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CHAPTER 2

In the middle of the night, a messenger arrives at Charles' house with the news that a nearby farmer, Monsieur Rouault, has broken his leg. Heloise thinks it's too dangerous to travel by night, so Charles sets out at dawn on the fifteen-mile trip. Half-asleep, he recalls his life as a student and compares it to his present life as a doctor and married man.

NOTE: INTERIOR MONOLOGUE

In Flaubert's work, it is usual to see memories of objects and people from the distant past interacting with events of the present. Flaubert was one of the first novelists who tried to show how people think-the way one thought connects with another. This analysis of the mental process had an important influence on many twentieth-century writers, especially Marcel Proust and James Joyce, who both developed further the technique known as interior monologue or stream of consciousness. As mentioned earlier, Flaubert uses an indirect narrative approach to take you inside the minds of his characters. He describes their thoughts and reactions without directly stating who is doing the thinking or reacting, so that it seems as if the character has replaced the narrator. This is the process that occurs as Charles travels to the farm. From what you already know about him, do you think he would express his thoughts in the same language if he was reminiscing directly in the first person?

Arriving at the farm-called Les Bertaux-Charles is met by Rouault's beautiful young daughter, Emma. He sets Rouault's leg without any problems, and notices Emma's hands as she helps him with the bandages. Her eyes look straight at him "with naive boldness," and Charles is struck by her elegance.


Over the next few months, Charles visits the Rouault household regularly, even though Monsieur Rouault is fully recovered. Heloise, suspicious about Charles' new happiness, inquires about Rouault's daughter. Consumed by jealousy, she makes her husband promise never to visit the farm again. But this backfires on her since Charles quickly becomes aware of his infatuation.

NOTE:

Flaubert introduces you to Emma but doesn't tell you much about her. What you know is filtered through the impressions of Charles and Heloise. By introducing the sensual Emma into Charles' dull world, Flaubert sets up one of the many contrasts that will echo and reverberate throughout Madame Bovary. Bovary's early dreams of romance with Emma will be echoed by her dreams of a romantic marriage with him. Also, the contrast between the shrewish Heloise and Emma will be recalled when Emma replaces Heloise and turns out to be different from this initial impression she makes both on you and on Charles. As you read, notice Flaubert's skill in presenting Emma. With each chapter, you will learn a little more, and the different aspects of her character will gradually come together into a complete portrait.

Later that spring, the notary who had handled Heloise's estate embezzles the remainder of her money. Charles' parents are outraged since Heloise's main attraction was her modest income. A violent quarrel takes place between Charles' parents and his wife, and a week later, Heloise collapses and dies suddenly in the front yard.

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