Study Guide

The Mayor of Casterbridge Chapter 19

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Chapter 19

  • Henchard and Elizabeth-Jane are alone in the house now.
  • Henchard regrets not having told his daughter that he is her real father, not Captain Newson. He decides to tell her.
  • He says he and Susan were married when they were young.
  • He skips over the whole wife-auction part. He just says they lost each other and that Susan had thought he was dead when she married Captain Newson. He, Henchard, is her real father!
  • Elizabeth-Jane is, of course, upset. She's always loved Newson and thought of him as her father.
  • He tells her she can go to bed and sleep on it, and in the morning he'll show her papers that will prove it to her.
  • In the meantime, she agrees to use the last name Henchard from now on and even has a paragraph put into the town paper that announces the name change.
  • Henchard goes upstairs to find his old marriage certificate.
  • In her desk, he finds the letter she'd written for him.
  • He sees the note that he shouldn't open it until Elizabeth-Jane's wedding day, but the seal is already broken and he figures it doesn't matter, anyway.
  • The letter tells him that Elizabeth-Jane isn't the same child that he sold – that baby died shortly after the auction at the fair.
  • Susan had another child, with Newson, and named her Elizabeth-Jane after the first child.
  • So Elizabeth-Jane was Newson's child, after all!
  • But Henchard doesn't feel he can go back downstairs and take it all back again, especially after Elizabeth-Jane agreed to take his last name and even put the advertisement in the newspaper.
  • So he has to go on allowing Elizabeth-Jane to believe she's his daughter. But he begins to resent it.
  • The next morning, Elizabeth-Jane comes downstairs ready to call Henchard "father" and to begin thinking of him as her real father.
  • Henchard hardly appreciates it anymore.

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