Study Guide

Jane Eyre Volume 3, Chapter 2

By Charlotte Brontë

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Volume 3, Chapter 2

  • Two days later, the coachman leaves Jane somewhere called Whitcross because her money has run out. Whitcross is just a crossroads, not a town, so she has at least ten miles to walk, but it’s getting dark so she can’t start now.
  • Jane walks out into the heath and finds a place on the moor to sleep while she thinks about what to do and where to go.
  • Jane feels like she’s being taken care of by Mother Nature; she finds a dry, warm place to sleep and even some berries to eat.
  • Jane can’t sleep because she’s so worried about Mr. Rochester and has to pray for him before she can fall asleep.
  • In the morning, Jane wakes up early, goes back to Whitcross, and starts walking down one of the roads pretty much at random. After several hours she hears a church bell, which leads her to a small village.
  • Jane sees a little bakery in the village; she’s out of money, but she thinks maybe she can trade a silk handkerchief or gloves for food. When she goes into the shop, she’s too ashamed to try bartering, and just asks for a place to sit down.
  • Jane questions the woman working at the store about job opportunities for women in the area, but there isn’t really anything available that she could do.
  • Jane stays in the little town, wandering around, for over an hour, but can’t think of any reason to ask to go into any of the houses. Eventually she goes up to the door of a nice-looking house and asks if they need a servant, but they don’t. They’re nice to her, but can’t help her.
  • Although she wants to slink away and rest in the forest, Jane knows she won’t be able to rest while she’s so hungry.
  • Eventually Jane decides that the best thing to do would be to go to the parsonage and ask the local clergyman for help and advice. She goes back to the church, finds the parsonage beside it, and asks for the clergyman, but he’s out of town.
  • Jane goes back to the bakery and offers to trade her handkerchief or gloves for a roll or even half of a little cake, but the woman won’t barter with her.
  • Jane keeps walking. That evening, she passes a farmhouse, where she sees a farmer eating bread and cheese. She asks him for a piece of bread, which he gives to her without saying anything.
  • Jane sleeps in the wood, but she has to keep moving so that nobody finds her, and at one point it rains. She’s soaked.
  • The next day, Jane keeps wandering around and asking around for work, but can’t find any. In the evening, she gets a little more food—a bowl of old, sticky, congealed porridge that a girl was going to feed to a pig.
  • Jane finally turns away from the village (she’s already on the outskirts of it anyway) and walks toward a hill. She looks for a little hollow in the side of the hill where she can curl up and sleep, but instead she sees a light shining in the distance. She’s pretty much given up hope of finding help anywhere, but she goes toward the light anyway.
  • When Jane reaches the light, she discovers that it comes from a large-ish house. Through one window, Jane sees a nice, clean room with some expensive furniture and a fire burning. There’s an old woman in the room knitting, and two young ladies sitting together reading.
  • As Jane watches and listens, she figures out that the two young women are actually using dictionaries to help them read and translate books that are in German. Jane learns that the old woman is a servant named Hannah and the ladies are Diana and Mary, and that the ladies are waiting for their brother St. John (pronounced "SIN-jun," fyi) to come home.
  • Jane also notices that the ladies are in mourning—they’re wearing black, Hannah talks about missing someone who is "in a better place," and eventually one of them mentions that it was their father who died recently. Good thing they explained, or we and Jane wouldn’t know what was going on, right?
  • Jane knocks at the door of the house and asks to speak to the ladies, but Hannah is suspicious and doesn’t want to let her talk to them, although she does offer her a piece of bread and a penny. She tells Jane to leave and bolts the door.
  • Jane’s too wet and hungry and exhausted to go anywhere, so she lets herself fall down on the doorstep and waits for God to decide what will happen to her.
  • As Jane is lying on the doorstep, St. John arrives home and finds her there. Hannah still doesn’t want to let Jane in, but St. John can tell that Jane isn’t an ordinary beggar and invites her into the house.
  • Diana and Mary are very sympathetic to Jane’s plight; they offer her break and milk. Jane eats and drinks so fast that they have to take the food away so she doesn’t make herself sick.
  • Jane’s too exhausted to tell her story, but she is quick-thinking enough to invent a pseudonym for herself—Jane Elliott.
  • Even without knowing what’s happened to Jane or why she’s there, the three siblings agree to take care of her, and put her to bed in a spare room.

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