Part 3, Chapter 10 Summary

Monsieur Rouault has ridden to Yonville without knowing for certain whether Emma is alive or dead. He received a letter from Monsieur Homais a few days ago, but the wording was so unclear that Monsieur Rouault was left with the impression that his daughter might only be very sick. Throughout his journey, he has been tormenting himself, alternately seeing death omens and inventing imaginary miracles. When he finally learns the truth, he is inconsolable.

The funeral is acted out properly, according to convention. Charles forces himself to be stoic throughout the ceremony and the burial. Privately he wishes he could throw everyone out and grieve alone, without regard for appearances—but instead he sits in a church pew and tries to force himself to feel religious. Monsieur Rouault manages to control his emotions as well.

The townspeople are all dressed up in their mourning clothes, and the priests and pallbearers wear grave expressions. Everyone makes small talk about how sad it is for such a young woman to die. During these conversations, all of the villagers seem to forget that they were the gossips who spread rumors about Emma and the debtors who conspired to ruin her. Whenever anyone will listen, Monsieur Homais points out how important he has been to Charles during this difficult time.

After the funeral, Monsieur Rouault says that he has no words of comfort for Charles. He leaves immediately, explaining that he is too upset to stay, and that he doubts he will want to see Charles or his granddaughter ever again. He hastens to add that he is not angry, but that he just cannot stand to see people who remind him of his daughter.

Charles’s mother sees Emma’s death as an opportunity. She always resented Charles’s deep love for his wife. Now the elder Madame Bovary thinks that she may become the most important woman in her son’s life again. She sits up with him late into the night, talking and listening.

Rodolphe and Léon both avoid the funeral. Rodolphe spends the day in the woods, trying not to think about Emma. By nightfall, he is so tired that he drifts off to sleep. Léon sleeps well also. Charles remains awake, thinking of the love he has lost. Justin stays up late, too, tormented by his secret knowledge about how Emma got the arsenic that killed her. In the darkest hours of the night, he sneaks out to the graveyard and sobs over the new grave.