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MonkeyNotes-Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
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Chapter 39

The road between Casterbridge and Weatherbury crosses Yalbury Hill. It is the custom for farmers and people in light carriages to walk up the hill so as to ease the horses' burden up the slope. On a Saturday evening in October, Bathsheba and Troy are returning from the market and make their way up the hill. Inside the carriage, Bathsheba guides the horse even as Troy walks besides her. Bathsheba appears quite depressed, but Troy is very happy. He blames the weather for his losses at Casterbridge. Bathsheba reminds him that his losses resulted from horse betting. She wants him to promise her that he will stay away from the races at Budmouth. Troy refuses to do so and even complains that he is disappointed in her attitude.

Nearing the top of the hill, they see a woman walking along the road. Just as Troy is getting ready to climb into the carriage, the woman asks him if he knows the closing time of the workhouse called Casterbridge Union. Troy seems to recognize her voice, but does not show any reaction and answers in the negative. She too recognizes his voice and immediately faints on the road. He jumps down and tells Bathsheba that she should carry on, and he will attend to the fainting woman. Troy revives Fanny and then asks questions gently about what she has been up to. She tells him that she has been afraid to write and admits that she has no money. Troy gives her the little money that he has and expresses regret for not being able to help her. He promises to give her some money on Monday morning. He also promises to take care of Fanny and apologizes for having abandoned her. Back in the carriage, Troy admits to knowing the woman. He does not, however, admit her name to Bathsheba and refuses to explain any further.


Notes

Fate comes into play in this chapter once again. As Bathsheba and Troy are returning from Casterbridge, they pass a lonely figure on the road. The figure is Fanny Robin, who has not been seen in the book for many chapters. But she will now serve as a disruption to the marriage of Bathsheba and Troy. Already, the differences between Bathsheba and Troy are widening. The scene where Bathsheba rides alone in the carriage as Troy walks symbolizes their future separation. Troy's true nature is that he puts on the air of a country gentleman even as he wastes away money in gambling. Troy has no consideration for Bathsheba's feelings regarding their future or for her feelings as a woman. He is too much of a coward to tell Bathsheba the truth about Fanny. This piece of deceit will soon have tragic consequences for all three of them. Troy shows some awareness of his faults when he helps Fanny and promises to do more.

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MonkeyNotes-Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

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