Native Son Study Guide (Choose to Continue)


Native Son: Book 2 Chapters 1-4

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Book Second – ‘The Arrival’
Summary – Chapters One, Two, Three and Four
Chapter One begins with Humphrey and Sam building the furze-faggots into a stack for the Captain (Eustacia’s grandfather). Eustacia is inside and listens to the men talk about Clym and how he is educated and works as a diamond merchant in Paris.
One says how education gives people strange notions and the Captain says if Eustacia had less romantic notions it would be better for her. When he leaves, Sam observes that Eustacia and Clym would make ‘a very pretty pigeon-pair’.
The narrative shifts to Eustacia who, after listening for five minutes, is furnished with ‘visions enough to fill the whole blank afternoon’. She goes for a walk towards the Yeobright home at Blooms-End.
In Chapter Two, preparations are being made for Clym’s return. Thomasin and her aunt go out to cut holly and Mrs Yeobright tells her how Wildeve will repeat his offer as she has told him he has a rival (and says she will explain more when it is over). Thomasin then asks her not to mention to Clym about her would-be marriage as she does not want him to think less of her and her aunt agrees. They return home with the holly and leave again to meet Clym.
It is dark in Chapter Three and Eustacia is about to go home when Clym, Thomasin and Mrs Yeobright pass her. He says ‘goodnight!’ and her imagination is provoked; she returns home excited. She dreams of him that night, but is woken before she sees his face. She walks out several times in the hope she will meet him, but when she decides to give up Providence proves to be ‘coquettish’.
In Chapter Four, it is the 23rd December and Eustacia is at home alone lamenting the news that Clym is leaving some time next week. It is usual in provincial towns for people to meet at church, but in Egdon Heath the scattered inhabitants are parishioners in name but virtually do not belong to a parish.
There is a knock at the door and Charley has come to ask if they may use the fuel house to rehearse for the mummers as they have before, and she agrees to it. When they rehearse (the play of St George), Eustacia goes to the shed where she is able to watch them through a small hole and she hears them saying that Mrs Yeobright is having a party on Monday.
After they finish, she returns inside and Charley brings her the key. She asks him to come in and enquires about the part he is playing (of the Turkish Knight). She then asks him to repeat some lines and she begins where he ends. He is impressed by her and her ability to repeat the lines and she asks if he will let her play his part for one night. She offers him money to let her do it and to keep it secret, but he refuses. She asks what will do it and he says to let him hold her hand (which she refused him at the maypoling). She bargains him down to a quarter of an hour and a kiss of her hand too.
She thinks of playing this part as an object to live for and the next night Charley brings her the clothes, and she gives him his payment. He intends not to use his time up all in one go, having first used up six or eight minutes, but forgets himself the second time.
Analysis – Chapters One, Two, Three and Four
The dangers of the romantic imagination are made apparent in Chapter One when Captain Vye states that less romantic notions would be better for Eustacia. His perception of her is strengthened when she goes on to listen to the men talk of Clym and she becomes enchanted by the ideal of him. Her intensity is also emphasized when she begins to fixate on the idea of meeting him and comes to see the playing of the part in the mummers (and visiting the Yeobright home) as an object to live for


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