that," he kind of confirms Johnny's exclamation, that he is "the reddleman." It's like "the reddleman," like a bogeyman, is a general idea that a lot of people happen to be.
"You little children think there's only one [...] devil, and one reddleman, when there's lots of us all."
"Is there? You won't carry me off in your bags, will ye, master? 'Tis said that reddleman will sometimes."
"Nonsense. All that reddlemen do is sell reddle." (1.8.39-41)
This passage has some interesting thematic content since it ties the idea of superstition and traditional beliefs to childhood.