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Chapters 17 and 18

Chapter 17

Elizabeth-Jane senses that she has irritated Henchard because she danced with Farfrae. She is sad that she is not fitting for the role of mayor's stepdaughter, and she leaves Farfrae's celebration alone. Farfrae joins her and asks to walk her home. They converse about Farfrae's impending departure, and he laments not being richer and more in Henchard's favor since otherwise, he would have asked Elizabeth-Jane a special question that evening. He even thinks back to their meeting at Durnover Hill, which he speculates to be someone's doing to get them to meet each other. Elizabeth-Jane is ashamed that she has feelings towards Farfrae.
The whole town is aware of the falling out between Farfrae and Henchard. However, Farfrae does not leave, instead he purchases a small corn and hay business and starts in town on his own standing. Elizabeth-Jane tries to draw his attention, but she thinks better of her silly behavior. Henchard meanwhile is extremely offended that Farfrae has his own business and that the townspeople are thinking more highly of his competition. In his bitterness, he discourages his stepdaughter from pursuing a relationship with him. Moreover, citing Farfrae as an "enemy," Henchard cautions him to stay away from Elizabeth-Jane, even though it might have been more suiting to encourage him to be his son-in-law. Farfrae operates his business with underlying respect for Henchard, but still, he grows to be immensely more prosperous. Henchard continues to snub Farfrae and he grows increasingly angry at Farfrae's business prospects. The name Donald Farfrae is seldom mentioned at all in the Henchard household.

Chapter 18

Susan Henchard is ill, but after the finest doctors are brought in, she recovers. Michael Henchard awakes one morning to find a letter from his woman in Jersey, saying that she understands his decision but requesting her letters back from him to hide any evidence of her excessive feelings towards him. The woman, Lucetta, will be passing through Casterbridge soon and plans to meet up with Henchard at that time. On that night, she does not arrive and Henchard concludes that something must have modified her arrangements and since he does not wish to see her, he is relieved.
However, Susan continues to grow ill, and one night, she writes a letter that she seals and directs to be unopened until Elizabeth-Jane's wedding day. Moreover, she confesses to her daughter that she was the one who arranged the meeting between her and Farfrae at Durnover Hill since she wishes for them to be wed. A few days later, Susan dies. The townspeople discuss the details of her death the next morning.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapters 1 and 2
Chapters 3 and 4
Chapters 5 and 6
Chapters 7 and 8
Chapters 9 and 10
Chapters 11, 12, and 13
Chapters 14 and 15
Chapter 16
Chapters 17 and 18
Chapters 19 and 20
Chapters 21 and 22
Chapters 23 and 24
Chapters 25 and 26
Chapter 27
Chapters 28 and 29
Chapters 30 and 31
Chapters 32 and 33
Chapter 34
Chapters 35 and 36
Chapter 37
Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapters 40 and 41
Chapters 42 and 43
Chapter 44
Chapter 45



 






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