Summary of Chapter 19: Adam on a Working Day
Adam walks the next day to a job three miles away and thinks about his future. It looks more hopeful with his father gone. He thinks about Hetty and how he will be able to marry in another year or so by saving his money. He is strong and confident about himself but doesn’t know if Hetty loves him. He decides to visit the Hall Farm to see her. He knows that his mother will continue to be a problem if he marries Hetty, but he decides he has to assert his will to her.
He does not want a partnership with Jonathan Burge, for that involves the assumption he will marry Mary Burge. He thinks of going into a business of furniture making with his brother to earn extra money. At work, Adam is strong and happily whistling, for he loves his work and loves to do a good job. He has gone out of his way to study at night school with Bartle Massey the teacher, for Adam is not an average man.
Commentary on Chapter 19
Again Eliot brings up the strengths of the working classes, pointing out their virtues. Most of the rural people are shown to be healthy and clean, hard-working, thrifty, and generous to their neighbors. The Donnithornes and Irwines are the only upper class characters in the story. Though Mr. Irwine is described as fresh and beneficent, the other upper class characters are generally not healthy except for Arthur who gets outdoor exercise. The maiden ladies, Lydia Donnithorne and Anne Irwine, for instance, are thin and sickly, and Squire Donnithorne is shriveled. The farm poor are also contrasted to the industrial poor at Snowfield. Eliot may be showing a realistic picture of the country as she remembered from her girlhood but she also romanticizes what was the last remnant of rural society before the industrial age. The peasant stock who lived in harmony with the land had a strength and self-sufficiency that mill workers did not.