Chapter 45 Summary
Undine cries in Moffatt’s presence but her tears do not seem to affect him. She asks him not to leave her. She explains that in France all husbands have affairs, and their wives do the same. As long as everyone is discreet, not flaunting their extramarital partnerships in public, there is no shame brought upon the families. She proposes that they do the same. With a sense of sincerity that baffles her, she also tells Moffatt that she was wrong to have not fought against her parents and remained his wife. He is the only one for whom she ever had true feelings.
Moffatt walks away to the other side of the room. He reiterates what Undine has just proposed. He asks if what she wants is for them to sneak into one another’s rooms and have brief sexual encounters and then pretend they are merely casual friends. Undine tells him that is all she can do. She is married. She has converted to Catholicism, and the Catholic Church prohibits divorce.
When Moffatt remains on the other side of the room, the distance between them makes Undine wonder if Moffatt is still attracted to her. She asks him if there is another woman in his life. He says none of the women matter; that is not an issue in what they are discussing. He hesitates because he does not want Undine in the way she is proposing. He reminds her of how she had come to him when they lived in Apex. He mentions how she was not afraid to be seen in public with him then. She defied everyone and walked down Main Street with him, holding his hand, when everyone else in town had turned against him. He had felt disappointed with her, though, when she did not stand up and defy her father’s demand that she divorce him. In time, he learned to forgive her because she was so young. But she is not as youthful now. Some of her beauty has faded, he tells her. He still wants her, though, but only if she is strong enough to become his wife.
Undine cannot imagine what Moffatt is asking her to do. He does not understand how confined her life has become. It is not clear whether Undine is reluctant because she does not want to let her connections to the European society completely disintegrate or if she truly believes she has no choice but to remain in her unhappy marriage.
Moffatt does not seem to care what Undine is considering. He demands either that she come with him as his wife or that they shake hands and say good-bye forever. If she wants to be with him, he will be leaving in two days. He will book her a passage on the same ship. All she need do is to show up. He will take care of all the details of her divorce.