Jiffynotes index page

\\ home \ Mayor of Casterbridge, The:
Chapters 3 and 4

Chapter 3

Almost two decades pass, and one day, upon the same road leading to Weydon Priors, there walk two persons, one assumed to be Susan Henchard and the other her grown-up daughter, Elizabeth-Jane. The passage of time is confirmed not only by Susan's aged appearance but also by the mechanical improvements observable in the fair.
Elizabeth-Jane is unsettled with their passage through this particular town, but her mother tells her that she is looking for their "relation" Michael Henchard and that this is where she first meets her father, the sailor Newson. (Newson has been drowned at sea.) The girl is sure that no news can be determined from the ever-changing population at the fair, but the mother makes her way to the furmity tent in search of information nonetheless.
Susan casually makes conversation with the lady-vendor at the furmity tent, the same who had served her many years prior. She learns from her that many years ago, the man who engaged in the sale of his wife returned to ask her that if a woman ever came and inquired about him to tell her that he is now residing in Casterbridge. Susan reveals this to Elizabeth-Jane and tells her that they will make their way there starting in the morning.

Chapter 4

Through the years, Susan tries to tell her daughter the truth but always reneges for fear of disrupting Elizabeth-Jane's innocence. Her history to that point was that she had been taken to Canada until about eight years ago when the family returned to England. There, Susan learned from a confidant that the transaction that she had taken so seriously was actually non-binding and that she had no obligations to Newson over Henchard. After vague news of Newson's death, Susan had no doubts that it was in all propriety that she seek out Henchard, her real husband, and to enlighten Elizabeth.
Therefore, the young girl traveled in ignorance of the true relationship between Henchard and her mother, and as money is tight, the pair travel as cheaply as possible. The Casterbridge they come upon is old-fashioned, without any pretenses of modernism. The women are cautious in their initial inquiries about Henchard, for fear of learning any ill news about his current condition.
They bypass several shops with objects of agricultural value on display in their windows. As they make their way past the church, a bell tolls, signaling the end of business for the day, at the sound of which shutters loudly shut. The sound of a brass band makes its way to their ears.
Susan asks a bystander for the nearest baker's, but the woman tells them that good bread is in short supply in Casterbridge. The reason is that the corn-factor has sold them "growed wheat" that does not rise when cooked, and the entire town is outraged. Susan therefore purchases some biscuits instead and together, mother and daughter make their way towards the distant music.

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


Copyright © 1999 - Jiffynotes.com. All Rights Reserved.
To cite information from this page, please cite the date when you
looked at our site and the author as Jiffynotes.com.
Privacy Statement