That night after prayers Angel finally summons the courage to discuss his situation with his father. He talks of his plan to set up a farm in either England or the Colonies, and Reverend Clare reveals that he has been saving up money for Angel's future land expenses. Angel is touched, and so he brings up the subject of marriage. Mr. Clare insists his wife be at least a good Christian woman, and mentions Mercy Chant.
Again Reverend Clare's kindness is emphasized over the harshness of his beliefs. He too is lost in his own world, though, and sees true Christian doctrine as the most important part of marriage. Angel has to translate his life into his father's religious language, but for now he is good at existing in two worlds at once.
Angel argues that he ought to marry someone who could help him with farming, but Mr. Clare is still caught up on the details of Mercy's beliefs. Angel says that Providence has given him a woman just as pure and faithful as Mercy, but with skills in agriculture instead of religion.
Angel frames his meeting with Tess as the work of God, and he tries to emphasize her Christianity. The Reverend is still lost in his specific preferences.
Mrs. Clare interrupts to ask about Tess's family. Angel admits that she is not a “lady,” but downplays the importance of ancestry when one is working the land. He compliments Tess for living what poets can only write about, and highlights her Christian faith, which before he had scorned as a façade for her more pagan, naturalistic lifestyle.
Mrs. Clare seems more worldly than her husband, and concerned with their social class. Angel has to downplay the part of Tess that he loves the most, which is her ancient pagan spirit and natural purity.
Considering his other rebellions, the Clares are pleased that Angel has at least chosen a Christian girl, and they offer to meet her. Angel doesn't give many details, as their middle-class prejudices might make his parents biased against Tess as she is. In discussing her, Angel realizes that what he loves about Tess is not her skill or intelligence but her inherent vitality, and he sees that there is little difference in the range of spirits in women across different social classes.
Angel understands the deep divide between his family's world and Tess's, and knows that they might disapprove of her because of external circumstances alone. For now he is blinded by love and so can look beyond the strict roles of convention, but he is still wise to prepare his austere family for the Nature-child Tess.
He departs in the morning, avoiding traveling with his brothers and eager to return to Tess. His father rides with him a while, discussing problems of the parish. Reverend Clare mentions a particular young sinner named d'Urberville. Angel knows about the old family, but Mr. Clare says this young man is no relation. He had sought out the young d'Urberville, who had a reputation for sins of passion, and preached to him. The man responded with angry and insulting remarks to the Reverend.
The hint of Alec brings up the dark past and shows that Tess is never really free; her past can always rise up and work against her. Even just the mention of d'Urberville implies that her happiness cannot last. The Reverend is contrasted with Alec in his beliefs, but especially in the endurance of his convictions.
Angel feels saddened that his father subjects himself to such attacks, but Mr. Clare brushes it off. He says he has been struck by sinners before, but if he was able to save them then it was worth it. Angel does not agree with his father's views but respects his conviction, and admires that the Reverend never asked about Tess's wealth. Angel feels closer to his father than his brothers are.
Again Mr. Clare shows admirable sincerity. Angel realizes that his father is so immersed in his beliefs that he does not care about Tess's worldly situation, but only if her faith is pure. Angel recognizes that this seems like a better way of being than that of his brothers, who are little more than servants to society's whims.