In chapter XXXVIII Tess goes home and finds out her parents are still morons and decides to leave and go out on her own.
In chapter XXXIX 3 weeks have passed since the wedding. Angel has been desolate these last weeks and is just going through the motions. He worries that Tess’ status as a d’Urberville kind of jinxed her and if he should have known better he wouldn’t have gotten involved with her based on her heritage. But at the heart of the issue is that intellectually he shouldn’t be so bothered, but he is. He starts to consider going to Brazil, setting up a life and sending for Tess later.
Angel finds himself visiting his parents’ home. Mom and Dad Clare are surprised by the visit and the lack of wife with him. He says that Tess went to visit her mother.
Mom says that even though they were reticent about the marriage, they have accepted it and would like to meet Tess. Oh, and what the heck is going on?
Angel just says that he thought it best not to bring her around yet and that she’ll stay with her parents when he goes to Brazil. Hey Angel, you could tell your parents the truth about her and they would probably treat her better than her own family! Ok, I might be overestimating things.
Mom though is truly interested in Tess and asks Angel to describe her, with emphasis on her being pure and virtuous. He says of course she is and goes on to describe her.
Dad then jumps in with a reading before prayer, a chapter of Proverbs in praise of a virtuous wife. Oh, geez, Hardy really knows how to lay it on thick! On the verge of tears Angel excuses himself to bed shortly after that.
Mom realizes something is off and goes to Angel to offer solace. She tells him that as long as she is pure they can work through all their issues. Thanks Mom!
Later that night Angel considers that no matter how well-meaning he has been and how much independent judgment he has tried to exercise, he is still the product of his conventional early teachings. In other words, as much as he wants to be forward thinking, he’s just not. He can’t look past this one thing and see the whole woman that she really is.