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Chapters 40 and 41

Chapter 40

That evening, Henchard spies the figures and knows their intention. At Lucetta's, he learns that a rider has been dispatched to get Farfrae, but Henchard's good name has been lost and no one believes him when he says that Farfrae has been sidetracked to Weatherbury. Therefore, he seeks to remedy the situation by informing Farfrae himself. When he finally meets Farfrae on the road, he tries to explain the night's events but to no avail. Farfrae also mistrusts his information and refuses to head back to Casterbridge, as Henchard beckons him to do. Farfrae knows that Lucetta might be ill, since she is pregnant, but his suspicion of Henchard is too great, thinking he will be ambushed by a gang hired by Henchard. Unable to convince Farfrae who rides off on a path away from town, Henchard curses himself for his schemes. He returns unsuccessfully to Lucetta's to learn that she is gravely ill. When Henchard arrives back at his own home, Jopp informs him that an old sailor has paid him a visit, but Henchard pays it no heed.
Farfrae finally arrives back in Casterbridge, and Lucetta is comforted by his presence. Throughout a night of quiet discussion, Farfrae finally learns Lucetta's secret, though how much Lucetta tells him and how much he learns on his own is unclear. Nonetheless, Henchard paces the town that evening, worried and lost in thought. He pays several visits to Lucetta that evening, comforted by the sight of Elizabeth-Jane even if he cannot see the mistress of the house. But on his last visit, he learns the awful news - Lucetta has died.

Chapter 41

Henchard returns home sadly, and soon Elizabeth-Jane arrives to see him. Tired from her long night, she immediately falls asleep. While she is resting, a man knocks on the door, informing Henchard that he is the sailor Newson, come to see about his wife and daughter. He had been washed overboard, but he survived. Newson reflects on the past, telling Henchard the full story, which he already knew from Susan's letter about Elizabeth-Jane's real father.
Henchard, in the spur of the moment, tells Newson that Elizabeth-Jane is dead, like her mother. Newson leaves, no longer having a purpose for being in town, and Henchard is amazed at his actions. The recent days have brought him great emotions for his daughter, and he is threatened by the appearance of Newson to steal her away. But he expects his lie to be revealed soon enough, since Newson will surely return to investigate further. Henchard follows Newson but sees him board a cart leaving Casterbridge, but Henchard still fears his unmasking. He tries to justify the lie as he makes his way back home. Seeing Elizabeth-Jane warms his heart, and she agrees to come see him everyday.
But Henchard's guilt over his deception of Newson will not go away. He laments all his losses in life (Susan, Farfrae, Lucetta, and now probably Elizabeth-Jane) and he cannot bear it. He takes a walk to ease his mind and approaches a muddy river, where he appears to see an image of himself, drowned in the river! Henchard is mystified and saddened by this "miracle," and he returns home to see Elizabeth-Jane. He tells her to come back with him to the river, so that he may show her the miracle as well, but she logically concludes that it is the effigy from the skimmity-ride hastily tossed into the water to get rid of the evidence. Henchard is almost crazed at the memory, and the startled Elizabeth-Jane asks if she can live with Henchard to take care of him. Henchard is surprised at her kindness but accepts gratefully. Her presence invigorates him and he is like a new man in her care.

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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