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Leon is clearly smitten with Emma and is pleased at having conversed with her for so long. The people of Yonville see Leon as a talented individual and consider him "a real gentleman." Homais respects him for his education, and Madame Homais likes him for his good nature. Besides helping in Homais' chemist shop, Leon also performs domestic duties for the Homais family.
Homais is very cordial to the Bovarys, but there is a reason behind his kindness. Homais has been reprimanded by the court for practicing medicine without holding a diploma. He is upset about the decision and has continued to give "innocuous consultations" from time to time. His attentiveness to the Bovarys is a ploy to put Charles "under an obligation and ensure his silence in case he ever noticed anything."
Charles is not concerned with Homais, for he has many other things to worry about. Yonville does not provide him with the clients he has expected. Money matters weigh him down, for he has little left of his savings or of Emma's dowry. His wife's pregnancy, however, lifts his spirits, and he is "overjoyed at the idea of becoming a father." After her initial repulsion to the thought of being pregnant, Emma also becomes eager to experience motherhood. She wants a son, and is sure that is what she will have.
When Emma delivers the baby, it is a girl. Emma faints in disappointment. Choosing a name for the daughter involves much discussion. Finally, Emma chooses the name, "Berthe," because she had heard the Marquis at La Vaubyessard call a young woman by that name. A wet nurse is hired to care for Berthe. One day, on an impulse, Emma wants to see her baby. She goes off to the nurse's house without telling anyone and is overcome by tiredness. On the way, she meets Leon and requests him to accompany her. By nightfall, everyone in Yonville seems to know that Emma and Leon were together.
Flaubert describes the path Emma takes in intimate detail. The nurse's house is also similarly etched. Inside the house, Emma is overcome with maternal love as she croons softly to her baby. The nurse pesters Emma with numerous requests for minor things for the infant, to which Emma agrees before leaving. Leon is waiting for her.
While Leon and Emma walk together, they are aware of a "strange sweetness" overcoming them. After Emma reaches home and Leon is left alone, he ponders the futility of pursuing an intimacy with Emma. He realizes, however, that she is different from the people in Yonville. He is also aware of the "chasms yawning between himself and her."
The third person omniscient narration becomes very obvious in this chapter. Flaubert enters Leon's head and gives his thoughts about Emma. He then goes on to speak about the reasons for Homais' willingness to help the Bovarys. Homais, the shrewd and somewhat dishonest Yonville pharmacist, tries to be on Charles' good side so that the new doctor will not report his forbidden medical activities to the authorities.
Flaubert next looks into Charles' thoughts. He is worried about his financial problems, for Emma's extravagant ways have left him with hardly any savings. He is distracted from his troubles by the birth of the baby and accepts fatherhood with joy. It makes him feel as if "he had been through the whole of human experience." Emma's emotions about motherhood are not so straightforward. At first, she had felt no enthusiasm about having a child. Later, infected by her husband's happiness, she becomes eager to experience motherhood and feels certain she will have a son. Her desire for a male child probably rises from her Emma's own deprivation as a woman; she imagines that "having a male child was like revenge for all her past helplessness. A man, at any rate, is free. He can explore the passions and the continents, can surmount obstacles, reach out to the most distant joys." Emma, on the other hand, does not feel free, but thwarted by her physical weakness and legal subordination.
When she gives birth to a girl, all the excitement that has been building up in Emma is destroyed. She faints at the news and seems interested only about naming the baby; she impulsively chooses Berthe, a name that reminds her of the ball at La Vaubyessard. On the spur of the moment, Emma also sends her infant daughter to stay with the carpenter's wife, who performs the duty of a wet nurse. Emma's impulsiveness is clearly depicted.
During this chapter, Leon begins to spend time with Emma, and a budding romance between the two is suggested. Leon, however, is practical; he is aware of the social consequences of having a relationship with a married woman. For this reason, he is hesitant to express his feelings to Emma; he cannot, however, suppress his natural desires for her.