Jude the Obscure

Jude the Obscure

Jude the Obscure Part 6, Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
More months pass and summer arrives, and Jude nears death. One afternoon he falls asleep as Arabella is getting ready to go out. She hears a festival outside, and she leaves Jude even though Donn hasn’t arrived to watch him yet. It is Remembrance Week again, and all the college dons and undergraduates are being celebrated. Arabella joins the festivities.
Hardy builds up the melodrama, as Jude spends his dying day listening to those lucky, conventional, upper-class men celebrate the university education that Jude deserved but was denied.
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Jude wakes up alone and asks for some water. He calls for both Arabella and Sue, but no one comes. He hears the festival outside and recognizes that it is Remembrance Week, and remembers that “Sue is defiled.” He quotes from the book of Job in the Bible, lamenting that he was ever born, and then Jude dies.
Jude is associated again with the Biblical Job, who is an archetypal figure of an innocent man who suffers for no reason. Jude has been abandoned by his wife and his true love, rejected by his dream university, and left alone to die.
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Meanwhile Arabella flirts with men, and tells Jude’s fellow stoneworkers that he is at home sleeping. They ask her to come with them to see the boat races. Before going Arabella hurries home to check on Jude, and she sees that he is dead. She curses his bad timing, and decides to go enjoy the festival before raising the alarm of his death.
Hardy reaches new levels of pessimism with the situation of Jude’s death. For Arabella, who is supposed to be eternally and sacredly bonded with Jude through marriage, Jude’s death is nothing but an inconvenience to her on a fun day.
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Arabella goes back out and tells the men that Jude is still asleep. They go and watch the boat races, and Physician Vilbert approaches her and puts his arm around her waist. After a while Arabella feels awkward and decides to leave, though she is trapped by the crowds for a while. She informs an undertaker of Jude’s death before even going home.
Arabella still has a small bit of guilt amid all her heartless actions of late, and she at least leaves Vilbert until she has dealt with Jude. Note how she is trapped by the crowds as she tried to do what’s right; Jude and Sue also were metaphorically trapped by the “crowd” of society. The festivities of Remembrance Week go happily on, blind to the tragedy unfolding nearby.
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Jude’s funeral is two days later, and it takes place as distant crowds cheer for illustrious men receiving honorary degrees. Arabella asks the Widow Edlin (the only other attendee) if Sue is coming. Mrs. Edlin says that Sue swore to never see Jude again, and that Sue looks “tired and miserable” all the time now and still can’t stand Phillotson’s company. Mrs. Edlin says she hopes Sue has found some forgiveness and peace, but Arabella declares that Sue won’t know peace until she has joined Jude in death.
Arabella is clearly an unreliable source, but she does seem to speak the truth here – Sue might have punished herself enough to satisfy her sense of guilt, but she still has to live the rest of her life with a man she can’t stand. Hardy melodramatically juxtaposes the cheering crowds of Christminster with Jude’s lonely funeral. Hardy seems to advocate struggling against the “evil star” of fate, but with such an ending he shows how futile the struggle usually is. He finds few answers to the novel’s large questions and critiques, and the only conclusion he can offer is the peace of death.
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