Study Guide

Rachel in The Return of the Native

By Thomas Hardy


Rachel is Thomasin's servant and her baby's nurse, and she is only thirteen. This little detail gives us a lot of insight into the historical period in which this novel is set. Poor kids didn't go to school (which is why Clym wanted to start a school in Egdon) and frequently had to go to work at a very early age. Rachel is shown to be rather flighty – she loses Thomasin's glove (after borrowing them without permission) at the May Day dance (6.2.10). And Thomasin doesn't seem to trust her all that much with the baby – Thomasin seems to be a pretty hands-on parent.