Sentimental Education - Chapters 5 and 6 Summary & Analysis

Gustave Flaubert and Mary Ruefle
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Chapters 5 and 6 Summary

Frederic takes up artistry under the tutelage of Pellerin. Senecal returns Frederic's inquiry and Pellerin, Senecal, Charles and Frederic discuss politics and art at Pellerin's house. Charles and Frederic are happy to be together again, and spend several days living together and thinking about their futures. However, they have difficulty making ends meet because Frederic is squandering all of his money buying art from Jacques in order to see Marie again. He even attempts to see her alone, but fails; all the while, however, he is cultivating his friendship with Jacques and often goes to dinner at his house. Since Charles and Frederic live together and Frederic often blows Charles off to spend time with the Arnoux's, Charles begins to have friends over, including Hussonnet and Dussardier. Charles eventually gets fed up with being left out and attempts to invite himself to one of the Arnoux's get-togethers, but Frederic is embarrassed by him.

Frederic experiences some ups and downs - he gets low marks on his tests at law school but discovers an opportunity to spend time with Marie when Jacques takes a trip to Germany. He buys new apparel and attempts to divine whether he should attempt to see her. Unfortunately, when he visits, he finds that it is Marie who is away and Jacques who is at home. They speak briefly and Frederic leaves. The next three months leave Frederic continually unhappy. He spends more time with Jacques and learns that Marie has finally returned home. Frederic takes the opportunity to see her but their meeting is lackluster. However, Frederic requests to accompany her on an errand and she allows it; he is ecstatic when they walk together, with his arm under hers. He feels the urge to confess his love but she must leave before he has the chance; he is now completely obsessed, and thinks of her as perfect despite his holding out little hope that she would consider a relationship with him. Charles thinks that Frederic is too caught up with Marie and tries to help him refocus by taking him to a social gathering at a place known as the Alhambra. The now group of friends - Frederic, Charles, Hussonnet, Dussardier and a new fellow named Cisy spend time dancing with various women, but Frederic is distracted. He is surprised to find Jacques flirting with Madamoiselle Vatnaz and decides to speak with them rather than spend time with his friends. His friends do not seem to mind - particularly Charles, who has vowed to sleep with any woman of his choosing. Frederic finds himself depressed and alone.

A few days later, Frederic finds himself with two simultaneous dinner engagements - one with Monsieur Dambreuse and a dinner with the Arnoux's. Of course, Frederic prefers to go to dinner with the Arnoux's, particularly because he knows that Marie will be there, but he initially decides to go to dinner with Dambreuse since the Monsieur had been interested enough in Frederic to invite him over; furthermore, Charles pressured him into this same decision. Dambreuse cancels and Frederic can see Marie. He decides to buy a replacement parasol for one he snapped during a conversation with Jacques. However, when he reaches dinner and presents her with the gift, she is surprised; she never had a broken parasol. Apparently, the parasol was owned by one of Jacques's mistresses; Marie and Frederic have a good conversation while Jacques is buying Marie roses to distract her from the parasol incident. Jacques gives her the flowers but Marie quietly throws them away. Frederic gives them back to her and she then casts them out of a window. She is upset and Frederic is surprised to see her crying. He now knows she is hurt Jacques's affairs. While pursuing Marie at a later event, he has a nice conversation with Monsieur Dambreuse and his wife. Frederic returns home to get some extra money but learns from his mother that he is low on funds because of the debts she had to Roque. Incidentally, Roque has reduced the shame he bore in the community by marrying his maid.

Frederic can no longer afford to live the high life in Paris. He is more depressed than usual and faced with the prospect of returning to live with his mother or getting a small apartment near her. In his absence, Charles lets him know that Senecal has moved in. Frederic is horrified by the thought that Senecal would sell his art. He tries to rationalize his suffering - his lack of money will force him to create better art; this will in turn help him to win Marie's heart. He tries to return to Paris but his mother wants him close to home; he takes a mundane job but soon quits - he punishes himself by wishing that Marie would stop thinking about him and vowing to stay out of Paris forever. Frederic is once against despondent and directionless. In the meanwhile, Frederic and Roque cultivate a relationship; Roque has a child with his housekeeper/wife, but, in keeping with his roguish nature, has fallen in love with another woman; shockingly, even after regaining his reputation, he now lives with both his wife and Catherine, the woman he is in love with. Frederic becomes close with Louise, Roque's child. During this time of trouble, Frederic's hopes are hardly raised when Barthelemy, his rich uncle, decides to visit. Barthelemy is near death, and while Frederic could inherit his money, he refuses to look forward to receiving any. His mother, however, approaches matters differently, placing her hopes on Frederic becoming wealthy; after Barthelemy leaves without announcing his heir, both Frederic and his mother despair of their poverty.

Their despair, however, was for nothing; when Bathelemy dies, Frederic inherits his fortune and becomes wealth; Frederic's thoughts turn to Marie. He can now triumphantly return to Paris and enter high society. Louise's mother dies, but Louise does not grieve. She is, however, upset by Frederic's departure.

Chapters 5 and 6 Analysis

Chapters 5 and 6 build steadily towards the climax of the book. Lengthy Chapter 5 is full of Frederic's attempts to get closer to Marie but he finds most of them thwarted. Between attempts, Frederic feels that his life meaningless. He struggles with his studies and makes little progress with his artwork. He spends time with his friends, but mostly continues to build a relationship with Jacques Arnoux that he might ultimately win over Jacques's wife. At one point, Frederic realizes that Marie is aware of Jacques's indiscretions. He vows then (as he did earlier in the chapter) to win her heart. Chapter 5 ends where Chapter 6 begins - Frederic discovers that he is broke and must move back to live with his mother. He is even more depressed there than he was in Paris during Marie's absence. However, Chapter 6 ends with Frederic inheriting a great fortune from his uncle and planning his triumphant return to Paris. We see the plot build towards a probably relationship with Marie or at least some resolution to his obsession. His interest in her continues to grow, as do his methods of garnering her love. The chapters are marked by many ups and downs - brief encounters with Marie that energize and overpower him, contrasted with long periods of unhappiness. The chapters have the feel of a rollercoaster but with far more downs than ups.

What we learn about Frederic in these chapters is that his career does not matter to him at all, nor does his wealth. He does not even feel terribly attached to his friends. The only thing that makes him happy is Marie and his anticipation of seeing Marie. Without her, his life has no meaning.

This section contains 1,289 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
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