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Sentimental Education

Sentimental Education

by Gustave Flaubert

Sentimental Education Chapter 9 Summary

The Friend of the Family

  • Frederick starts hanging out with the Arnouxes way too much. But after a lot of work, he finally gets Madame Arnoux to trust him and open up to him—especially about "the eternal subject of complaint—Arnoux" (1.9.2). Is it just us, or does this look like it won't end well?
  • She tells him about their early life together, his professional decisions and mistakes, and how she is unhappy beyond repair. He even suggests she leave her husband.
  • Oh, and when he is with her husband, Frederick suggests he leave her. "If I were you," Frederick tells him, "I would make her an allowance and live alone" (1.9.27).
  • This is one sneaky fellow.
  • Frederick admits that he's a failure, but Madame Arnoux tells him he's young and that he should work and marry.
  • He keeps swearing to himself that he is going to make a move on her, but he can't bear the idea of being rejected. Plus the maids, the kids—someone is always around. And she is so virtuous! Argh! Life is so tough.
  • Arnoux falls into deeper financial problems. He hadn't paid attention to the paperwork and has found himself legally responsible for some big mess. His reputation is going south—big time.
  • He also spends a lot of time around Frederick, who can be really annoying, especially when he praises his own wife.
  • Frederick feels bad that society is shunning the Arnouxes, and so he increases his time with them, taking them to the Italian opera every week.
  • But Frederick is getting depressed just watching this glum couple. Plus, he has fallen out of contact with all of his friends.
  • Rosanette is also in financial ruin and even sells that cashmere scarf to pay off debts.
  • One day, Arnoux confesses to Frederick that in order to put up a smokescreen, he has told his wife that Rosanette is Frederick's lover, not his. Needless to say, Frederick is not pleased about this, but can't exactly tell Arnoux why (he's in love with the guy's wife), so he decides to fix it himself: "He even called on [Madame Arnoux] that evening, and swore that Arnoux's accusation was false" (1.9.63).
  • Frederick visits his old friend Deslauriers. He then goes on an extended tirade about justice and tyranny: "It was necessary to attack accepted ideas—the Academy, the Normal School, the Consérvatoire, the Comédie Française, everything that resembled an institution" (1.9.83). Deslauriers asks Frederick for money so that he can take over management of Hussonet's newspaper. Frederick reluctantly agrees to give him money, but he says he doesn't have it yet.
  • Deslauriers mistress, Clémence, shows up, and he treats her horribly.
  • The next day, Arnoux asks him for a loan—he's "ruined." Now what? Frederick gives him the money and tells a lie to Deslauriers in order to get out of the loan to him for now. Arnoux doesn't seem capable or willing to pay back the money, but Deslauriers is putting some heavy pressure on his friend. Things get really awkward, and Frederick lies to Deslauriers by telling him he has lost the money gambling.
  • Frederick is disgusted by Arnoux—"exasperated by the vulgarity of this man. Everything, then, belonged to him!" (1.9.196) At the same time, Deslauriers (understandably) feels betrayed, his hopes for the newspaper dashed. "His friendship for Frederick was dead…" (1.9.197), he thinks to himself.
  • Disgusted by the whole mess, Frederick turns to writing a "History of the Renaissance" (1.9.197) and disappears from the scene for a while. Yeah, that's just what we do when we want to get away.
  • One day, Madame Arnoux shows up with her son, Eugène. She tells him that she and her husband owe money to Monsieur Dambreuse; could he go talk to his friend before something drastic happens? They can't repay him right now.
  • He takes her out to the garden for a stroll. She complains about her kids. Frederick gives her a rose. You know, the uzh.
  • Frederick heads over to Monsieur Dambreuse's house and tries to talk Dambreuse into delaying collections on the Arnouxes. He agrees and then offers Frederick a position as general secretary for his coal company, which involves investing 40,000 francs.
  • Frederick is a little disappointed when he doesn't get an elaborate thank-you note from Madame Arnoux. Has he been tricked? Did Arnoux get her to sucker him into this favor?
  • Instead of meeting with Dambreuse about the job and the investment, he hightails it out to the countryside to see Madame Arnoux at his country factory. He runs into Sénécal, who complains about being confined to the countryside and away from Paris and its newspapers—and gets a general impression that the place is not that great.
  • When Frederick finds Madame Arnoux, he scrambles for an excuse as to why he's there and settles on telling her he had a bad dream and wanted to make sure that she was okay.
  • She gives him a tour of the pottery works, which he's not too psyched about.
  • He gets in on some heavy flirtation, which she thinks is silly—she rejects his every attempt at affection. Meanwhile, Sénécal is lurking and generally ruining the mood.
  • While "He was anxious to cast himself at her feet," she tells him: "Assuming that she is at liberty to marry, he may marry her; when she belongs to another, he should keep away from her" (1.9.114). It's not looking good for him.
  • He returns to Paris, crushed and empty of hope. He believes she is "an idiot, a goose, a mere brute" (1.9.451). He must forget her. He must!
  • He returns home to find an invitation from Rosanette to go to the races. Why not? he figures, and he hopes word will get back to Madame Arnoux.
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