In Chapter II, I finished with my thought that Angel was a jerk.
We start chapter 3 finding out that Tess, although she had plenty of dance partners, was still thinking about Angel at the party. She was also still concerned about her father’s behavior and left the dance earlier then she might have otherwise.
Upon her return home we find Tess’ mother signing to her children while doing the wash and giving Tess “the look.” You know, the look your mother gives you when you didn’t get the psychic message that she wanted you home sooner.
Here we learn a bit about Joan Durbeyfield, firstly that she loves to sign. We also find out that she’s a pretty woman and of an ordinary breeding (as in not of an aristocratic breeding). Tonight she seems to be in a good mood. She generally doesn’t expect too much from her daughter in terms of helping with the household. Joan is a bit of an old worldly woman, believing in superstitions and folk-lore. This is in direct opposition to Tess who is well educated and contemporary.
We also learn about the Durbeyfield family: Tess is 16 and a half, there were two children who died as infants after her and then 12 and a half year old Liza Lu, 9 year old Abraham, 2 more girls (Hope and Modesty), a boy of 3 and a 1 year old baby. After describing this Hardy goes on about how they were all dependent on their parents and that if they choose to screw up their lives they’re taking the kids with them. It reminds me of when kids get all, “I didn’t ask to be born, stop torturing me with this stuff.” But coming from an adult narrator, it’s a bit depressing and foreshadows nothing good happening in this book.
Anyway, Joan is in a good mood tonight, it seems that she is buying this whole new status in society thing and she is no longer a Durbeyfield but a d’Urberville. And I had started to like her, but I guess it plays into her character that she likes traditions over new world thinking.
But then I had to laugh. So, Sir John went to Rolliver’s Inn to build up his strength for a long journey late tonight. I think we all know how well that works when you hit the bar before a big day of work… Tess was outraged and thought her mother had agreed to this ridiculous plan. But it turns out that Joan actually wants to go get her husband herself and that is the true reason that she was annoyed Tess came back so late, not because she needed help with the household. The reason that Joan wants to go? It’s her escape from the kids and a time when she likes to think of the man she fell in love with (instead of the man John is now.)
When they don’t return, Abraham is sent to find them. When none of them return another 30 minutes later, Tess leaves and the chapter closes.
Will Chapter IV be “Scandal at the Inn?”