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Native Son: Book 5 Chapters 1-3

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Book Fifth – ‘The Discovery’
Summary – Chapters One, Two and Three
Three weeks after Mrs Yeobright’s funeral, Humphrey asks Eustacia how Clym is this evening and if he still raves about his mother. She says just as much, but not quite so wildly.
She goes back into the house to Clym who is lying pale and drawn in bed. He says how he feels he killed his mother and wishes he had shown himself willing to make up with her sooner. Eustacia still has not told him the truth, and he is still tortured by his mother’s last words as told to him by Johnny. He says he has sinned against her.
Not long after, Thomasin visits and she implores him not to berate himself so. He says it would be better if he died, for him and Eustacia, and cannot understand why his mother did not come to him. Thomasin comforts him and reminds him how he found her after she spoke to the boy. She also says his mother could speak in haste.
Wildeve calls for Thomasin and Eustacia goes downstairs to him. She confides that she still has not told Clym the truth and he tells her to wait till he is better, and asks her not to inform him of his presence in the house. Wildeve then murmurs, ‘if he were only to die –‘. She tells him not to think of it and says she would not buy her immunity with ‘so cowardly a desire’ – even if she hated him.
In Chapter Two, Clym’s grief is eased with it wearing itself out. His strength returns but he is unnaturally silent about the past relating to his mother. He is in the garden when Christian approaches and tells him Thomasin has had a baby girl. He then tells Clym that his mother had been coming to see him on the day she died and Venn knows more about this.
The next day Clym goes to his mother’s house to overlook the contents and to consider moving in. While there, Venn calls and asks for Mrs Yeobright and had not known she was dead as he has been away for a while. Venn tells him his mother had undoubtedly been coming to see him and had forgiven him. Because of this, Clym cannot understand why her last words were so bitter.
He stays the night thinking about what he has been told and decides to talk to Johnny Nonsuch. He goes to his home the next morning and discovers his mother was walking home from Alderworth (where Clym lives). Johnny also tells him that he first saw her outside his house and saw her notice a man go inside, and it was not Clym. He describes Mrs Yeobright knocking and how she saw Eustacia look out of the window. The old lady set off for home after noting Clym’s furze hook left outside. Clym leaves after saying, ‘may all murderesses get the torment they deserve’ and is compared to Oedipus.
Clym returns home in Chapter Three and enters his wife’s room. He stands behind her at the mirror and she sees his haggard face and he is close enough to see her face blanche. He says it is extraordinary that she is alone and refers to the day his mother died. He seizes her sleeve and she offers a proud smile and talks as though she expects him to kill her.
He says he will not make a martyr of her and send her to where his mother is. Eustacia refuses to tell him the man’s name and refuses to open her writing desk. He dashes it to the floor and the only suspicious thing he finds is an envelope with Wildeve’s handwriting on. He guesses it could be him, but she does not say. She refuses to offer a defence and says Clym is nothing to her in the future (and he has already said he will leave her). She accuses him of deceiving her – not with words but with appearances.
She then cries and he says how he was bewitched by her. She admits that when his mother came she wilfully did not answer the door, but the second time she would have done except she thought he was doing so.
She tells him she will leave and he ties her bonnet for her as her hands are quivering so violently. He says he will pity her when she confesses the man’s name, and she leaves.
The servant comes to Clym not long after to say Thomasin’s baby has been named Eustacia Clementine. Clym describes this as a mockery in that his unhappy marriage has been perpetuated in the child’s name.
Analysis – Chapters One, Two and Three
This fifth book is entitled ‘The Discovery’ and traces how Clym discovers at least some of the truth about his mother’s visit to his home on the day she died. The secrets and intrigue that have been seen to fuel the earlier relationship between Eustacia and Wildeve come to a head as Wildeve’s visit to her home is reported back to Clym by Johnny Nonsuch. It is ironic that this secret visit suggested guilt, in terms of adultery, but was little more than Wildeve pursuing the ideal, distant woman who is no longer expressing an interest in him.


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