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Free Barron's Booknotes-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte-Free Online Book Notes
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CHAPTER 30

In the meantime, Jane stays on with Diana and Mary. She quickly becomes fond of the sisters, who are not only kind and cheerful but have a lively interest in books and learning. St. John is another story. He strikes Jane as cold and withdrawn, always lost in his own thoughts. Only when she hears St. John preach a sermon in church does Jane catch a glimpse of a more fiery side to his nature.

A month goes by. Diana and Mary are getting ready to go back to their jobs as governesses with two fashionable and wealthy families. Jane gathers her courage to ask St. John whether he has found any work for her. In reply, St. John tells Jane about a charity school for poor children in Morton village. The school is supported by a Miss Oliver, the daughter of a wealthy factory owner. St. John has been teaching a class of boys. Would Jane be interested in teaching the girls?

The job St. John offers Jane is a step down from being a governess. She'll have to live very simply, and she won't have any chance to use her education in French and drawing. Her students will be just beginning to learn to read and write. After only a moment's thought, Jane decides to accept. At least she will have her independence.

St. John, however, predicts that Jane will not stay in Morton very long. You are "impassioned," he tells Jane. "Human affections and sympathies have a most powerful hold on you." He confesses that even he, a Christian minister, has felt restless and longed to escape the sleepy village of Morton.


Jane hardly knows what to think of this confession. She is even more confused when Diana and Mary hint that when they leave for their jobs again they may be saying good-bye to St. John for the last time. Sobbing, Mary tells Jane that she has tried and failed to talk her brother out of his "severe decision."

Before Jane can find out what that decision is, St. John comes back into the room carrying a letter. He reads out the news that their "Uncle John" is dead. Both he and the girls are disappointed to learn that their uncle, who quarreled with their father long ago, has left most of his money to another relative, who is unknown to them.

CHAPTER 31

On her first day as a charity school teacher, Jane is forced to keep reminding herself that her coarsely clad pupils are human beings, as good as the children of any aristocrat.

NOTE:

As much as Jane hates the social snobbery of people like Blanche Ingram, she has strong prejudices of her own. To her credit, she recognizes this fault and tries to overcome it. Decide for yourself how well she succeeds.

St. John visits Jane's modest cottage and encourages her to stay with the job. He tells her that it is possible to conquer one's natural desires through will-power, and to "turn the bent of [one's own] nature." By way of illustration, St. John confides that he has recently passed through a crisis of his own. Only a year earlier, he had come to the conclusion that he had made a mistake by entering the ministry. He was longing for a career in literature, politics, the army-anything that would offer more excitement than his religious duties. But after much soul searching, he has decided that his restlessness was a message from God, calling him to the life of an overseas missionary. Now, adds St. John, he has only "one last conflict with human weakness" to overcome before he is ready to leave for the orient.

At that moment, their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Miss Oliver, the young heiress whose money supports St. John's school. Jane is taken aback to discover that Rosamond Oliver is not only breathtakingly lovely, but also very obviously in love with St. John. It's not hard to guess the nature of St. John's conflict.

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