Study Guide

The Return of the Native Book 2, Chapter 6

By Thomas Hardy

Book 2, Chapter 6

The Two Stand Face to Face

  • Eustacia is still propped against the wall watching the party and looking for Clym.
  • Thomasin is nowhere to be seen, and Eustacia guesses that she's hiding due to her scandalous almost-but-not-quite marriage to Damon Wildeve.
  • But then Eustacia sees Clym and all other thoughts stop.
  • We learn that he looks young but not immature; is handsome; looks intelligent; seems to stand out in the crowd; and so on.
  • Eustacia is completely smitten.
  • Finally the play ends and Timothy Fairway enters with Christian Cantle.
  • Mrs. Yeobright asks why they're so late and they guys reply that they were waiting for the party to settle down some before making a fashionably late appearance.
  • Grandfer Cantle sidles over and the group begin discussing how much Clym has or hasn't changed over the years he's been in Paris.
  • Other random heath people come over and have yet another rambling conversation.
  • Meanwhile Mrs. Yeobright invites the mummers to stay and party.
  • Eustacia is glad she can hang out and gaze at Clym some more.
  • Clym comes up to the mummers and offers them some drinks. Eustacia says no thanks.
  • Eustacia is thrilled to speak to Clym, but she's also extremely anxious that her disguise will be discovered.
  • "She had loved him partly because he was exceptional in this scene, partly because she had determined to love him, chiefly because she was in desperate need of loving somebody after wearying of Wildeve" (2.6.38).
  • Eustacia continues to lurk about and spy on Clym.
  • She overhears a conversation between him and Thomasin, who snuck downstairs to chat.
  • Clym pesters her about joining the party but Thomasin insists that she is "ill" and won't come out.
  • Eustacia realizes what this means and is embarrassed for herself and for Thomasin. Clym obviously doesn't know about the Wildeve scandal.
  • Eustacia is starting to get annoyed at her disguise and doesn't like being dismissed as a boy at the party.
  • She slips away from the crowd and Clym follows her.
  • He says he thinks she's a woman in disguise.
  • Eustacia admits it and says she did it because she wanted some excitement.
  • They play twenty questions and Clym tries to find out who she is.
  • But Eustacia won't tell him her name and he agrees to not tell anyone about her being in disguise.
  • They part and Eustacia crashes back down to reality. She realizes that she doesn't know the Yeobrights and she's basically fallen for a stranger who has no way of getting to know her.
  • She is also upset by the fact that Thomasin is still unmarried – she's worried that Thomasin will make a move on Clym now.
  • Eustacia goes home and throws off her costume, and then goes to bed upset.