Native Son Study Guide (Choose to Continue)


Native Son: Book 1, Chapters 10-11

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Summary – Chapters Ten and Eleven
The next morning, Venn crosses the heath to the house of ‘the isolated beauty’ and meets her grandfather outside. He asks to see Eustacia and after being looked at for a few moments he is told to go inside. She is not yet up, and Venn asks for word to be sent to her to meet him if she is willing. After a considerable time, she goes out to him on the adjoining hill. They walk together and he says she has the power to drive trouble away from a household.
He tells of how Wildeve has been meeting another woman on the heath and he may refuse to marry Thomasin. He adds that she has so much sway over men-folk and could insist he marries Thomasin. She laughs and he uses a second argument, that she is more handsome than Thomasin (and he is lying when he says this) and she can persuade him. He then decides to be truthful and says he heard her talk to Wildeve at Rainbarrow. This is a ‘disconcerting lift of the curtain’ for Eustacia and she says she is unwell. He asks again that she gives him up and she refuses by saying she will not be beaten down by an inferior woman. From her point of view, Thomasin came between her and her ‘inclination’.
Venn then mentions how he heard her say she hates the heath and tells her of a position in Budmouth as a ‘company keeper’. She shows some interest but revolts at the thought of working and although she wants to return there, she does not want to give up her independence.
In Chapter Eleven, Venn leaves Eustacia with ‘desponding views on Thomasin’s future happiness’ but sees Mrs Yeobright and considers talking to her as an untried channel. He tells her Mr Wildeve is not the only man to propose to Thomasin and asks why another should not have the chance. When she glances at him, he says he is not red by birth and can turn his hand to something else. She explains that she and Thomasin think she must marry Wildeve so a shade will not be cast on her character.
She then talks to Wildeve and uses Venn’s proposal as a weapon. Wildeve is surprised that another has shown interest, and she declines to tell him the man’s name. She asks him to make a distinct declaration and he says he will write or call in a day or two.
That same evening he visits Eustacia. She comes out to his signal after he has waited for 20 minutes and wants to know why he has come now and not next Saturday as agreed. He eventually explains and she says he has come to her as he cannot get Thomasin. She calls herself a ‘stop-gap’ and thinks of it as a ‘humiliating victory’. When he asks her again about leaving with him, she says she wishes she hated the heath less and loved him more. He gives her another week and arranges to meet her on Monday week. After he leaves, she yawns and is at first ashamed of her dog in the manger disposition. Wildeve has become a superfluity, though.
At home, her grandfather tells her that Clym Yeobright is coming home and tells her he has been living in Paris.
Analysis – Chapters Ten and Eleven
Eustacia’s tie to Wildeve is seen to be considerably weakened when he reveals that Thomasin has another suitor. Eustacia’s attraction for him is immediately diluted and she sees his coming to her now as only a ‘humiliating victory’ given that she regards Thomasin as inferior to her.
The end of the final chapter in this first book gives a provisional introduction to Clym and the news that he is coming back home. Clym is the ‘native’ of the title and, therefore, the eponymous hero, and the detail that he has come back from Paris suggests at this early stage that he may symbolize all that Eustacia craves (given her hatred of the isolation of rural life).


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