Notes on Return of the Native Themes

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Return of the Native Topic Tracking: Heath Customs

Heath Customs 1: On the night of November 5th, the heath-folk gather furze and make them into bonfires. All across the heath, bonfires can be seen, the light from the fire shining brightly against the night sky. Once the heath-folk light the first bonfire on Rainbarrow, the other heath inhabitants light their own fires.

Heath Customs 2: The villagers gather around the bonfires, sing, and dance wildly. The tradition of lighting bonfires on November 5th is a holiday for the heath-folk. This holiday tradition is a celebrated custom of Egdon Heath, a custom which Eustacia Vye detests.

Heath Customs 3: Some children of the heath believe that reddlemen have connections to the devil. Johnny Nunsuch is no exception; he is scared of Diggory Venn and gives as much information as he can about Eustacia Vye before he can finally leave and feel safely out of the reddleman's reach.

Heath Customs 4: Another heath custom is the Christmas mummers' play performed every year. Eustacia usually despises the Christmas mumming, as she does with every heath custom, but this year she is interested in it, once she hears that the first Christmas performance is at the Yeobrights'. That the mummers are masked completely means that Eustacia can scheme to find a way to perform as a mummer and spy on Clym.

Heath Customs 5: Thomasin braids her hair in seven strands on her wedding day. She and the other heath-women braid their hair according to the importance of the day (the more important the day, the more strands in the braid).

Heath Customs 6: The heath-men gather at Timothy Fairway's place for their weekly hair-cutting. The hair-cutting custom is another tradition that the heath-folk cherish and value.

Heath Customs 7: Susan Nunsuch believes that Eustacia is bewitching her son. To exorcize the bad spirit of Eustacia, she sticks a needle in Eustacia's arm during church.

Heath Customs 8: The bucket-fetching process is yet another important heath custom. When Captain Vye's bucket has fallen into the well, the heath-men gather rope from their homes and lower the men into the well with the rope tied around them.

Heath Customs 9: The raffle at the Quiet Woman Inn is a heath tradition the men participate in. They each put a shilling in the raffle and one man wins the money for his sweetheart.

Heath Customs 10: Furze-cutting is an important tradition to the heath-folk. Many men cut and gather furze for bonfires, but Eustacia and Mrs. Yeobright are horrified and ashamed that Clym becomes a cutter.

Heath Customs 11: The gipsying is a custom the villagers enjoy heartily. The heath-folk very much enjoy singing, dancing, and socializing; this gipsying, which is a picnic and dance, allows them the chance to take advantage of the heath landscape.

Heath Customs 12: The villagers make a remedy for Mrs. Yeobright's adder wound. The remedy consists of boiling the oil of a freshly-killed adder and applying it to the wound. Clym is doubtful that the remedy will work, but applies it because he trusts the villagers.

Heath Customs 13: Susan Nunsuch makes a voodoo effigy of Eustacia and inflicts pain on the effigy by sticking needles in it and then melting it--with satisfaction. Susan wants to counteract the evil curse she believes Eustacia set on her ailing son.

Heath Customs 14: The May-pole revel is a favorite tradition of the heath-folk. Thomasin especially takes delight in the beautiful flowers and the sight of the May-pole. Thomasin's delight and happiness at the May-pole revel coincides with her uplifted and cheerful spirits.

Heath Customs 15: The heath-folk celebrate Thomasin and Venn's wedding with certain heath customs: they make a fresh feather-bed for the newlyweds and they serenade them.

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