Part 2, Chapter 2 Summary

Emma climbs out of the coach, and the other passengers follow. Charles has fallen asleep, and somebody has to wake him up. Monsieur Homais greets the Bovarys and explains that he will join them for dinner at the hotel. They are also joined by a clerk named Monsieur Léon Dupuis, an educated young man who feels bored and stifled in Yonville.

During the meal, Monsieur Homais tells the Bovarys all about their new town. In particular, he tells them about the wonderful climate in great detail. He compares the local atmosphere to that of other regions and lists off the town’s high and low yearly temperatures according to three different scales of measurement.

Neither Monsieur Léon nor Emma Bovary shows the slightest interest in Monsieur Homais’s impromptu climate lecture. They chat separately, bemoaning the annoyance of living in small, boring towns. They agree that they would both prefer to live in mountains or near the sea. As their conversation progresses, they find that they share similar taste in music and books.

Emma ends up talking animatedly with Monsieur Léon for two hours. They exclaim about how the characters of books can transport them to whole other worlds and be, in Monsieur Léon’s words, “a refuge from life’s disillusionments.” During this conversation, Monsieur Léon grows so comfortable with Emma—whom he calls Madame Bovary—that he places his foot on a rung of her chair.

Meanwhile, Monsieur Homais and Monsieur Bovary converse in a very different manner. Monsieur Homais continually drones on about dry facts, attempting to impress everyone else with his vast knowledge. When he hears that Emma likes books, he immediately offers to loan her his. He lists off the titles of the books he owns, but his personal library does not include the romantic titles Emma prefers. Monsieur Bovary pipes up now and then to tell Monsieur Homais about his work or his wife. When he talks about Emma, he does so in the third person, as if she is not sitting right next to him.

After the meal, the Bovarys walk across the dark street to their new home. It is larger than their old house, but it is also chilly and unwelcoming. The movers have dumped all of their possessions haphazardly on the floor. Still, Emma goes to bed feeling hopeful:

She refused to believe that things could be the same in different places; and since what had gone before was so bad, what was to come must certainly be better.