Study Guide

Thérèse Raquin Chapter 1

By Émile Zola

Chapter 1

  • The book opens with a very detailed description of a place in Paris called the Passage du Pont Neuf. Oh, you want to know what it is too? 
  • We'll spare you the gruesome details, but the Passage du Pont Neuf is basically a dark alleyway lined with different retailers. The goods they're selling range from books to jewelry to toys.  
  • After we get the blow-by-blow of several shop windows, we finally end at a haberdashery shop (that's a fancy word for a place that sells items of clothing) called Thérèse Raquin.  
  • In it, there's an unnamed young woman sitting motionlessly, hidden in the shadows. 
  • We also see a sixty year-old woman dozing in a chair next to a tabby cat. (Ooh, a cat.) Oh, and a young man of thirty sitting in another chair nearby. 
  • Around 10 o'clock at night, the old woman closes the shop. 
  • The young couple retires to bed.