The Clares receive Tess's letter and hope that it will make Angel hurry home. Mrs. Clare's only complaint to her husband is that Angel wasn't given the chance to attend Cambridge like his brothers. Mr. Clare still feels justified in his decision, but he prays for Angel and misses him. They wonder what went wrong with his marriage and blame themselves.
The Reverend still stands by his convictions, but also remains strong in his love for Angel. The Clares' kindness is one of the good example of Christianity in the novel, and emphasizes the tragedy that Tess never meets them.
At that moment Angel is in the interior of Brazil, riding towards the coast. He has had a hard time in Brazil, as have all the hopeful farmers and their families from England. His moral sense has also matured, and he now considers intentions more important than results. This makes him start to feel guilty about how he has treated Tess. He wonders why she doesn't write, and assumes she is doing well.
Angel has experienced another ideal being ruined for him, and it finally matures him some. He still doesn't realize Tess's proud streak, or how devoted she was to his instructions to not write unless he asked for her. Away from the narrow Victorian society he can begin to expands his idea of morality.
On one of his journeys Angel rides with another depressed Englishman, and tells him all the details of his marriage. The stranger has traveled in many cultures and remarks how limited Angel's views are. Tess's past should be nothing compared to her present, and Angel was wrong to reject her.
This stranger seems almost like a stand-in for Hardy, telling the harsh truth to Angel about how unfair he has been, and complaining about how foolishly stifling the conventions of Victorian England are.
The next day the stranger gets a fever and dies, making his words feel more important. Angel begins to realize how narrow-minded he has been, all while thinking he was being so philosophically open. He had chosen Paganism over Christianity, but Pagan culture would never punish someone for being raped.
Angel had rejected the doctrines of Christianity but still kept the judgmental mindset, and now finally can step outside of his society and religion and see how unjust he was.
Angel thinks again of Izz's words and of Tess's faith in him on their wedding day. Slowly he becomes Tess's advocate against himself, and withdraws his criticisms. Her d'Urberville name starts to appeal to him, as it has no economic value but much sentimental interest in terms of the fallen mighty ones.
Distance finally makes the heart grow fonder, and his rigorous ideals start to give way to emotion. Hardy uses the d'Urberville name in the same way – it has no real wealth attached, but lots of symbolic and dramatic value.
Angel also realizes that despite her “impure” past, Tess is still the ideal of purity and freshness that he had loved, and so his feelings begin to return, though he is too far inland to receive the letter yet.
Angel's idealized version of Tess returns, but he now realizes that in many ways she lived up to the ideal – he just has to widen his narrow parameters in order to be able to see it.
Tess meanwhile fluctuates in her hopes of Angel's return. She decides to learn to sing some of the songs Angel had played on his harp, and she cries as she practices them alone in the cold fields.
Tess at her most heart-wrenching. Her portrayal here emphasizes how harshly she has been treated by fate, society, and men.
Lady-Day and the end of her employment approaches, and one day her sister Liza-Lu appears at the door, looking much more mature. She says that their mother is dying, and their father is also ill, and he still won't work because of his high ancestry. Tess decides to leave the farm early and start home that night.
Another unhappy twist of fate for Tess, although at least she gets out of Flintcomb-Ash. She will now be even more vulnerable, especially to Alec's offers of wealth in her family's time of need.