Reality finally sinks in for Madame Loisel when she loses the necklace and, instead of admitting this to Madame Forestier, she and her husband decide to mortgage their future and pay for the lost jewelry. The change is an unexpected turn for Mathilde, who was never satisifed with her husband's government job nor their relatively simple lifestyle. In her fantasy world, she believed she was deserving of the riches of the wealthy and that she was living a life of "poverty;" but after losing the diamond necklace, she discovers what real poverty is like. As for the change, she sees the drastic measures her husband takes to make up for her mistake. He is forced to
... borrow, asking a thousand francs of one, five hundred of another, five louis here, three louis there. He gave notes, took up ruinous obligations, dealt with usurers and all the race of lenders. He compromised all the rest of his life... and, frightened by the trouble yet to come, by the black misery that was about to fall upon him, by the prospect of all the physical privations and moral tortures that he was to suffer...
Her pride seems to disappear and, for once, she thinks not only of herself. She foresees the "privations" to come for the family and, surprisingly,
She bore her part, however, with sudden heroism. That dreadful debt must be paid. She would pay it.
Her servant had performed all of the duties of the house before the necklace was lost. Now, Mathilde does all of her own housework as well as taking on cleaning duties of others. Her transformation is both mental and physical: She accepts the burden she has placed upon herself, and
... had become the woman of impoverished households--strong and hard and rough.
Perhaps it is the knowledge that her fantasy came true, if only for a few hours--"to please, to be envied, to be charming, to be sought after," to be the belle of the ball--that allows her to continue the "tortures" of a common working woman until her debt is paid.