Part 2, Chapter 3 Summary

People in Yonville respect Monsieur Léon because he is educated, quiet, respectful, and artistic. In spite of this, he dislikes the dusty little town. His life is dull, so dull that the dinner with the Bovarys feels like “a notable event.” To him, Emma is a real lady, far different and far more fascinating than the other women of Yonville. He is disappointed when he learns that they are not planning to eat with him at the hotel every night.

The pharmacist, Monsieur Homais, helps the Bovarys as much as he can during their transition. He makes this effort not out of kindness, but because he needs to be on Monsieur Bovary’s good side. Monsieur Homais frequently practices medicine without a license, seeing patients in his back room and prescribing medicine for their ailments. He has been legally reprimanded for these activities in the past, and he is not eager to suffer such consequences again. He hopes that Monsieur Bovary will become a good friend and will forgive any misdemeanors he happens to notice taking place in the pharmacy’s back room.

At first, Charles cannot seem to attract any patients in Yonville. He worries a great deal about money, but he is very happy about his wife’s pregnancy. Emma does not exactly relish the idea of becoming a mother, but she does warm to the idea over time. She hopes that the child will be a boy because boys have more freedom; she dislikes the idea of bringing someone into the world who will have no control over her own happiness.

The child turns out to be a girl. After the birth, the people of Yonville congratulate the Bovarys. Monsieur Homais, who is chosen as the child’s godfather, brings gifts of sweets from the pharmacy. Charles’s parents come for a long visit, and Emma finds out that she enjoys the company of the elder Monsieur Bovary.

The baby, Berthe, is sent to live with a wet nurse at the edge of town. One day Emma decides to go see the child. She is still convalescing from giving birth, and she feels weak on the walk. She meets Monsieur Léon on the way, and he ends up joining her to let her lean on him as she walks. The townspeople notice this and gossip about it.

On the way home, Emma and Monsieur Léon walk along the river, talking little but feeling an emotional connection they do not dare to speak aloud. At the Bovary house, Emma runs inside. After she is gone, Monsieur Léon cannot bring himself to work for the rest of the day. He climbs a hill and lies down under a tree, thinking about how few opportunities he has to meet people who understand him. Emma is the only interesting woman of his social class in all of Yonville, but she is married. He sees no hope of growing close to her.