Study Guide

Sentimental Education Chapter 6

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Chapter 6

Blighted Hopes

  • Things aren't looking good money-wise for our hero. The chapter begins: "Ruined, stripped of everything, undermined!" (1.6.1)
  • He worries that being poor will mean that he can't see the Arnouxes anymore; then he thinks maybe he can play on the whole poor artist thing.
  • Still, poverty repulses him: he'll be like Deslauriers, he'll lose is team of servants, and he'll "make his appearance with wretched black gloves turning blue at the ends, a greasy hat, and the same frock-coat for a whole year" (1.6.3).
  • Our guy spends way too much time at home and gets kind of comfortable being so unmotivated. He figures that Madame Arnoux will think he is dead. He can't go back to Paris like this.
  • And so... he gets some crazy ideas. What is he supposed to do now? "[H]e longed to become a trapper in America, to attend on a pasha in the East, to take ship as a sailor; and he gave vent to his melancholy in long letters to Deslauriers" (1.6.15).
  • Sénécal has moved in with Deslauriers. That's the last straw: Frederick wants to kill himself.
  • Although Madame Moreau does not get along with her neighbor, Monsieur Roque, Frederick strikes up an acquaintance with the man.
  • We find out a little about Roque's past: In 1834, he brought back from Paris Madame Eleanore, "a handsome blonde with a sheep-like type of countenance" (1.6.25), who gave birth to a daughter, Elisabeth Olympe Louise Roque.
  • The housekeeper—Catherine—ended up raising the child because her mother just wanted to shop and gossip. Roque really loves her. It's all very complicated.
  • The little girl spends a lot of time in the garden playing by herself. She likes Frederick though, and one day tells him: "I fancy myself your wife" (1.6.38). Never mind that she's a child and he has no interest—he spends time with her anyway.
  • The rich uncle, Barthélemy, shows up, and Madame Moreau bends over backwards trying to please him with hope upon hope that he will leave his fortune to her son. It's not looking good.
  • But wait! It turns out he did leave his fortune to Frederick.
  • Things are a-changing.
  • Frederick is eager to return to Paris as a rich man and become a minister—a political figure. He's also got plans for a fancy house: "And every day this was renewed indefinitely. He would receive them in his own house: the dining-room would be furnished in red leather; the boudoir in yellow silk; sofas everywhere! and such a variety of whatnots, china vases, and carpets!" (1.6.62)
  • Other happenings? Mr. Roque's wife, Madame Éléonore, dies, and Louise is distraught that Frederick is returning to Paris.

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