Phase the First: The Maiden, Chapters 1–4: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How does John Durbeyfield learn about his true family heritage?

2. What is the name of the valley where Tess and her family live?

3. What distinguishes Tess from her fellow country maidens?

4. What happens at the first meeting between Tess and Angel?

5. What do the two older brothers on a walking tour wish to do, instead of dancing with local girls?

6. Who takes care of the children in the Durbeyfield family?

7. What happens on the road to Casterbridge market?

8. What is the subject of Tess’s and Abraham’s conversation as they ride to market?

9. What does Joan Durbeyfield rely on when deciding Tess’s future plans?

10. Why does Tess consent to her mother’s plan that she ask Mrs. D’Urberville for a job?

Answers
1. On impulse, a local man gives this information to John Durbeyfield as they meet by chance on a country road.

2. The Durbeyfield’s home village is in the vale (or valley) of Blakemore or Blackmoor.

3. Tess’s beauty sets her apart from her friends. She is the only girl in the procession adorned with a red ribbon.

4. Angel, drawn by curiosity, dances with a local woman at Marlott’s May-Day procession. Tess sees Angel and is impressed by his distinguished manner and looks. Angel sees Tess and is momentarily regretful he did not dance with her.

5. The two older brothers wish to have time later on to discuss a book dealing with a contemporary religious controversy, the rise of atheism.

6. Tess is the oldest child by more than four years, and the hardest-working member of the family. Much of the child-care responsibility goes to her.

7. Abraham and Tess fall asleep early in the morning as their horse, Prince, drags a cart loaded up with beehives to market in Casterbridge. Walking on the wrong side of the road, Prince is gored by the mail cart, and dies.

8. Tess describes how humans live on a “blighted star,” thus accounting for the miserable position of the Durbeyfield family.

9. Joan relies on a book, the Compleat Fortune-Teller, to predict Tess’s future.

10. “Nobody blamed Tess as she blamed herself” for the death of Prince. Her guilt over this accident and her sense of responsibility for her family override her intuition that the project of “claiming kin” with the D’Urbervilles is unwise.