Tess feels dazed as she rides away from Trantridge. Another passenger comments on her appearance, and she remembers that she is covered in flowers. She tries to remove most of them, and the thorn of a rose pricks her chin, which she considers a bad omen. She spends the night in Shaston and goes home the next day.
Tess bedecked in roses offers another image of her as a fertility goddess or a symbol of Nature. Tess still has some of her mother's superstitions, and can't help but give weight to bad omens.
Tess enters the house to find her mother triumphant. They have already received a letter asking Tess to come look after the birds at the d'Urberville estate. She will be paid well and the family is gleeful with the news. Tess feels uncomfortable, however, and doesn't wish to return to the Slopes, but she won't explain why.
Tess is going to look after the birds, which is again a position related to the natural world. Her employment seems like a stroke of good fortune to the family, but Tess's encounter with Alec forebodes future unhappiness.
A week later Tess returns home from job searching to find the family rejoicing again. Alec d'Urberville has ridden by and asked in person if Tess would come manage the fowls. Joan exclaims over his handsomeness and the diamond ring on his finger. John thinks that Alec wants to marry Tess to improve his own bloodline. Tess is again reluctant and wishes she had met with Mrs. d'Urberville instead.
Alec's reappearance confirms his interest in Tess and that she cannot escape his role in her destiny. The family's delight over his wealth, combined with Durbeyfield's vanity, show the farcical disparity between the two families, and the idea of respectable names versus real wealth. It also shows how the family relies on Tess to support them, whether through work or, hopefully, marriage to a rich man.
After thinking again of Prince's death and being teased by her younger siblings, Tess finally agrees to go. She warns her mother that she only wants to earn money, not get married. She writes to the d'Urbervilles and receives a response, but notices that Mrs. d'Urberville's handwriting seems masculine. Joan is offended that they are only sending a cart for Tess instead of a carriage. Once she has made her decision Tess feels less restless, and she can accept that fate does not want her to become a schoolteacher as she had once hoped.
It is finally Tess's own guilt and selflessness that lead her to accept her fate and go to the other d'Urbervilles. Here again she acts as a religious figure, sacrificing her future for her family's well-being. She imagines that she has decided her path now and so is more at peace, although she cannot know the misfortunes to come.