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Chapters 19 and 20

Chapter 19

Three weeks after the funeral, Henchard reveals to Elizabeth-Jane that he is her real father, causing her to cry but reluctantly, she accepts her new surname. He searches for some evidence to prove to her this reality, and he comes upon the note that Susan had written before her death. He ignores the instructions and opens it immediately to find the unfortunate news that Elizabeth-Jane is not his daughter. His real daughter had passed away and Susan had renamed her second child the same name to mask her sorrow over the first loss, but indeed, Elizabeth-Jane is not Henchard's daughter, but Newson's. Henchard cannot believe it, but upon glancing at Elizabeth-Jane's features that evening, he recognizes Newson and grows disgusted. The irony is unbearable and Henchard thinks it is to spite him, but he realizes that had he not disclosed what he foresaw as the truth, he never would have discovered Susan's note.
The next morning, Elizabeth-Jane resolves to call him Father, instead of Mr. Henchard, and although this has been Henchard's wish for some time now, he no longer takes pleasure in hearing him called this. He had remarried Susan primarily to provide for his daughter, and now his actions have been for naught.

Chapter 20

Henchard's agitation upon learning the truth causes him to lash out at Elizabeth-Jane, chiding her for her use of the vernacular, for her unladylike handwriting, and for her behavior towards the servants. One day, he scolds her for bringing a snack to Nance Mockridge while she works in the yard, and Mockridge tells Henchard coldly that Elizabeth-Jane waited at the Three Mariners, which makes Henchard even more indignant.
In her free time, Elizabeth-Jane strives nobly to refine herself, by reading prodigiously and learning new subjects like Latin. She also maintains a slight interest in Farfrae. In her sorrow, she visits her mother's grave. One day, she comes across a beautiful stranger at the gravesite whom Elizabeth-Jane admires for her grace and dignity. The woman fascinates Elizabeth-Jane, wondering who she is and where she is from, but she departs before Elizabeth-Jane can inquire. At home, Elizabeth-Jane meets the cross Henchard, angry that his mayoralty is ending but that he will not be re-asked to the Council. He comes up with the idea that if Farfrae weds her, he will not have to be encumbered by her presence, so he writes Farfrae, informing him that he no longer objects to his courtship of Elizabeth-Jane.
The next day, to escape her cold stepfather, Elizabeth-Jane returns to her mother's gravesite and meets the mystery woman. The new woman offers Elizabeth-Jane a position as her companion upon hearing Elizabeth-Jane's sad accounts of life with Henchard. She has just moved into town and is taking up residence in High-Place Hall. Elizabeth-Jane is delighted with the offer, and the lady allows her a few days to ponder before accepting.

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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