Study Guide

The Mayor of Casterbridge Chapter 26

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Chapter 26

  • Henchard and Farfrae meet by chance in the street one morning.
  • They nod to each other, and Henchard stops Farfrae to chat.
  • They haven't talked in ages, and Farfrae is happy to be friends again.
  • Henchard reminds him of the secret he'd told him a long time ago – about the young lady whose reputation was ruined and whom he'd been planning to marry before Susan reappeared.
  • Farfrae remembers.
  • Henchard still doesn't mention the lady by name.
  • He says he has offered to marry the young lady but that she has refused.
  • Farfrae says hey, Henchard has done his duty and doesn't owe the young lady anything anymore.
  • Henchard agrees, but he doesn't want to let it go.
  • He figures there's someone else – a rival – and he's not the kind of guy to back down.
  • The next day, both Henchard and Farfrae visit at the same time.
  • It's kind of awkward.
  • Henchard realizes Farfrae must be his rival, which drives him crazy.
  • Henchard decides to take out his anger against Farfrae by trying to out-compete him in business, so he hires a new manager.
  • He looks up Joshua Jopp, the man who had wanted the job originally.
  • Jopp is still out of work, and Henchard hires him on the spot.
  • Jopp reminds Henchard that he had done business in Jersey, too, and had often seen Henchard there.
  • It doesn't occur to Henchard that Jopp might therefore know something about Lucetta.
  • He tells Jopp that his big plan is to out-compete Farfrae and drive him out of business.
  • Henchard decides to play the market. If he buys a lot of grain for cheap before the harvest, then the harvest is bad, the supply will go down and the price will go up. He'd therefore be able to re-sell all that grain at a huge profit.
  • The problem is that the weather is hard to predict.
  • So Henchard resorts to asking a kind of old wizard who lives out in the country to predict the weather for him.
  • The man tells him that the harvest will be crummy.
  • Henchard is delighted and buys a ton of grain.
  • But then the weather turns beautiful.
  • The price of grain falls and falls.
  • Henchard decides he can't afford to wait any longer and sells his grain at a huge loss.
  • Henchard is disgusted and fires Jopp in his anger.
  • Jopp is angry and determined to find a way to get revenge.

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