Study Guide

Adam Bede Chapter 53

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Chapter 53

The Harvest Supper

  • As Chapter 53 opens, Adam is "going homeward, on Wednesday evening, in the six o'clock sunlight" (53.1). Then he hears music.
  • Apparently, a whole bunch of Hayslope laborers have gathered at the Hall Farm, along with our old friends Bartle Massey and Mr. Craig. Martin Poyser is presiding, serving out meat and finding it pleasant "to see how the others enjoyed their supper" (53.7). Aww.
  • And even though Adam Bede has barely fifty pages to go, Eliot is still giving us new characters. We get to meet Tom Saft, who loves his Harvest Supper roast beef and plays "the part of the old jester" on the Poyser farm (53.8). We get to meet old Kester Bale, who seems like he's been on the Hall Farm since the beginning of time.
  • There's also Alick the shepherd, who put in a few earlier cameos. And Tim the wagoner, who doesn't seem to be on such great terms with Alick. And, big, unscrupulous Ben Tholoway, who's been "detected more than once in carrying away his master's corn in his pockets" (53.10). What do any of these characters have to do with anything?
  • Well, when the roast beef is finished, all these "new guys" sing a song in honor of their host, Martin Poyser.
  • Mr. Craig starts "talking politics" (53.23). He has contempt for a lot of people: England's administrators, France's soldiers, the other Donnithorne servants. Though he does have nice enough words for Napoleon: "I'll not deny but he may be a bit cliver—he's no Frenchman born, as I understand—but what's he got at's back but mounseers?" (54.29).
  • Adam takes offense. If the French are such wimps, then there's "no merit" in defeating them (53.32).
  • But politics is such a touchy subject. The conversation soon turns to the newly-departed Dinah. She's the one woman Bartle seems capable of tolerating, but she still sets him off on one of those weird misogynistic rants of his. Which everyone, Mrs. Poyser especially, seems to laugh off.
  • Things aren't exactly wrapping up, but Adam and Bartle have decided to leave. Adam "had been longing to go ever since he had heard Dinah was not in the house" (35.52).

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