Study Guide

Thérèse Raquin Chapter 26

By Émile Zola

Chapter 26

  • Mme Raquin suffers a debilitating stroke that leaves her mute and immobilized. 
  • Thérèse and Laurent are terrified about the prospect of facing each other without Mme Raquin's comforting chatter creating a buffer between them. It's kind of like when a couple have kids, and then the kids grow up and move away, and then the couple realizes they no longer have anything to say to each other—so they get divorced. (Hm, maybe we forgot to take our happy pills this morning, Shmoopers. But this is a pretty messed-up novel…) 
  • For a few days, Mme Raquin is still able to partially use her hand to communicate. But eventually, she loses all movement and can only use her eyes to try to convey her needs. 
  • On Thursday evening, Michaud and Grivet are initially disturbed by Mme Raquin's motionless body. But they eventually become accustomed to her silence. Mighty nice of them, if you ask us, to "get used to" the poor infirm Mme Raquin.  
  • But they're not done focusing on Mme Raquin yet. Grivet develops an obsession with her, actually: he claims to know exactly what she wants simply by looking into her eyes.  
  • Grivet, of course, is always wrong. 
  • Despite her paralysis, Mme Raquin has no complaints: she feels grateful that Laurent and Thérèse are taking such good care of her. 
  • But one day, Mme Raquin suffers a terrible blow. Since she has lost her speech, Thérèse and Laurent often forget she's still in the room, so they start arguing more frequently in front of her. 
  • And yeah, you guessed it: The couple accidently confesses enough information about Camille that Mme Raquin realizes their secret. 
  • Mme Raquin has to sit around knowing the murderers of her son are right in front of her, but she's helpless to do anything about it. 
  • Guess there won't be any cats let out of any bags, kiddos. 
  • When Laurent bends down to carry Mme Laurent to her bed, she glares at him with hatred.  
  • But, like we said… She simply can't do anything about it. Sigh.