Jude returns to Melchester and throws himself into his religious studies. He starts to worry that he isn’t fit for the priesthood because of his tendency towards liquor and sexual desire. He develops an interest in music and starts singing in a local church choir. One day he is especially moved by a hymn called “The Foot of the Cross,” and he learns that it was written by a man from the nearby town of Kennetbridge. Jude resolves to find this composer, as he surely would understand his plight.
This chapter contains a small side venture where Jude’s idealism is again punctured by cruel reality. Jude tries to forget Sue by studying religion just as he tried to forget her by getting drunk. Hardy never wholly condemns Christianity, but he does show how people can come to religion for all the wrong reasons, which invalidates the religion even if it is the “correct” path.
Jude travels to Kennetbridge and visits the composer, but soon discovers that the man wrote music only for money, and is now going into the wine business instead. Jude leaves, feeling ashamed, and when he returns to Melchester he finds a note from Sue apologizing and inviting him to dinner. Jude writes back and they agree to meet a few days later, on Good Friday.
The composer is another example of religion gone about in the wrong way. In Hardy’s world, unique and sensitive characters like Jude and Sue will be eventually crushed by society and fate, and the greedy, narrow-minded characters (like the composer and Arabella) will thrive.