After leaving Aldbrickham Jude and Sue lead an almost nomadic lifestyle, moving from town to town and working. Almost three years pass by in this way. Jude comes to reject any church-related work, as he recognizes that it would be hypocritical considering his current situation, and he wants nothing to do with those who condemn him. By now he has lost all religious faith.
In contrast to the extended settings of earlier sections, Jude and Sue are now forced to wander about in search of places that will accept them. As soon as someone learns of their “sinful” lifestyle they are unwelcome in that town. Jude has now fully reconciled his religious beliefs with his actions by giving up his Christian belief.
One day Arabella arrives at the Kennetbridge spring fair dressed in mourning. She sees Sue there selling cakes with Little Father Time, and Arabella approaches them, saying that she is mourning her husband Cartlett. Arabella questions Sue about Jude, and Sue reveals that they are still living together. They have two children and Sue is pregnant with another, though she feels almost guilty for this, as it is a “terribly tragic thing to bring beings into the world.”
Arabella has lost her husband now, so she is a free agent who can return to antagonize Jude. Though Jude and Sue have continued in their convictions, their “Greek joyousness” has been crushed by Victorian society to the point that they are pessimistic about bringing children into such a cruel, judgmental world.
Sue says that Jude became ill doing stonework, so now he makes cakes in the shape of colleges – which they call Christminster cakes – and Sue sells them. Arabella comments that Jude can never let go of Christminster. Sue says that though they are scorned by society, their lives were happy until Jude’s illness. Arabella says that she has started going to church, and has found comfort in religion.
Jude still has not escaped his fascination with Christminster, though he has returned to Drusilla’s occupation of baking. Sue speaks of the couple’s happiness, but never seems to have fully experienced it. Hardy now starts to show how religion can be used for less-than-holy purposes – in Arabella’s case, it is a quick balm for her grief.