Native Son Study Guide (Choose to Continue)


Native Son: Book 1, Chapters 5-6

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Summary – Chapter Five and Six
Thomasin explains that she is not married because when they got there the parson said there was an irregularity with the licence. Her aunt says how she warned her he would not make her happy, but she must marry him after this. Thomasin replies she still wants to and he has said they can be married in a day or two and will return to her aunt’s (as she would have wanted). She explains she came back on her own as she was ‘very ill’ after the news of the marriage and was glad to see Diggory Venn and asked him for a lift.
Mrs Yeobright insists they go into the inn (which has the sign of a woman carrying her head under her arm) and when they do Wildeve explains the mix up with the licence.
Thomasin then speaks alone with him and asks if he still means to marry her and he says of course, on Monday. She says ‘then do let us go’ and adds that it should be him imploring her. She says that ‘she used to think it would be pretty and sweet like that’. He agrees that real life is never ‘like that’ and with a little dignity she tells him she could live without it but is thinking of her aunt and her cousin Clym. He says Clym will be unreasonable and adds ‘you are all rather unreasonable’ as he still has not recovered from the banns being forbidden. He says a harsher man would enjoy the power over her aunt and go no further with the wedding, but says he has no intention of behaving like this when he sees she is disturbed.
They hear the heath men singing their welcome at this point and Wildeve persuades the two women to stay (out of sight) while he manages them. The men congratulate him and he gives them mead. Fairway dominates the talk and after a silence notes the bonfire near Captain Vye’s house is still burning. They all look out of the window and do not notice that Wildeve has ‘disguised a brief, tell-tale look’. The men talk of the ‘lonesome dark-eyed creature’ who lives there and how some say she is a witch.
When the men finally leave, Wildeve returns to the women but finds they have already left by the window. He then takes a bottle of wine to a neighbor and when he comes out, he looks at the fire again and says to himself, ‘Yes – by Heaven, I must go to her, I suppose’ and heads towards it.
When the men leave the heath to go to the inn, the female returns to the barrow in Chapter Six. It is not clear why she is there or what she is doing, but she could be listening to the wind. She raises a telescope and looks through it to see into the inn. She then looks at her hourglass and sees the sand has run through it. She leaves at this point and heads to the fire the men noticed earlier.
A little boy (Johnny Nonsuch) has been keeping the fire going and he greets her (Miss Eustacia) with pleasure as he has not enjoyed being alone. Her grandfather appears, and it is the same man who walked with the reddleman earlier. He asks if she is coming inside as he thinks it is childish to play with bonfires, but her response shows she is ‘absolute queen’ there. When he goes in, she asks the boy to carry on feeding the fire. The boy is allowed to go when he thinks he hears a frog jump in the pond (as she says it means it will rain). The second time the noise is made it is explained that it is a stone being thrown, and Wildeve appears.
He tells her she gives him no peace and has seen her bonfire all evening. She asks how he knows this as she has had no word from him since he chose ‘her’ and he says how this time last year she lit a fire as a signal for him to come to her and she admits it. She knows he has not married ‘her’ and sees this as a sign of faithfulness. She did not light it thinking he was already married (as he presumed).
She throws the shawl back from her face and asks if he has seen anything better on his travels and he says no. She says how she has power over him as she has called him out. He points out that he saw her on Rainbarrow at dusk, and thinks he is the one who drew her out. When he leaves, it is explained that she knows he trifles with her but she loves on.
Analysis – Chapters Five and Six
Mrs Yeobright’s mistrust of Wildeve gains some foundation for the readers when it becomes apparent that he is still attracted to Eustacia Vye. The intrigue between these two is made all the more apparent with the series of signals and necessary spying that occurs between them.
Aspects of Eustacia’s character are also established in Chapter Six as she is described as being ‘absolute queen’ in her home and is seen to wander the heath with her telescope and hour glass. Her independence is made clear and this is tied to her ability to manipulate in order to achieve what she wants.


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