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MonkeyNotes-Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
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Chapter 38

Dawn breaks and Gabriel is still busy at his task. He weights down some of the thatching on the wheat, just as the heavy rain begins. Oak, totally drenched, returns to finish the job of protecting the barley. As he works, he remembers that it was at the same spot, eight months earlier that he had worked to save the ricks from catching fire. Finally at s seven o'clock, Oak finishes. He is weary, but content that he has done a good act for Bathsheba. In the barn the merry makers from the previous night start stirring and heading homeward. None of the men, including Troy, is even slightly concerned about the danger of the rain for the harvest.

Gabriel meets Boldwood on his way home. When Gabriel tells him that he looked different, Boldwood insists that he is well. Gabriel inquires whether Boldwood's harvest and ricks are safe. Boldwood at first seems distracted, but he finally admits that his ricks were left uncovered and he appears indifferent to the loss. Boldwood's reply makes Gabriel realize what a shattering effect Bathsheba's marriage has had on him. Gabriel tries to console Boldwood, who breaks down and confesses to Gabriel that he has lost faith in God's mercy. He attempts to control himself and assures Gabriel that he will recover from his loss and soon forget it all; however, he asks Gabriel not to mention their meeting and conversation.


Notes

Gabriel's closeness to nature allows him to successfully predict the storm and protect the crop. Boldwood is not gifted with an understanding of nature in the same manner of Oak. He allows his farm to suffer and makes no effort to cover his crops. In the same manner, he refuses to adjust to the reality about Bathsheba. His sadness over her loss is permeating his whole being; it has taken away his will to act and it shows in his pained expressions.

The chapter underlines Oak's uniqueness as a farm worker by his contrast to the complete disregard the workers show for the uncovered ricks. He is the only man on the farm who is in tune with and appreciates the fullness of nature. True to the name of Oak, he has a unique strength and can bend before the wind and not be destroyed. An adverse situation only helps to bring out the very best in his character.

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MonkeyNotes-Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

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