Harvest

by

Jim Crace

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Harvest: Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next morning, with the village empty, Master Jordan is pleased. He invites Walter into the manor house and feeds him breakfast while asking him about the state of affairs in the village. When Walter reveals that everyone has left, Jordan laughs and announces that “the meek shall inherit the world,” referring to his sheep.
Here, Master Jordan quotes the Bible but inverts the proverb’s meaning. He’s the one who has “inherited” and gained control over the village, but he’s far from meek. The Biblical verse promises recompense to the poor and suffering, but Jordan profits by harming those who are already vulnerable.
Themes
Progress and Dispossession Theme Icon
Wanting to ask his own questions without associating himself with the imprisoned “witches,” Walter says that he’s worried Master Kent will be “deposed,” showing his loyalty to his old master. Jordan reassures Walter that Master Kent will be taken care of. Jordan lectures Walter on his principles of “Progress, Profit, and Enterprise.” He wants to turn the village, which has always produced just enough to survive, into a sheep farm that will waste nothing and produce a large profit for him. Now that the villagers left, he says, the land “has returned to the Lord,” by which he means himself.
Jordan continues to use religious rhetoric to advance and justify his own self-interested agenda. While the village rituals that preceded Jordan created and sustained a fairly egalitarian and communal atmosphere, Jordan’s Christianity is just another mechanism by which he facilitates the dispossession of his dependents.
Themes
Progress and Dispossession Theme Icon
Religion and Ritual Theme Icon
Innocently, Walter asks where Mr. Quill is. Jordan doesn’t respond but only remarks that his cheek is very bruised, and that he hopes he won’t incur any more injuries. Walter looks at Master Kent, who is strangely composed, evidently resigned to “progress of a sort.”
Jordan speaks of “progress” in unequivocally positive terms, but when Walter uses the word he does so with marked ambivalence about its merits.
Themes
Progress and Dispossession Theme Icon
Jordan informs Walter that he and Master Kent will leave today, taking the prisoners with them. He wants Walter to stay behind as his agent, since Mr. Baynham has left to acquire sheep and hired men. He makes Walter promise not to let the young man out of the pillory until his allotted sentence is over, and tells him to prepare the horses for their journey.
Jordan’s meticulous adherence to the enforcement of an unjust punishment serves to highlight his differences from Master Kent. His leadership style is morally bankrupt, but it also allows him to exert control over his surroundings and quickly vanquish his cousin.
Themes
Progress and Dispossession Theme Icon
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Master Kent accompanies Walter to the orchard, where the horses are tethered; Walter says he and his master could be “mistaken for equals,” since they look so similar. Master Kent says that Jordan became less interested in his captives after the villagers fled, and he was able to argue successfully on their behalf. If Walter agrees to watch over his land and wait for the sheep, he will release them, but not on his own land, where “their greatest sorcery has been to make the clock stand still.” Instead, he’ll let them go in a town several days away, and Master Kent will accompany them as a witness.
Walter’s similarity to Master Kent recalls the time when class distinctions mattered little to village life. Under Jordan’s new rule, Walter can never have the same relationship with the man whom he’s followed his entire life. It’s ironic that Jordan describes the continuity fostered in the village negatively as “sorcery,” when this is exactly the thing both Walter and Master Kent most value in their home.
Themes
Renewal and Decay Theme Icon
Individuals and the Community Theme Icon
Religion and Ritual Theme Icon
Master Kent says he will never return to the village, and hugs Walter fiercely. Walter imagines a bird flying over the village, seeing its various animals and the “two gray heads swirling in a lovers’ dance” within the orchard.
Walter is envisioning the village as an outsider, just as he did when viewing Mr. Quill’s maps. Although he’s still deeply invested in the village, he’s unable to see himself as completely immersed in it and has gained an unwelcome consciousness of the outside world.
Themes
Renewal and Decay Theme Icon