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Yonville is a sleepy little town that Flaubert intimately describes, giving details about the church, the market place, the chemist's shop, and the Golden Lion Inn. He also introduces Madame Lefrançois (the landlady of the inn), Monsieur Homais (the chemist), Monsieur Binet (the tax collector), and the priest.
It is a busy night in Yonville, for the market is open the next day. Amidst the activity, Emma and Charges Bovary arrive in a coach, the Hirondelle. Emma is extremely upset at having lost her greyhound during the journey. Monsieur Lheureux, one of her fellow passengers who is a draper, tries to console her.
As Flaubert describes the route to Yonville and the surroundings of the town, it is clear to see why he is judged as such an outstanding writer of realistic fiction. The minute details that he gives help to familiarize the reader with the place even before the Bovarys arrive. Flaubert also makes it obvious that Yonville is a sleepy little town, with no more activity or possibility than Tostes. The reader is made to think that Emma probably will not like it here either. In fact, she arrives in a foul mood, for she has lost her greyhound during the journey.
This chapter also introduces some of the characters whose actions gain importance later in the plot. The reader learns that Madame Lefrançois is a shrewd businesswoman; Homais is anti-church; the curé (priest) is a timid sort; and Binet is soldier-like in all his habits. Lheureux is also introduced, and he will assume villainous dimensions later in the novel. He is the first of several characters who betray Emma after she relies on them for comfort.