Jude the Obscure - Study Guide Part Fourth, At Shaston: Chapters 1-6 Summary & Analysis

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Part Fourth, At Shaston: Chapters 1-6 Summary

Chapter 1. Jude comes for a visit one day and finds Sue in the schoolhouse. Mr. Phillotson is gone for the day, so Sue suggests they have their tea in the schoolhouse. Jude plays for Sue the song that so impressed him on the piano. Then they begin to talk and Jude accuses Sue of treating him in the same flirtatious way she treated her scholar. Sue and asks Jude to leave. However, once he is outside, she speaks kindly toward him because she feels safer having him at a distance. Jude goes to the train station but learns that the train will not come for a while, so he walks around the village, finding himself standing outside Sue's house and wondering if it is him she is thinking of.

Chapter 2. Sue writes to him and asks him to not come see her anymore because it is too difficult. A short time later, Jude learns that his aunt has taken a bad turn. Before Jude can get to Marygreen, his aunt has died. Jude writes to Sue and she comes to the funeral alone. After the funeral, Jude tells Sue that he wishes she had not married Mr. Phillotson. Jude then admits that Arabella came back and he saw her. Sue becomes upset and they have a long discussion about their feelings for one another. However, when Jude comes to embrace Sue, she pushes him away and leaves the house. During the night, Jude hears a rabbit caught in a trap and goes to put it out of its misery. Sue tells him if he had not done it, she would have. It is then that Sue admits she did not fully understand what marriage would mean and that she wishes she had not married Mr. Phillotson.

Chapter 3. Jude thinks about Sue's confession all night. When Jude walks Sue to the train station, she allows him to kiss her. This changes everything and Jude decides to burn his religious books. Jude has come around to Sue's way of thinking about the church and their stand on marriage, causing him to turn his back on the religion he thought would be his salvation. At the same time, Sue returns to Phillotson and tells him that she let Jude hold her hand. Mr. Phillotson is not angry with her. However, that night Sue sits down in the kitchen rather than sleep in the same bed with Phillotson. The following night Sue makes herself a bed in the downstairs closet. Finally Sue asks Phillotson if he would consider allowing her to leave the marriage and live with Jude. At first Phillotson thinks she is joking and then he becomes saddened. However, Phillotson agrees to allow Sue to live separate from him in the house, but not to go to her lover.

Chapter 4. One night Phillotson stays up late and forgets that he no longer sleeps in the master bedroom with Sue. Phillotson goes into the room where Sue lies sleeping and begins to undress. Suddenly Sue leaps out of bed and jumps out of the window. Phillotson finds her and discovers that she is not injured. Sue tries to spare his feelings by suggesting she jump out of the window in her sleep, but he knows the truth. The following day Phillotson visits a friend to tell him that he is going to allow Sue to live with her lover so that at least one person might understand his motives. This man disagrees with his decision and warns him that he could place his position with the school in danger. Phillotson insists it is the moral thing to do, however, to make his wife happy. Phillotson tells Sue the news and arranges for her to go to Melchester. Phillotson wants to give her money and furniture, but Sue insists on only taking her few belongings.

Chapter 5. Jude meets Sue at the train and boards it again quickly to travel with her to Aldbrickham so that they will not run into anyone who knows them. When Sue learns that Jude has taken a single room in an inn, she is scandalized and insists that they not share a room. For this reason, when they reach the station at Aldbrickham, they ask a young man to show them to an inn that is still open that late at night. They are taken to the same inn where Jude stayed with Arabella, but he does not realize it until after the maid has told Sue of his previous visit there. Sue becomes angry and accuses Jude of terrible things even though he was legally Arabella's husband at the time. Jude pledges his love for Sue before leaving her for the night.

Chapter 6. When word gets out of what Mr. Phillotson has allowed his wife to do, a meeting of the school managers is called. Mr. Phillotson is asked to resign, but he refuses. They tell Mr. Phillotson he is fired, but he protests and a public meeting is called. Many in the town feel that Mr. Phillotson does not have the moral character to teach their children, but many of the itinerants support Mr. Phillotson, causing a fight to break out between the two sides. Afterward, Phillotson becomes ill and his friend sends for Sue. Sue arrives and visits with him. Phillotson asks Sue to come back to him after she tells him that Arabella has asked for a formal divorce from Jude. Sue refuses. A short time later, Mr. Phillotson decides to obtain a divorce from Sue as well.

Part Fourth, At Shaston: Chapters 1-6 Analysis

Jude finally confesses his love to Sue and she admits to being unhappy in her marriage. Sue allows Jude to kiss her, but she returns to her husband with every intention to be a good wife. This breaks Jude's heart and he turns on his religious teachings, teachings he has always held dear, because they appear to be what has led Sue directly into this unhappy life. Sue has always been against religion and has always tried to turn Jude to her way of thinking and now she finally has. Now Jude has no future but a future filled with loneliness as he pines after the woman he loves.

Sue returns to Phillotson and confesses her unhappiness, asking him to allow her to live with Jude. Phillotson at first refuses, but soon sees how unhappy Sue is and agrees to allow her to leave. This, however, changes Phillotson's life because it makes the people in his village believe he is not moral enough to teach their children. For this reason, Phillotson loses not only his wife, but his job as well. Phillotson has done what he thinks is a moral thing, but it turns out to be the worst thing he could do for himself.

Sue goes to Jude, but she refuses to share a room with him despite a fit of jealousy when she learns that he shared a room with Arabella the night of their chance encounter. This is important because the reader already knows that Sue lived with a man for more than a year without becoming intimate with him; therefore, the reader is left to wonder if Sue will do the same to Jude. This will cause some friction between them despite the fact that they are finally now together. At the same time, Arabella asks for a divorce and Phillotson decides to offer one, a fact that could leave both Jude and Sue free to marry one another.

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