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CHAPTERS 9 AND 10

Charles weeps over the body of his wife until Homais and Canivet convince him to leave her room. Homais disguises the fact of Emma's suicide by telling everyone that she'd mistaken the arsenic for sugar. What reasons do you think he has for concealing the truth? Homais and Father Bournisien tell Charles to make preparations for Emma's funeral. "Bury her in her wedding gown," he instructs them, "with white shoes and a wreath." Homais and the priest are amazed by Charles' tender feelings, but Charles is burying Emma as he imagines she would want to be. Do you think Emma would want to be buried in her wedding gown?

Charles' mother arrives and complains about the cost of the funeral. Charles flies into a rage in much the same way Emma might have done under similar circumstances. Notice, in fact, how Charles begins to take on Emma's characteristics after her death. Seated beside her body, he daydreams about their past together, remembering the sound of her voice, her gestures and poses. He even performs the romantic act of clipping a lock of her hair.


The people of Yonville pass through the house to see Emma's body and pay their respects to Charles. How do you think they react to Emma's death? Emma's father arrives, but he doesn't know whether his daughter is dead or alive. When Homais wrote him, he phrased the letter so that it was impossible to know what was wrong with her. Why do you think he did this? When Monsieur Rouault learns what happened, he falls into Charles' arms while Homais, with his typically insensitive way, advises them to be philosophical and to act dignified.

NOTE:

After Emma dies, Charles tries to keep the spark of romantic feeling alive by "becoming" Emma. Is Flaubert using Emma's death to signal symbolically the death of Romanticism and the emerging power of middle-class life? Homais, with his hypocritical values, and Lheureux represent the future. Do you think Flaubert's vision is overly pessimistic?

At the gravesite, Charles cries out "Good-bye" and tries to throw himself into the grave beside her. Homais, filled with his typical sense of self-importance, regrets that he didn't have time to compose a speech.

Charles and his mother sit up most of the night talking about the future. She offers to live with him in Yonville, secretly pleased that she no longer has a rival for her son's affections, but Charles knows that this would never work. Everyone else in Yonville is asleep. Rodolphe is sleeping peacefully in his chateau. Leon is asleep in Rouen. The only person still awake is Justin, who's kneeling on Emma's grave, unable to believe that she's dead.

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