The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy - Volume 8 Summary & Analysis

This Study Guide consists of approximately 31 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy.
This section contains 551 words
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Volume 8 Summary

Volume 8 continues with the tale of Toby and Widow Wadham. Tristram is still wandering South of France on his mule, but Tristram continues the story because he feels that not to tell the story would be a disservice to his Uncle and the reader. As Tristram hinted in the previous volume, Toby did not realize his love for the widow until Susannah points out to Toby that he loves the widow. In fact, Toby is the last to know of his feelings.

Tristram starts from the very beginning of the affair when Toby and Trim move to the country. When they initially arrive, the house is not ready, so Toby moves in with the widow for a few days. The widow quickly falls in love with Toby, but he is too involved with reenacting battles to take any notice. However, the widow does not give up and over many years, she works her way into Toby's sentry. When the war is over, rendering Toby's hobby useless, he finally can give his attention to falling in love.

The day it happens, Trim is telling Toby a story about the King of Bohemia. However, Toby interrupts his story and ruins his train of thought so much that Trim never gets to tell the tale. Instead, Trim describes his knee injury and the nurse that gave back his health. Trim is explaining he fell in love with the nurse when Widow Wadham walks onto the scene. She tells Toby she has something in her eye. As Toby looks in vain, he suddenly notices her eyes are beautiful.

Toby tells Trim he has fallen in love, and they concoct an approach to the widow akin to a battle maneuver. The story gets to Tristram's father and mother, who are both mildly amused. Tristram's father knows his brother does not have much knowledge of women, so Tristram's father writes Toby a letter explaining how to deal with the opposite sex. Tristram's father and mother both go to Toby's house to deliver the letter just as he about to see the widow and declare his love.

Volume 8 Analysis

After the aura of death in the previous volume, Tristram returns to the more light-hearted fare of his Uncle's battle fortifications. However, he returns to this scene having given the novel new meaning. It feels as though he is returning to Toby simply because other aspects of his life are too depressing. This gives a darker element to what the reader could otherwise dismiss as a return to the bawdy humor of earlier volumes.

In fact, the novel is now so over the top that, combined with the darker elements, it is beginning to feel like an avant garde work, i.e., a work ahead of its time. For example, throughout a number of chapters, Trim tries to tell a story about King Bohemia, but Toby keeps interrupting. Tristram constantly returns to Trim's story under headings such as King Bohemia continued, but Toby continues to interrupts. In the end, the story hardly gets to begin before they move on. The narrator experiements with form throughout the book, but here his digressions are beginning to communicate themselves within the narrative of Toby's story, preparing the reader for the avant garde storytelling in the final volume.

This section contains 551 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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