Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 4, Chapter 8

By Henry Fielding

Book 4, Chapter 8

A Battle Sung by the Muse in the Homerican Stile, and Which None But the Classical Reader Can Taste

  • Squire Western and Sophia both attend the same church where Molly appears in her cast-off gown.
  • Sophia notices that the other village women seem jealous of Molly's new clothes.
  • Sophia feels sorry for Molly immediately (because the villagers obviously hate her).
  • So she tells Black George she wants to hire Molly as her new maid.
  • Black George isn't totally sure that's going to work out, since he knows his daughter is pregnant.
  • But instead of leveling with Sophia about Molly's pregnancy, he rushes home to talk to his wife about what they should do.
  • Meanwhile, the women of the village are so riled up at the sight of Molly's new dress that they actually hang back after church to throw stuff at her. (Because this is kindergarten.)
  • Molly's not just going to take that kind of thing lying down: she starts throwing stuff right back.
  • And since she's standing in the churchyard, the stuff that's close to hand is mostly bones from a nearby fresh grave.
  • Yes. Seriously. Molly throws, like, a femur at someone. Along with a few skulls.
  • This is the most ridiculously morbid girlfight ever.
  • Molly's doing pretty well, as she keeps beating people with that handy thighbone she grabbed out of the ground.
  • Throughout this whole ridiculous scene, the narrator keeps using really fancy classical references. (Check out our list of "Allusions" under "Homer" for more on these.)
  • Molly's luck turns bad: a tough broad named Goody Brown finally grabs her by the hair and starts hitting her in the face.
  • Fortunately, Tom Jones arrives before the ladies can really start damaging one another's bodies.
  • Molly runs to Tom and bursts into tears, complaining (with some justice) that she has been unfairly attacked.
  • Tom is so angry that he runs at the crowd with his horsewhip.
  • Tom wraps Molly in his coat and escorts her home.
  • He promises to come back and visit her in the evening.