Study Guide

The Mayor of Casterbridge Chapter 12

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Chapter 12

  • Henchard goes home and finds Farfrae still there working on the bookkeeping.
  • He invites him to come into the house and hang out for a while.
  • Henchard doesn't have any friends and he wants to confide in someone.
  • Farfrae seems trustworthy, so he starts telling him the whole story.
  • He tells every detail of the wife auction, then glosses over his rise to wealth and importance in Casterbridge.
  • Farfrae says he's done a lot of good to balance out the bad.
  • Then Henchard says that his wife has come back.
  • Great, says Farfrae.
  • Yeah, says Henchard, but there's a problem: if he takes Susan back, he'll hurt someone else.
  • A couple years earlier, when traveling on business in Jersey, Henchard got sick.
  • A young lady there took pity on him.
  • She was poor but well-educated, and her parents were dead.
  • She helped to nurse him back to health.
  • He swears they never slept together or anything, but they didn't worry too much about how things looked.
  • All the girl's friends and acquaintances assumed she'd been sleeping with Henchard.
  • Now, this is 19th-century England, and sex out of wedlock was a Very Big Deal.
  • Basically the girl's reputation was ruined, so obviously she wanted Henchard to marry her to make up for it.
  • He was planning to, because he assumed Susan was dead, but then Susan showed up!
  • Farfrae says it's too bad for the young lady from Jersey, but there's no help for it – Henchard should take care of Susan, since she's still alive.
  • Henchard agrees, and asks Farfrae to write a letter to the young lady to explain things to her.

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