Jude returns to his room to find Sue dressed and ready to leave. She is suddenly worried what Phillotson will think of her for running away from the Training College. Sue decides to take a train to stay with a friend at Shaston until the scandal of her exit dies down. Jude accompanies her to the train station, and as she leaves Sue says she knows Jude is in love with her, but he is only allowed to like her, not love her.
Sue is brilliant and progressive, but Hardy still indulges some stereotypes about women in her characterization. She is very fickle, emotional, and changes her mind seemingly at random. This is bad news for Sue when an institution like marriage can turn an impulsive decision into a lifetime of suffering.
Jude goes home, depressed, but the next morning he gets a letter from Sue saying that he can love her if he wants to. Jude is greatly encouraged by this, and he writes back to Sue but receives no answer. He gets worried and goes to visit Sue in Shaston. He finds her and she tells Jude that the Training College won’t take her back, and that there are “vulgar” rumors about their relationship. The administration had suggested that Sue marry Jude to save her reputation.
This will become a pattern where Sue immediately changes her mind after speaking with Jude, and then informs him of her new decision by letter. As a further critique of marriage, Hardy shows how society presents this supposed lifelong declaration of love as a kind of apology for a scandal.
Jude discusses his forbidden love for Sue, and the narrator comments that he ought to kiss her, but he does not. Jude instead chooses to “dwell upon the recognized barriers between them.” Sue says that they ought not to see each other anymore, and Jude leaves unhappily. The next morning Sue apologizes in another note, saying that she acted cruelly and wants to meet with Jude again.
Jude’s heart is now wholly in Sue’s hands, and he will suffer greatly (like the undergraduate before him) because of her fickle nature. Hardy heightens the tragedy of his story by both emphasizing how Jude and Sue are “meant for each other” while also reinforcing the many barriers between them—they are meant for each other but society makes it impossible for them to be together.