Tess prepares to leave for the Slopes and allows her mother to dress her up. Tess looks older than she actually is, and Joan is delighted with her appearance and the effect she imagines it will have on Alec. Tess says goodbye to her father, who takes a break from his nap to say he will sell his title to Alec. He starts by asking for one thousand pounds, but beats himself down to twenty. Tess leaves with her mother and sisters, full of emotion.
The description of Tess's appearance shows her as a physically desirable woman who is still an innocent girl at heart. Durbeyfield's comical goodbye satirizes both his delusions of grandeur and his poor understanding of money, although there is also a tragic note because of his many young children.
The family goes to wait for the cart to Trantridge, all of them looking innocent and beautiful. The cart appears and Tess says goodbye and walks up the hill. Joan watches the cart approach and sees with delight that it is driven by Alec d'Urberville. Tess hesitates to go with him, but then strengthens her resolve and leaves. The children and Joan start to cry.
The Durbeyfield family appears as an image of agricultural innocence and a purer past. We are suddenly given Joan's point of view at the point when Tess truly accepts her fate and gets onto the wagon with Alec, putting herself in some way under his control. Joan seems to cry both from sadness at seeing her daughter leave but also perhaps joy at what she thinks will lead to her daughter's marriage to a wealthy man.
That night as they are lying in bed, Joan voices her misgivings to her husband. She says she wishes she had found out if Alec was a good man or not before letting Tess go with him. But then Joan consoles herself that if Tess plays her “trump card,” her beautiful face, then Alec is sure to marry her.
Even Joan, who pushed this plan so hard, has doubts now, but in the end she trusts that fate will work itself out. She keeps believing that “what will be will be,” but for Joan that is an optimistic idea. Joan also sees beauty as a strength for Tess, but in many ways Tess's beauty functions as a kind of weakness, attracting predatory men.