The French Lieutenant's Woman Chapters 7-9 Summary
by John Fowles

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Chapters 7-9 Summary

Sam, Charles’s servant, attempts to give his master a shave. Charles makes Sam stop when he questions Sam about his clumsy courtship of a young kitchen maid at the home of Mrs. Tranter, Ernestina’s aunt. Sam has developed a crush on the young girl but is not very confident in pursuing her. Charles has a good relationship with Sam, who is ten years Charles’s junior. He suggests that Sam take a different approach with young maid. Charles enjoys Sam’s company because he is easy to talk to and reminds Charles of conversations he used to have with other boys when he was in school. Most of the talk between Charles and Sam, when not focused on work that needs to be done, is about women.

Later that day, Charles learns that Ernestina is not feeling well and wants to be left alone, so he decides to pursue his most enjoyable hobby, that of searching for fossils. His specialty is the echinoderm, or petrified sea urchin. He packs his gear and heads to the shore. Charles becomes so absorbed in his search that he lingers too long on the beach and finds that the tide has cut him off from the path he took along the coastline. To return home, he must climb up the cliffs and walk back through the woods.

Meanwhile, the story returns to Sarah, who is not feeling well. Mrs. Poulteney calls a doctor, who prescribes more fresh air for Sarah. Mrs. Poulteney wants to keep an eye on Sarah and so has given Sarah very little free time. The doctor tells Mrs. Poulteney that Sarah is the kind of woman who needs to be outside more to help dispel her melancholy. Therefore, Sarah is given additional opportunities to take walks on her own.

Mrs. Fairley, Mrs. Poulteney’s head servant, is a bit jealous of the attention Mrs. Poulteney is paying to Sarah. The narrator points out that Mrs. Fairley is nothing like her name might suggest. She also envies Sarah’s friendship with the other servants and the smaller amount of work Sarah performs for her pay. Sarah’s primary duties are simply to read to Mrs. Poulteney and be present when there are guests.

Mrs. Fairley does...

(The entire section is 570 words.)