Study Guide

The Return of the Native Book 1, Chapter 2

By Thomas Hardy

Book 1, Chapter 2

Humanity Appears upon the Scene, Hand in Hand with Trouble

  • Some people finally arrive!
  • An old man is walking along a road.
  • Another fellow appears on the scene – it's a guy walking alongside a van (a carriage drawn by a horse, not like, a Dodge Caravan) and surrounded by a cloud a red dust, like Pig-Pen.
  • This guy is a "reddleman," which is a person who sold red dye to people.
  • Since he works with red dye all the time, the reddleman is stained red and is often socially ostracized because of that.
  • The men walk along the road. Yes, nature is described some more.
  • Finally, the two guys strike up a conversation.
  • There's a girl in the reddleman's van. The reddleman is not her husband, and he's just helping her out of a jam. He refuses to elaborate more than that.
  • The old man, a retired naval officer, is nosey, but doesn't learn any juicy gossip.
  • The old man leaves for his house and we follow the reddleman.
  • The heath used to be a hangout for ancient Celts and there's some cool ruins and a creepy, prehistoric vibe floating around the place.
  • The reddleman sees a mysterious figure on a hill, but it promptly disappears.