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Chapters 5 and 6

Chapter 5

They walk to the town's largest hotel, the King's Arms, and through the window, they see a dinner banquet with the mayor of Casterbridge, Mr. Henchard, in the prime seat. Elizabeth-Jane observes that the mayor has a strange laugh and her mother notices that his two wine glasses remain empty. Susan is content to see that her first husband has matured greatly, in age and physical appearance. The younger woman is surprised that now that they have found their relation, the older is intent on leaving without any further interaction.
Elizabeth-Jane is fascinated with the mayor and insists on remaining in town to befriend him. She learns from a bystander that the mayor's abstinence from strong liquors is owing to an oath he made years ago whose hold on him will end shortly in a few years. Moreover, the townspeople tell her that Henchard is the most powerful member of the town council and privy to all the largest agricultural transactions. But she also learns of the current misfortune: Henchard's wheat being of poor quality of late. Several concerned citizens question the mayor about the bad crop, to which Henchard replies that he is himself a victim like his customers. He tries to appease the crowd by promising that once his new corn manager arrives, mistakes of this type will no longer occur. He further attests that if he could turn grown wheat into wholesome wheat, he would, but since it is impossible, nothing can be done about the situation.

Chapter 6

Outside the tavern, a stranger appears: a young pleasant-looking man with a Scottish accent carrying a bag containing several articles. On hearing Henchard's last remarks, the stranger writes a note that is delivered to the mayor, and then he subsequently makes his way to the lesser hotel, the Three Mariners, to pass the night. Elizabeth-Jane sees that Henchard is intrigued by the contents of the note but takes no action presently, only continuing the festivities of the evening. The mother and daughter decide to head to the Three Mariners also to find lodging.
Immediately after they leave, the mayor also departs in search of the Scotsman who has written him the note. The inn, where all three of Casterbridge's newest arrivals can be found, is old but homely with a narrow passage for entrance. Henchard pauses momentarily before entering, trying to make his gentlemanly appearance more ordinary for the company.

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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