Study Guide

The Return of the Native Book 3, Chapter 3

By Thomas Hardy

Book 3, Chapter 3

The First Act in a Timeworn Drama

  • Mrs. Yeobright is upset that Clym is showing an interest in Eustacia.
  • Clym says, whatever, and leaves anyway.
  • The local men try to get some rope around the bucket and drag it back out, but they keep having trouble since the bucket is water-logged and heavy now.
  • Clym offers to take Timothy Fairway's place and to be lowered down some into the well to get the bucket.
  • Eustacia pipes up from the house and says to tie a rope around Clym since he might fall in the well.
  • But it's getting late and the men say they'll have to come back tomorrow.
  • Eustacia is bummed that she doesn't have water.
  • Clym offers to send her some water, but Eustacia says it's cool since she technically has pond water, even though it's gross.
  • The two walk over to the pond and Clym notices the ashes from the November bonfire.
  • Clym gallantly volunteers to try again for the bucket and Eustacia helps him.
  • But Eustacia just ends up with rope burn.
  • Clym looks her over and also checks out her stab wound, courtesy of crazy Susan – what a day for Eustacia.
  • The two talk about Clym's school plans and Eustacia shows some interest.
  • Clym learns that Eustacia isn't happy in Egdon and longs for city life.
  • The two part and are smitten with each other.
  • The next day Clym studies hard and then goes for a walk, where he meets Eustacia.
  • Upon returning home, his mom grills him.
  • Things get steadily more awkward between mother and son.
  • A few days later, Christian swings by with some gossip.
  • He tells Mrs. Yeobright that some people dug up some ancient urns on the heath. Clym was going to bring one home but gave it to Eustacia instead.
  • Mrs. Yeobright is peeved.
  • Spring arrives and, with it, nature descriptions.
  • Clym keeps wandering around and keeping weird hours.
  • The Yeobrights finally have a throw-down argument, which has been building for weeks.
  • They fight over Eustacia. Mrs. Yeobright calls her a hussy, while Clym defends his girlfriend.
  • Finally Clym storms out and stays out very late.