Far From the Madding Crowd

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Far From the Madding Crowd Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On Sunday afternoon a number of men run up to the house and tell Bathsheba that 60 or 70 sheep have broken the fence and gotten into a field of clover: if they aren’t pierced on the side, they’ll all die. They’re all talking at once, and Bathsheba, who’s still uneasy from her talk with Gabriel, cries for them to be quiet, and with dark, shining eyes, orders them out to the sheep. They are lying down, many foaming at the mouth, and are lifted up and brought into the next field. Laban Tall says they can only be cured through the piercing, but if it’s an inch too far left or right they’ll die anyway. Only Gabriel knows how to do this, Poorgrass says, though Bathsheba orders them not to refer to him in her presence. She orders them to get someone to cure the sheep at once.
Another tragedy involving farm livestock arrives, recalling the tragedy of Gabriel’s dead sheep—though this time there’s still a chance to save the animals (and, with them, the substantial financial investment they represent). Once again, amid the disorder and disorganization of the farm hands, Gabriel emerges as a potential calming, authoritative figure that could solve the crisis (just as he took charge during a fire). Bathsheba’s pride, though, makes her reluctant to call upon the man she just sent away.
Themes
Epic Allusion, Tragedy, and Illusions of Grandeur Theme Icon
Pride and Penance Theme Icon
The first sheep dies, and Bathsheba grows increasingly agitated. Little by little, her conviction not to call Gabriel wanes. Finally, she asks Laban where he’s staying, and orders him to fetch Gabriel and return back. She waits for him anxiously, but soon Laban returns and says she must come civilly and ask him properly for him to return. Another sheep falls dead, and, her eyes full of tears of pride, she begins to cry. She writes a note, saying, “Do not desert me, Gabriel!” and reddens and she refolds it.
Bathsheba’s pride continues to clash with her distress and her recognition that Gabriel may be the only one to avert this natural crisis. Gabriel too, nonetheless, has some pride of his own; Bathsheba is forced to beg him, just as he once begged her, in order to succeed in convincing him to return to the farm and save the sheep.
Themes
Epic Allusion, Tragedy, and Illusions of Grandeur Theme Icon
Pride and Penance Theme Icon
15 minutes later, Gabriel returns. He looks at her, and Bathsheba, her eyes full of gratitude, still chastises him for his unkindness. He murmurs confusedly, and hastens onto the sheep. He manages to recover 57. Only four die. When he’s done, Bathsheba asks with a smile if he’ll stay on: he agrees.
Bathsheba may feel chastened, her pride laid low, but she’s unable to fully rid herself of such pride, instead maintaining it outwardly while relying on her charm to get what she wants.
Themes
Pride and Penance Theme Icon