The French Lieutenant's Woman Chapters 30-33 Summary
by John Fowles

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Chapters 30-33 Summary

The story shifts back in time to the day Mrs. Poulteney dismissed Sarah. Mrs. Fairley called for Sarah to tell her that Mrs. Poulteney was waiting for her and wanted to see her immediately. Mrs. Fairley had never liked Sarah or the favors she received from Mrs. Poulteney. Mrs. Fairley had always been jealous of Sarah and was relishing witnessing Sarah’s punishment and subsequent departure. When Sarah enters the room where Mrs. Poulteney is waiting for her, Mrs. Fairley closes the door and stands on the other side so she can eavesdrop.

Mrs. Poulteney is unusually quiet; she takes her time to say what she must. After a long delay, Mrs. Poulteney points to an envelope and tells Sarah that inside are her wages for the month. She then informs Sarah that she must leave no later than the next morning. When Sarah asks why she is being dismissed, Mrs. Poulteney acts offended by the question. Sarah informs Mrs. Poulteney that she can keep her money because it is coated in hypocrisy. Sarah wants no more to do with the old widow. Before leaving the room, Sarah tells Mrs. Poulteney to use the money to buy instruments of torture for whomever she next invites to stay in her home. Mrs. Poulteney nearly faints at Sarah’s boldness. When Sarah opens the door, Mrs. Fairley looks in and sees Mrs. Poulteney looking pale, and she accuses Sarah of having murdered Mrs. Poulteney.

Then the story skips forward to the scene the next day, when Charles enters the barn. Charles finds Sarah sleeping and turns to leave. But when he reaches the door, as if against his will, he calls out Sarah’s name and she awakens. She is obviously pleased he has come. Charles is torn in his emotions and does not know if he should run away or stay. Sarah comes to him and admits that she purposefully let Mrs. Fairley see her walk out of the woods. She also suggests that she cannot control the strong emotions she has for him.

Charles notices a disparity between the stories in the book Dr. Grogan lent him (about women with...

(The entire section is 553 words.)