Jude the Obscure

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Jude the Obscure Part 2, Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Jude learns that Sue goes to the church services of the Cardinal College, and he goes there to find her. He watches her and listens to the choir singing “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?” This reminds him of his disastrous marriage, which he now wishes he could undo. Again Jude refrains from approaching Sue.
Jude is reinforced in his idea of Sue as a conventional, religious woman. Jude and Hardy both seem to think in Biblical language, showing the ubiquity of Christianity even as Hardy critiques it.
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The narrative jumps back a few days, when Sue had a holiday and was walking through the country. She comes across a man selling sculptures of pagan gods, and she buys one of Venus and one of Apollo. Sue nervously wraps them up and brings them back to Christminster, “the most Christian city in the country.” She takes them up to her room and is then approached by Miss Fontover, her elderly landlady.
The book now expands to include its second protagonist, the fascinating character Sue Bridehead. Contrary to Jude’s first impression of her, we first see Sue rebelling against the Christianity of her surroundings by buying pagan statues and secreting them into her room.
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Miss Fontover asks Sue about the package she is carrying, and Sue lies and says she bought statues of St. Peter and St. Mary Magdalene. After Miss Fontover leaves Sue unwraps the statues and places them on her dresser with a candle between them. A picture of Jesus on the cross ironically hangs over the idols. Sue reads some poetry (about Jesus’s breath turning the world gray) and then falls asleep.
We see that Sue is anything but conventional already, as she is well-read, rebellious, and religiously unorthodox. At the same time Hardy still lets her slip into some Victorian female stereotypes – he makes her very emotional, high-strung, and inconsistent.
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