Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 18, Chapter 2

By Henry Fielding

Book 18, Chapter 2

Containing a Very Tragical Accident

  • Partridge arrives to visit Tom, looking pale and sick.
  • Tom asks him what is the matter.
  • Partridge informs him: the woman who was just visiting Tom? "Mrs. Waters"?
  • She is, in point of fact—Jenny Jones, Tom's mother.
  • So Tom realizes that he has committed incest with his own mother.
  • (That's—pretty shocking, actually. Echoes of the Oedipus Complex, anybody?)
  • Tom (as you might expect) is horrified, and starts feeling guilty right away.
  • Partridge goes to look for Mrs. Waters but doesn't find her.
  • But Tom receives a letter from Mrs. Waters saying that she has just discovered something about Tom, and they have to talk.
  • She tells him not to freak out until they next meet.
  • She promises him in writing that Mr. Fitzpatrick is better, so at least Tom isn't guilty of murder.
  • Both Partridge and Tom read this letter and take it as confirmation that Mrs. Waters = Jenny Jones = Tom's mom.
  • Black George arrives at the prison.
  • Black George reports that there has been a big argument among the Westerns, and that Mrs. Western has left swearing that she will never speak to Squire Western again.
  • Squire Western has also promised Sophia that he will never lock her up again. (How nice of him.)
  • The narrator jumps in to explain why the Westerns have been fighting:
  • Mrs. Western tries again to force Squire Western to marry Sophia to Lord Fellamar.
  • Squire Western refuses, and the two siblings fight so violently that Mrs. Western storms out.
  • She totally forgets to show her brother Sophia's letter from Tom, which is lucky for Sophia.
  • Once Mrs. Western leaves, Sophia starts trash-talking her aunt to Squire Western.
  • Sophia has never sided with her father against Mrs. Western before.
  • He is so pleased to hear her turning against her aunt that he promises never to lock her up again.
  • Sophia swears that she will never marry a man without Squire Western's consent.
  • So Squire Western is very happy with her.