Sentimental Education - Chapters 3 and 4 Summary & Analysis

Gustave Flaubert and Mary Ruefle
This Study Guide consists of approximately 38 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Sentimental Education.
This section contains 858 words
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Chapters 3 and 4 Summary

Frederic enters law school two months after going home. He uses his connection with Roque to meet Monsieur Dambreuse. The wealthy industrialist Dambreuase and his socialite wife interview him but find him uninteresting. Frederic is unhappy about this but is delighted to find Jacques Arnoux's art shop on his walk home. He fantasizes about running into Marie Arnoux. Frederic grows restless in law school and prefers to pursue writing and literature. He wanders the Parisian streets, hoping to run into Marie. He does not hear back from Monsieur Dambreuse; further, Charles had connected him with Senecal, a mathematician tutoring, but Senecal ignores him too. Frederic spends some time writing a novel and composing music. At a theatre event, Frederic sees Jacques Arnoux, who is at that time with two other women - a piece of apparel on Jacques's hat causes him to worry that Marie has died, so he runs to Jacques's store to ask the clerk whether she is alive. Instead, of asking this explicitly, he asks the clerk about their marriage; she is, much to his delight, still living. Some weeks pass, he travels between Nogent and Paris, and loses interest in Marie.

Chapter 4 opens with a protest in the street that seems to have no purpose. He meets Hussonnet and see Martinon, a fellow law student. Martinon is concerned about violence from the rioters, but Hussonett believes that his fears derive from government propaganda. They run into a Professor Rondelot on his way to class; the protesters verbally attack him because he has authority and harass the police for the same reason. A physical conflict begins, and the police arrest a man named Dussardier, another law student. Frederic and his friends go to visit him to offer him help, but Dussardier does not pick up on this. Hussonnet employer's is Jacques Arnoux, who runs the L'Art Industriel. Frederic wants to use Hussonnet to meet Jacques again and he fakes running into Hussonnet to raise the issue. The two spend the evening arguing about poetry. Frederic asks to meet Jacques again and Hussonnet consents to taking him. When they visit, during a social gathering, they find themselves surrounded by members of the art community. Jacques and Frederic find time to have a conversation. We meet two artists, Regimbart and Pellerin.

Frederic sees Pellerin again and finds a sketch of Marie Arnoux in Pellerin's portfolio. Pellerin tells him that Jacques has lots of affairs, but that Marie is a kind woman who stays loyal to him. Frederic admires Jacques because of his taste in art, however. In fact, Jacques is not an honest businessman. At a later meeting, Frederic comes to see Jacques for his true nature. Charles comes back to Paris. They plan a dinner but the day Charles gets back, Frederic blows him off to eat with Jacques and Marie. When Frederic arrives, he finds Marie devastatingly beautiful. He is flattered that she recalls meeting him. They have a wonderful meal and great conversation. When Marie leaves, the now all-male dinner guests start to engage in bawdy discussions about women; Frederic thinks their attitudes are disgusting. Later, Marie comes back to display a painting Jacques bought for her; Jacques gives her a kiss and Frederic is jealous. Marie finally talks to Frederic, making him happy but he is shy around her. She sings for the group, and does so beautifully. When he laves dinner, he vows to win Marie's heart by becoming a painter.

Chapters 3 and 4 Analysis

Chapters 3 and 4 introduce more characters and deepen our knowledge of the main characters. First, we meet Monsieurs Roque, Dambreuse, Hussonnett, Regimbart, Pellerin, Dussardier, and Martinon, among others. The reader becomes more acquainted with the art scene in Paris and the attitudes of many of the artists in the community. They are, in one way, shallow. They are pretentious and they gossip, although Frederic admires many of them. Frederic also discovers that he does not have an automatic 'in' within elite French social circles, given that he is snubbed both by Monsieur Dambreuse and Senecal. He must engage in some social climbing and networking.

However, despite the many characters and events of these chapters, the most important thing for the reader to note is our deepening knowledge of the main characters. We discover that Frederic feels alienated from his life. He is unhappy and aimless. He does not seem interested in his law studies, but neither does he seem to have the energy to complete any of his side projects, like his novel. He is desperate to engage in social climbing, but he is often disillusioned with those he initially respects. This is most clearly true about Jacques Arnoux, who he initially admires as a great art connoisseur but later discovers cheats his clients and cheats on his wife. We do not catch much of a glimpse into the personality of Madame Arnoux but Pellerin tells Frederic that she is widely regarded as 'pure' and 'virtuous.' She does not respond to Jacques's affairs with affairs of her own. In the second half of chapter 4, Frederic finds himself increasingly drawn to her.

This section contains 858 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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