Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
On a dark, gloomy, and snowy night, Fanny reaches the barracks in a small town north of Weatherbury. There is not a soul in sight, and the only noise is the muffled sound of the bell striking ten o'clock. Fanny tosses snowballs at Sergeant Troy's window from across the river where she is standing. Sergeant Troy is not really enthused to see Fanny. He expresses surprise that she has followed him. Fanny questions Troy about the arrangements that he has made for them to be married. In reply, Troy brings up many trivial reasons for his failure to do anything regarding their marriage. He pretends to be unaware of the legal requirements for the calling of banns. Fanny is disappointed that he has not gotten his commanding officer's permission. He tells her that her visit is a total surprise to him and promises to meet her at Mrs. Twill's in North Street the next day. Fanny leaves, and as she goes, the sound of laughter can be heard. Fanny does perhaps not hear it because of the noise created by the tiny whirlpools outside.
Hardy's style in this chapter, as always, is very significant. He creates an atmosphere of gloom and darkness, alerting the reader that the scene to follow is not a pleasant one. It is the second time the reader has seen Fanny Robin, and both appearances are in the darkness of night. Sergeant Troy is presented for the first time in this chapter.
The dialogue between Fanny Robin and Sergeant Troy is noteworthy for the accuracy of its tone. It is also significant because, through their dialogue, the reader understands the nature and relationship of these two individuals. Sergeant Troy is shown as an undependable man; he cannot be trusted to keep his word. Fanny, however, is in desperate circumstances due to her pregnancy. Hardy shows the pathos of her situation as a woman in a society that condones men's sexuality and ostracizes women for theirs. Without marriage, Fanny has no place; sadly, she is completely at the mercy of a man who has clearly used her for sex and lied to her about marriage. Through Hardy's descriptions, the reader is made to feel sympathy for Fanny and her circumstances. Each time she is seen in the novel, she is either traveling to find Troy or waiting to meet him. She is, indeed, leading a very difficult existence.