Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | MonkeyNotes
Her first morning in Yonville, Emma wakes up and sees Leon in the town square, on his way to work. She nods to him and quickly closes the window. What does this gesture tell you about her feelings for him?
Remember the symbolism of the window. When Emma sees Leon through the open window, it is a sign that she is looking for more than Charles can offer. By shutting the window, Emma closes off her sudden feelings for Leon. She has not yet begun to break through the moral and social pressures working against her-that is, against adultery-but there is no question that her body has begun to give her signs of mounting tension.
Leon's conversation with Emma the night before was apparently an important occasion for him. Never before has he spoken to a woman for such a long time, nor has he been able to express himself so eloquently on such a wide range of subjects.
As the Bovarys settle down in Yonville, Homais proves to be a helpful neighbor. You learn that he's been practicing medicine in the back of his pharmacy without a diploma, and since this is a violation of the law, he's anxious to make friends with the doctor so that Charles will defend him to the authorities if necessary.
Charles isn't particularly happy in his new surroundings. He has few patients and spends most of his time doing odd jobs around the house. He's worried about money, but that doesn't prevent him from taking pleasure in Emma's pregnancy. Emma is disappointed that she doesn't have enough money to buy fancy clothing for the child. She wants a little boy, feeling that males have more opportunities than females in the world. When she gives birth to a girl, she turns away and faints.
For Emma, pregnancy and giving birth are interesting as new experiences,
but otherwise they seem to have little meaning. There is no place in a
life of romance for taking care of a baby, and some readers feel that
she senses the child will tie her down even further to a life she despises.
For Charles, on the other hand, the birth of the child is the crowning
achievement of his life.
Emma decides to name her daughter Berthe, remembering that at the ball she'd heard the Marquis call a woman by that name. As a new mother, Emma enjoys the attention of all the townspeople, but otherwise remains unsatisfied. One day, Emma feels the need to see her daughter, who's living at the house of a wet-nurse, a woman employed to breastfeed another's baby. On the way she meets Leon who accompanies her. By evening, all of Yonville knows that Emma and Leon spent the afternoon together.
The people of Yonville feel that Emma, as a married woman, has "compromised herself" by walking with a man who isn't her husband. Emma's values are contrasted with the narrow-mindedness of middle-class small-town people, and her scorn for public opinion foreshadows her future infidelities.
At the wet-nurse's house, Emma picks up her child and begins to sing to her, but the child throws up on the collar of her dress-an act that horrifies Emma. Is Emma's attitude toward her child consistent with what you know of her personality?
As they walk back to town, Emma and Leon talk about a company of Spanish dancers that is coming to perform in Rouen. Their words seem less important, however, than the emotions between them. Emma returns home and Leon, unable to work, climbs to the top of a hill at the edge of the forest and thinks about how different Emma is from all the other people in Yonville. Despite his excitement, the idea of pursuing their intimacy frightens him and offends his middle-class sensibility.