Study Guide

The Return of the Native Book 2, Chapter 3

By Thomas Hardy

Book 2, Chapter 3

How a Little Sound Produced a Great Dream

  • Eustacia goes a bit Lifetime movie on us and decides to stake out the Yeobright house.
  • The house is dark so she's about to give up and head home.
  • But as she starts back, she hears voices – it's the Yeobrights.
  • The Yeobrights greet Eustacia, and she murmurs a reply. She doesn't get a look at Clym's face, but she does hear his voice.
  • "She strained her eyes to see them, but was unable. Such was her intentness, however, that it seemed as if her ears were performing the functions of seeing as well as hearing" (2.3.5).
  • Eustacia slows and listens to the Yeobrights chat as they walk away.
  • Given how dull the heath is, Eustacia decides that this little incident is the most exciting thing ever.
  • Going off of Clym's voice and her ideas of Paris, Eustacia constructs a fantastic imaginary boyfriend and spends the rest of her evening daydreaming about Clym.
  • When she arrives home she gives her imagination a brief rest and asks her grandfather why they aren't best buds with the Yeobrights.
  • Her grandfather isn't sure. He liked Mr. Yeobright well enough, but he says that Eustacia wouldn't be fond of the family since they are too "countrified" (2.3.14). Yes, he totally said that. Though it's not to be confused with "country-fried," like a KFC commercial.
  • We learn from grandpa that Mrs. Yeobright used to be something of a "lady," but she married a farmer and was obliged to live as a farmer's wife, a step down on the social ladder from where she began.
  • Eustacia goes to bed and has a fantastic dream about dancing with a knight in shining armor, literally. But just as he goes to take off his helmet, she wakes up. She's depressed that she wasn't able to see Clym's face the night before.
  • We think that dancing with a masked knight is a bit creepy, but Eustacia seemed to like her dream, at any rate.
  • If you thought Eustacia's imagination would finally cool it, think again. She spends the next few days daydreaming and obsessing over Clym.
  • She even starts parading around on the heath hoping that she will run into him magically.
  • After a number of trips outside, Eustacia finally gives up, feeing a bit embarrassed.
  • But apparently "Providence" has something in store for her. Foreshadowing!