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Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary


by Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary Part 3, Chapter 2 Summary

  • Emma returns to the inn, and finds that she’s missed the Hirondelle, which was there to pick her up earlier. She hires a cab and catches up to the stagecoach. She returns home.
  • Once there, Félicité sends her next door to the Homais house, saying that it’s urgent.
  • It’s jam making day in Yonville, a particularly hectic time.
  • At chez Homais, Emma discovers the pharmacist’s family in an uproar. It turns out that Justin almost made a fatal mistake – he almost used a pan for jam that was dangerously close to the jar of arsenic.
  • Homais is unbelievably angry; his wife and the children freak out, as though they’d already been poisoned. Emma observes all this, as Homais goes through the whole chain of events again.
  • Poor Justin. Things just go from bad to worse for him. As Homais shakes him back and forth angrily, a book falls out of his pocket. Not just any book…a book called Conjugal Love. With pictures. The children are struck dumb, and Homais snatches it away furiously.
  • At this point, Emma successfully breaks into the conversation. She asks what’s wrong.
  • Homais bluntly tells her that her father-in-law, the elder Monsieur Bovary, is dead.
  • Emma goes to find Charles as Homais cools down a bit, still grumbling.
  • Charles has been waiting for his wife, and tearfully greets her with a hug and kiss. Emma, remembering Léon, is grossed out by her husband. She responds with an extraordinary lack of sympathy.
  • Charles, poor man, just thinks that Emma is struck by grief, when in reality, she just doesn’t know what to say, and doesn’t feel anything.
  • Hippolyte limps in, bringing Emma’s bags. Emma is embarrassed as ever by his presence, a symbol of Charles’s failures.
  • The next day, Charles’s mother arrives. Mother and son are debilitated by grief; Emma is unmoved. Instead, she’s daydreaming about Léon.
  • Monsieur Lheureux, who seems to have an incredible radar system for knowing the absolute worst time for stopping by, stops by.
  • The merchant and Emma step aside to discuss business. Lheureux slyly proposes another lending arrangement – knowing that Emma is a fool with money, he wants Charles to give her power of attorney (basically control over their financial situation), so he can deal with her.
  • Soon enough, he returns with yards of black fabric for a mourning dress.
  • Lheureux keeps pushing Emma about the whole power of attorney business, which she doesn’t really understand. However, she figures things out soon enough.
  • As soon as Charles’s mother leaves, Emma goes into financier mode. She has a document drawn up by the notary, which gives her control over the family’s money and loans.
  • Charles is amazed by what seems like Emma’s common sense. She slyly suggests that they should have someone else look over the notarized document before they sign it – and Charles himself sends her to Rouen to meet with Léon. She’s gone for three days.

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