Joseph Andrews - Plot Summary - Book II

Book II

During his stay in the inn, Adams’ hopes for his sermons were mocked in a discussion with a travelling bookseller and another parson. Nevertheless, Adams remains resolved to continue his journey to London until it is revealed that his wife, deciding that he would be more in need of shirts than sermons on his journey, has neglected to pack them. The pair thus decide to return to the parson’s parish: Joseph in search of Fanny, and Adams in search of his sermons.

With Joseph following on horseback, Adams finds himself sharing a stagecoach with an anonymous lady and Madam Slipslop, an admirer of Joseph’s and a servant of Lady Booby. When they pass the house of a teenage girl named Leonora, the anonymous lady is reminded of a story and begins one of the novel’s three interpolated tales, ‘The History of Leonora, or the Unfortunate Jilt’. The story of Leonora continues for a number of chapters, punctuated by the questions and interruptions of the other passengers.

After stopping at an inn, Adams relinquishes his seat to Joseph and, forgetting his horse, embarks ahead on foot. Finding himself some time ahead of his friend, Adams rests by the side of the road where he becomes so engaged in conversation with a fellow traveller that he misses the stagecoach as it passes. As the night falls and Adams and the stranger discourse on courage and duty, a shriek is heard. The stranger, having seconds earlier lauded the virtues of bravery and chivalry, makes his excuses and flees the scene without turning back. Adams, however, rushes to the girl’s aid and after a mock-epic struggle knocks her attacker unconscious. In spite of Adams’ good intentions, he and the girl, who reveals herself to be none other than Fanny Goodwill (in search of Joseph after hearing of his mugging), find themselves accused of assault and robbery.

After some comic litigious wrangling before the local magistrate, the pair are eventually released and depart shortly after midnight in search of Joseph. They do not have to walk far before a storm forces them into the same inn that Joseph and Slipslop have chosen for the night. Slipslop, her jealousy ignited by seeing the two lovers reunited, departs angrily. When Adams, Joseph and Fanny come to leave the following morning, they find their departure delayed by an inability to settle the bill, and, with Adams’ solicitations of a loan from the local parson and his wealthy parishioners failing, it falls on a local peddler to rescue the trio by loaning them his last 6s 6d.

The solicitations of charity that Adams is forced to make, and the complications which surround their stay in the parish, bring him into contact with many local squires, gentlemen and parsons, and much of the latter portion of Book II is occupied with the discussions of literature, religion, philosophy and trade which result.

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