Study Guide

The Return of the Native Book 2, Chapter 8

By Thomas Hardy

Book 2, Chapter 8

Firmness is Discovered in a Gentle Heart

  • Time for a flashback!
  • Clym is out visiting a friend and Thomasin comes in to tell her aunt that the wedding with Damon is back on.
  • Her aunt is cautiously optimistic about the whole thing.
  • Clym wrote a letter asking what's going on with Thomasin – he's shocked by the whole thing and wonders how Thomasin could "mortify" them so badly by getting jilted (2.8.14).
  • Thomasin and her aunt discuss the situation. Thomasin knows that Damon is a jerk but feels she should make the best of it. Marriage would solve the scandal problem, at least.
  • Diggory arrives in the flashback and we get the scene from Thomasin and Mrs. Yeobright's perspective this time.
  • Then we jump forward in time to the wedding day.
  • Thomasin is getting dressed and she elaborately braids her hair for the occasion, like she's Princess Leia or something.
  • Thomasin goes to leave but then rushes back to hug her aunt. The two cry and part sadly.
  • Clym returns home and asks what the deal is with Thomasin.
  • His mom tells him the whole story and Clym is upset that no one filled him in earlier.
  • Mrs. Yeobright tells him he doesn't know how hard it's been for Thomasin and to stuff it.
  • Clym decides to attend the wedding, but Mrs. Yeobright tells him it's probably over by now.
  • Diggory Venn shows up again and informs them that he spied on the wedding and everything went off without a hitch this time.
  • But then Diggory informs everyone that Eustacia Vye was in attendance and stood up with Thomasin.
  • The Yeobrights think it's bizarre.
  • The narrator busts in and tells us that Eustacia came to stick it to Damon and the two had a rather tense confrontation at the wedding.
  • Damon tries to gloat, but Eustacia knocks him down a few pegs by saying "You mistake; it gives me sincerest pleasure to see her your wife today" (2.8.104).
  • So, there's an odd scene in which Mrs. Yeobright throws her shoe at Thomasin as she walks away. What's the deal here? Was she really that mad about the wedding? Well, actually, tossing a shoe at a bride was a good-luck custom at the time. Weird, but true.