Study Guide

The Return of the Native Book 4, Chapter 2

By Thomas Hardy

Book 4, Chapter 2

He is Set Upon by Adversities; but He Sings a Song

  • Eustacia marches home after her fight with her mother-in-law and yells to Clym about his mother.
  • Clym is upset and demands to know what's up, but Eustacia refuses to repeat what was said.
  • Later, Thomasin visits Clym and tries to console him about the situation.
  • She also brings Clym his share of the inheritance money; Thomasin had spoken with Mrs. Yeobright and the truth about the money finally came out.
  • Clym starts studying harder so that he can move Eustacia into a nicer house and make her happier.
  • But he studies so hard that he completely ruins his eyes.
  • Seriously, Clym studies himself blind. Let this be a cautionary tale.
  • The doctor tells Clym that he'll have to rest his eyes for months and that he won't be able to read.
  • So Clym's plan to open a school is a bust and he decides to become a furze-cutter for the time being. Eustacia is horrified.
  • Clym is pretty happy as a furze-cutter and spends his day working hard, communing with nature, and singing lovely French songs.
  • Eustacia overhears him singing and loses it.
  • She basically accuses him of ruining her life and then singing about it like a jerk.
  • Clym insists that there's nothing wrong with his current job and that Eustacia shouldn't be a snob and ought to look on the bright side.
  • Eustacia goes home, angry and crying.