Study Guide

The Return of the Native Book 2, Chapter 5

By Thomas Hardy

Book 2, Chapter 5

Through the Moonlight

  • The next night the mummers gather by the Vyes' fuel house before proceeding to the Yeobrights' party.
  • They disagree what time it is since the clocks at the Quiet Woman, Blooms-End, and the Vyes' house are all different.
  • Eustacia finally appears in full costume and explains that Charley is sick and she's Miss Vye's cousin.
  • She performs a speech for the others to prove she can do it and they are duly impressed.
  • The group sets off across the heath, which is described in great detail. We've missed our heath descriptions – it's been a few pages.
  • Eustacia is excited and feels completely over Wildeve now.
  • The mummers finally arrive at the party, but everyone is still dancing inside. So they hang around outdoors to wait for their curtain call.
  • The dancing goes on and on. Eustacia learns that Mrs. Yeobright throws a party for the "common" folk every year. It's like a charity benefit.
  • Eustacia scolds the men for not having manners when they suggest just barging in and starting their play. Like a flash-performance, organized via Twitter.
  • The guys confer for a bit and then ask the Turkish Knight if she's Eustacia Vye.
  • Eustacia won't confirm or deny and the guys all agree to keep her secret. They don't really care what she gets up to in her spare time.
  • Finally, the dancing stops and the play begins.
  • The mummers deliver their clunky dialogue and the whole thing is basically what you would expect from an annual Christmas pageant.
  • Eustacia does her speeches well and hangs in there through her fake sword fights. She dies slowly and, after finally perishing for good, props herself against a wall in order to watch the crowd and find Clym.