Study Guide

The Return of the Native Book 2, Chapter 1

By Thomas Hardy

Book 2, Chapter 1

Tidings of the Comer

  • The seasons are changing and winter is arriving in the heath, making for much shorter and colder days.
  • Eustacia is sitting inside and hears voices.
  • But she's not going crazy – she's hearing the echoes of the furze-cutters outside through the chimney.
  • What's a furze-cutter, you ask? Well it's someone who cuts furze, or gorse, which is a type of plant that grew on the heath. Gorse is edible and was used to feed livestock or as fire kindling.
  • Eustacia eavesdrops and listens as Sam, Humphrey, and her grandfather talk about Clym Yeobright.
  • Clym is apparently a golden boy, some sort of child prodigy with progressive political ideas and a fancy-pants job in Paris.
  • Clym's father was a farmer and his mother came from some money. His dad died many years ago.
  • They then discuss the scandal surrounding Thomasin, who's still unmarried.
  • Thomasin has been ill and has secluded herself indoors since the scandal broke.
  • Eustacia stops listening after this. Her imagination is full of Clym Yeobright and she spends the rest of the afternoon daydreaming about him and Paris.
  • We learn that Eustacia is nineteen.
  • Finally Eustacia heads outside for a walk.
  • The sun is setting and she gazes out over the heath towards Clym's house and thinks about how someone from Paris is about to come there for a visit.
  • Which makes Clym a Visitor, which means he may be a V, or an alien. Now that would be one heck of a plot twist.