Far from the Madding Crowd | Study Guide

Thomas Hardy

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Far from the Madding Crowd | Chapters 34–36 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 34: Home Again—A Trickster

Bathsheba Everdene and Liddy Smallbury return. Not long after, Sergeant Troy returns, too. Boldwood stops him, offering him a sizable amount of money to marry Fanny Robin. Troy seems ready to take it, but Bathsheba appears. Boldwood stays out of sight as they speak. Their conversation reveals that they have been intimate, and when she departs, Boldwood switches to offering to pay Troy to marry Bathsheba. Troy ultimately accepts the money, only to reveal later that he's married her already and to return the money to Boldwood. He points out that Boldwood claims to love her but thinks poorly of her with no hesitation. Boldwood leaves promising revenge.

Chapter 35: At an Upper Window

Morning comes, and Gabriel Oak and Jan Coggan see a man in the house. They infer correctly that Bathsheba has married Troy. Gabriel is cold, but not rude to Troy. Coggan encourages Gabriel to be more respectful.

Chapter 36: Wealth in Jeopardy—The Revel

On what Gabriel perceives as the eve of a storm, he goes to tell Troy that the ricks, which hold half the year's produce, are vulnerable. Troy dismisses him and his advice, as he is having a party. Troy further announces that the brandy ought to be brought up and all men there are to partake in celebrating with him. Gabriel takes it on himself to get supplies and protect the ricks. He puts waterproof covers over four of the stacks of wheat. He then contrives a way to protect the other three wheat stacks, and moves on to the barley which can only be protected by "systemized thatching."

Analysis

Both Troy's positive and negative traits appear in this section. On one hand, he is right to point out that if Boldwood respected and loved Bathsheba he wouldn't think ill of her so quickly. On the other, he taunts Boldwood to make his point. If the reader recalls the initial depiction of Troy, it contains the reference that he is "exceptionally well educated for a common soldier." In sum, Troy is clever, educated, and not opposed to risks. Taunting Boldwood likely doesn't seem much of a risk; if anything, it is indicative of Troy's disdain for the older farmer who attempted to woo the woman Troy has just married. In this conversation, Troy establishes his dominance over Boldwood.

Notably, Troy does no such thing with Gabriel. He is not meek, but he does not provoke an argument. That said, Troy's disdain comes across when Gabriel lets him know that the crops are at risk. Troy may have military talents, and he has assisted on the farm, but that does not make him a leader.

The seeds of discontent between husband and wife also come through here. Troy has no regard for his wife or her finances as he calls for brandy to share with all. He endangers Bathsheba's finances both with his spending and with his lack of attention to the well-being of the farm. In direct contrast to both Troy and Boldwood, Gabriel continues to put Bathsheba's well-being and interests as his priority. When the others are too drunk, Gabriel still acts in the best interests of the farm, and therefore in Bathsheba's best interest, despite her action in pursuing and marrying Troy.

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