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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
Chapters 1 - 7
The main plot of the novel is introduced in the first chapter of Book One and an analogy is made to it being a feast. The author names the theme of the story: human nature. He intends to represent human nature initially in its plain and simple form as found in the country and later as it is in the courts and cities.
In the second chapter two major characters are introduced-- Squire Allworthy and his sister - Bridget Allworthy. They live in an estate in Somersetshire. The Squire's nature and fortune is praised and the past events in his life are outlined. He has lost both his wife and his infant children. He has a tender affection for his sister, who is described as a woman, who derides beauty. She portrays herself as a prudent woman.
In the third chapter, Squire Allworthy returns from London where he had been for a full quarter of a year on some particular business. When he is about to slip into his bed at night, he finds an infant wrapped in sheets lying there. He then orders an elderly woman servant to attend to him immediately. Mrs. Deborah Wilkins appears and she is shocked by what the Squire has found. She curses the hussy, who must have left this bastard here. But, the Squire orders her to take the infant away and look after it.
When Squire Allworthy departs in the fifth chapter, Miss Bridget shows great affection for the tiny kid and taking this as a cue, Mrs. Wilkins too fawns over the baby. Miss Bridget orders Mrs. Wilkins to arrange all provisions for the care of the child. Fielding suggests that Miss Bridget is kind to the child, in order to humor her brother and to be complaisant with him.
Mrs. Deborah is introduced into the parish with the simile of a kite in the sixth chapter. She is tyrannical over smaller people. She goes to an elderly matron to discuss who might be the mother of the abandoned baby. Their strongest suspicion falls on a young girl called Jenny Jones. A short account is made of Jenny Jones. This description is accompanied with an outlining of difficulties and discouragements that may attend young women in the pursuit of learning. She is a servant at a schoolmaster's house and had recently been seen quite often at Squire Allworthy's place. Mrs. Deborah summons Jenny and the girl confesses her guilt. All her fellow villagers insult her, but she bears all this patiently. Mrs. Deborah returns to Squire Allworthy and tells him her finding. He is surprised as he had formed a good opinion of Jenny. Jenny is then called to meet Squire Allworthy.
When Jenny appears, Squire Allworthy takes her to his study and proceeds to give her a long lecture on right and wrong. At the same time he also assures her that the child will be well looked after. Jenny replies with tears and promises to be a better person in future. She stubbornly refuses to reveal the name of the father, saying that she had made a solemn promise of secrecy. The Squire promises to help her get out of reach of the insults in her parish.