Sentimental Education - Part Three, Chapters 1 and 2 Summary & Analysis

Gustave Flaubert and Mary Ruefle
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Part Three, Chapters 1 and 2 Summary

The cries of revolution pervade the events of chapter one. The king has been overthrown and many want to establish a democracy. They are also inclined towards socialism. However, the revolutionaries differ on what they want. Frederic and Rosanette wake up hearing gunfire. Frederic rushes out into the street and is indifferent to the fighting. He goes to the palace and helps storm it. He also links up with Hussonet; they find Dussardier. All are happy that the republican forces have won.

The next day, Frederic tries to find Charles, but he has been appointed to a regional commissionership. He returns Rosanette; she pretends to like the new republic, and the two of them stroll through the city. In a few days, Frederic runs into Pellerin and Regimbart, who disagree about how the new institutions should be structured. Many want to expropriate the property of the rich, which makes the upper classes nervous, especially Monsieur Dambreuse. He recruits Frederic to run for the assembly, and promises him benefits if Frederic protects his holdings. During a nomination meeting, Frederic gives a speech, but it is too socialistic for Monsieur Dambreuse's tastes. Frederic's nomination is shot down by Senecal because he refused to contribute to Hussonnett's political journal before the revolution. Frederic is embarrassed, and leaves to find Rosanette; she is angry with him and blames him for the revolution. She is also involved in an ongoing dispute with Mademoiselle Vatnaz about the role of women in society. Rosanette is a traditionalist, where Vatnaz is an ardent feminist. However, when Vatnaz gives a speech, she discovers that Delmar has given Vatnaz a piece of jewelry, and realizes that Vatnaz and Delmar are lovers. This creates some tension between the women.

Rosanette maintains that she loves Frederic and cares nothing for the principle. She decides to find a new apartment; Frederic aids her move. Frederic spends his time there, but one day finds Jacques coming downstairs. Apparently Rosanette is still sleeping with him. Jacques asks Frederic to take his guard shift one night, in part so he could have some alone time with Rosanette. The two men sleep at the camp. Frederic watches Jacques sleep with his gun and wishes that he would accidentally shoot himself. Jacques is equally suspicious of Frederic. The next day, Frederic runs into Martinon and Dambreuse, who has just run for an assembly seat; Frederic is angry, and Dambreuse makes excuses. The assembly is making new political demands on the people and is creating anti-poverty programs. They are also expanding the army. The old alliances amongst the republicans are fracturing and middle-class and lower-class are fighting one another. Dambreuse looks for all the allies he can, including Jacques. This further upsets Frederic, who then forces Rosanette to choose between him and Jacques. Rosanette chooses him and they leave for Fontainbleau. They find great peace there, spending time talking about nothing and enjoying each other's company. Frederic believes that he will be happy for the remainder of his life. Rosanette tells him many of her secrets, such as that she had been to England and had once attempted suicide. However, during a walk they encounter some troops from the city. Frederic learns that Dussardier has been hurt and goes to see him, despite Rosanette's objections. Frederic has troubles finding Dussardier, but when he does Mademoiselle Vantaz is nursing him. Roque comes to Paris to join the army and Louise accompanies him. She is eager to see Frederic.

The violence in Paris settles somewhat, enough to where the Dambreuses feel comfortable hosting a party. All the book's major characters are there. Early in the evening, Martinon seeks permission from the Dambreuses to marry their niece Cecile despite Madame Dambreuse planning for Cecile to marry Cisy. Madame Dambreuse also objects because - and this becomes clear - she is Martinon's mistress. The guests talk about recent political events, arguing in detail about what shape French political institutions should take and how the uprisings should be dealt with. They are pleased that their fortunes have been retained, however; on that they agree. Frederic and Marie speak barely a word to one another, and we find Cisy attempting to salvage his chances with Cecile; Martinon rebukes Cisy by raising his embarrassing conduct during the duel with Frederic. Next, Frederic is yet again embarrassed when Roque inquires about the portrait of Rosanette that he commissioned - the guests all know that he and Rosanette are lovers. A man named Fumichon, a capitalist, defends the right of private property, while Jacques tries to defend one variant of socialism. Dambreuse admits that there is some logic to the socialist position, much to his chagrin and Hussonett shares some socialist literature with him. Louise is pained by Frederic's relationship with Rosanette and tells Marie that she is in love with him. Marie tells her to stay away from him, obviously expressing her hurt. Madame Dambreuse prods Frederic about Louise doting on him so. He is pleased that someone is interested in him and generally feels confident at the gathering. As he is leaving, Louise confronts him, demanding that he confess his love to her and that he ask for her to marry him. Frederic rebuffs her and leaves for Rosanette's. Louise and Caroline, her maid, travel to Frederic's house late at night only to find him not there; they discover that Frederic is practically living with Rosanette and Louise is devastated.

Part Three, Chapters 1 and 2 Analysis

Part Three introduces some political themes. The older political order is collapsing, and being replaced by a new, democratic order. Revolution has poured into the streets and there is some bloodshed as the monarchy is overthrown and the remaining interest groups tussle for the political upper hand. We find Frederic and the other members of the Parisian upper class debating political ideas regularly and getting involved in the new democratic politics. Some of them are socialists; others are traditional capitalists. Frederic and Jacques find themselves somewhere in between. We are also introduced to Mademoiselle Vatnaz's early version of feminism in contrast to Rosanette who represents a more traditional attitude. We find the Monsieur Dambreuse is the consummate opportunist, doing what he can to protect his fortune, from attempting to use Frederic as his political pawn to making nice with the new regime.

Frederic seems to have settled on Rosanette for the time being. While sometimes finding her annoying, they continue to grow closer. He eventually forces her to give up her others lovers, including Jacques and they abscond to the countryside and spend some romantic days together. Frederic finally has love in his life. He feels happy, excited about the new political age and his love life with Rosanette. Somehow his life has come to have meaning. As the dust of the revolution settles, we can see that Frederic's melancholy attitude is settling as well. While he continues his tradition of being embarrassed by his friends, he has a kind of confidence that has returned to him. His only problem for the time being is Louise, who is desperate to marry him. He must resist her because should he marry her, his friends will think that he has lost all of his money.

This section contains 1,213 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
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