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CHAPTER 6

After daydreaming about her life in the convent, Emma thinks that Father Bournisien might be able to help her, so she heads for the church. But when she arrives, the priest, his cassock covered with grease spots and snuff stains, doesn't recognize her. When he finally remembers her, and she tries to tell him about her unhappiness, he responds by saying that he too is suffering. What do you think he means by this? Though distracted continuously by the boys playing in the church, he advises her to consult her husband about her condition. Finally he excuses himself and runs shouting into the church to see what the boys are doing. If you've ever sought help from a guidance counselor or teacher who was too busy to deal with you or too obtuse to sense that you had a real problem, you may appreciate Emma's feelings at this moment.

For Bournisien, religion is something that's taken for granted, not something you genuinely feel. He's a materialist who thinks the only causes for suffering are lack of food and warmth. Like Charles, he's an example of blindness and is a poor communicator.

Emma returns home and sinks despondently into her armchair. What can she do now? Her daughter Berthe attempts to amuse her, but Emma pushes her away and Berthe falls, cutting her cheek on the edge of the dresser. Guiltily, Emma takes the child upstairs and sits with her until she stops crying. "How ugly that child is," she thinks, as she stares at Berthe's tear-stained face. Does Emma's attitude shock you? Hasn't Flaubert prepared you for the fact that, while Emma dreams of love in the abstract, she has little feeling for real people?


And what is Leon feeling? He has no real ties to anyone in Yonville. He can leave whenever he wants, and if Emma isn't going to return his love, there's no reason for him to stay. Like Emma, he's consumed by fantasies and begins to imagine a life in Paris. Finally he writes to his mother, setting forth his reasons for wanting to move to Paris, then makes plans for his departure. Does it seem odd to you that he should require his mother's permission to take this step? In this respect, is he any different from Charles? Leon seems every bit as conventional as Charles and the other residents of Yonville. His romantic fancies, like Emma's, may just be the result of too many bad books. Watch for the return of Leon at the end of Part Two.

The time comes for Leon to leave Yonville and he goes to see Emma one last time. After kissing Berthe good-bye, he shakes hands awkwardly with Emma and runs down the street to the carriage. After he leaves, Emma stands by her window and watches the clouds gather in the west. That evening, Homais and Charles speculate on what Leon's life in Paris will be like, while Emma remains silent. As he leaves, Homais informs them of the latest news: the agricultural show will be held in Yonville later this year.

NOTE:

PATHETIC FALLACY Notice that the weather-gray, cloudy skies-is in harmony with Emma's mood. As Leon leaves, Emma grows even more unhappy. Her tears, like raindrops, are a sign of rough times ahead. The technique of using weather to reinforce a person's emotions is called the pathetic fallacy. This is just another way that Flaubert reveals inner states by referring to outside objects.

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