Study Guide

Madame Bovary Part 1, Chapter 2

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Part 1, Chapter 2

  • The young "doctor" is awakened in the night by a call from a patient; someone at a farm called Les Bertaux outside the town has a broken leg that needs to be set. It’s agreed that Charles will head out to take care of the patient at moonrise.
  • Until then, Charles lies awake, dreading the medical debacle about to unfold. We’ve already figured out that he’s not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer, and he doesn’t feel too confident about his healing powers. We have to admit, we’re nervous for him and his patient, too…seriously, would you want this guy operating on your broken leg?
  • Les Bertaux turns out to be a nice piece of real estate. Monsieur Rouault, the farmer/patient, is obviously pretty well off. A widower, he takes care of the family farm with the help of his young daughter. Said daughter lets Charles in and takes him up to the patient.
  • Monsieur Rouault is a good-natured man, and his fracture also proves to be somewhat good-natured; it’s a totally clean break, and Charles starts to feel confident again. He cheers up his patient, and competently takes care of the injury.
  • In the meanwhile, the daughter, Emma, attempts to make herself useful by sewing some padding, but she turns out to be a bad seamstress. Her ineptitude doesn’t matter, though – Charles is quite taken by her dainty appearance (she’s a total babe). As the three of them go downstairs to have a bite to eat, the young doctor takes a better look at the young daughter.
  • Charles (and we) get to know Emma a little better. She hates country living, and doesn’t seem quite content with her life. We’re not sure if Charles notices this. What he does notice is that she is really beautiful. She’s got gorgeous brown eyes, full lips, carefully arranged black hair, and rosy cheeks. Someone’s got a crush…
  • Charles keeps visiting Les Bertaux, supposedly to check in with his patient, but really to see Emma. His irritable/irritating wife finds out that Emma is something of a fine young lady, having received a fancy education at a convent, and is upset by the idea that Charles is in love with the girl. She makes Charles promise not to visit Les Bertaux anymore.
  • Charles's first wife is not long in this world. Some bad financial news emerges (it turns out she was lying to the Bovarys about how much money she had in the first place, and Mom and Pop Bovary freak out big time), and the distraught woman actually collapses and dies. Charles is now free, although he does feel a little sad, since she loved him.

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