The French Lieutenant's Woman Chapters 40-42 Summary
by John Fowles

Start Your Free Trial

Download The French Lieutenant's Woman Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Chapters 40-42 Summary

Charles is very drunk and has decided to go to bed with the prostitute. He follows her to her room and waits by the fire while she goes into the next room. When she returns, she tells him she has a baby girl but the child will be quiet. Then she undresses and eventually leads him to bed.

Charles is physically aroused as he comes near her. However, he is also fighting nausea. He is able to hold it back until he asks her name. The prostitute replies, “Sarah.” At this, Charles can no longer control the spasms in his stomach and pukes all over the pillow.

The next chapter finds Charles at his London home. Sam and a kitchen maid are discussing the recent strange changes in Charles’s behavior. The maid says that Charles has been in a black mood. Sam says he is bound to secrecy but hints that their master is involved in a lot of strange new behaviors.

The story then flashes back to when Charles is in the prostitute’s room. After he vomits, the girl cleans him up and runs outside to find him a carriage to take him home. While she is gone, her baby daughter wakes up and begins to cry. Charles looks out the window, hoping to find the mother, but no one is on the street. He walks into the baby’s room and tries to talk her back to sleep. The baby responds by crying louder. Charles has no choice but to pick the baby up. He holds her and then tries to distract her by letting her play with his watch. By the time the prostitute returns, the baby is asleep in Charles’s arms and a carriage is waiting for Charles outside the door. Before leaving, Charles leaves extra money on a side table. Before his carriage drives away, the young woman runs outside and thanks him for being so kind.

The story returns to the morning after, when Charles is at home. Sam confronts Charles shortly after Charles has awakens. Sam tells Charles that he plans on asking Mary to be his wife. He proceeds by explaining that as soon as he can, he would also like to start his own business. Charles is surprised by this news. He does not want to lose Sam. Nevertheless, he asks about the...

(The entire section is 596 words.)