Part 3, Chapter 2 Summary

Emma returns to Yonville, where she is met with a message asking her to stop by the Homais household before she returns home. She finds Monsieur Homais shouting at his assistant, Justin, for entering a room that contains a bottle of arsenic, a powerful poison. Emma hovers on the sidelines as Monsieur Homais berates the boy. When she manages to grab Monsieur Homais's attention, he informs her that her father-in-law is dead.

After hearing this bad news, Emma goes home and finds Charles distraught. She asks a few polite questions about his father. Then she falls silent, thinking of Léon. Charles assumes that she is being quiet because she is grieving. He continues in this assumption throughout his period of mourning.

Not long after this, the Bovarys receive a visit from Monsieur Lheureux, the shopkeeper who lent Charles money during Emma’s illness. He wants them to use some of the money from Charles’s inheritance to pay down their debts. Charles’s mother happens to be visiting at the time, and he is embarrassed to let her find out that he owes money. Instead of speaking with Monsieur Lheureux himself, Charles sends Emma to take care of the matter.

During the discussion of the Bovarys' debt, Monsieur Lheureux hints that Emma should obtain power of attorney so that she can make financial decisions regarding Charles’s inheritance. This way, Emma will be able to spend money however she wants without bothering her husband about it. Monsieur Lheureux's argument is smooth, but it is clear that he is manipulating her. He knows that Emma is less educated in money matters than her husband, and that it will be easier to convince her to continue borrowing money at bad interest rates.

Emma likes Monsieur Lheureux’s suggestion, and not only because it will allow her to spend money freely. She forms a manipulative plan of her own to convince her husband to let her visit Léon. She unfolds this plan slowly and carefully. While her mother-in-law remains in town, Emma acts sweet and thoughtful, pretending to care only about her husband’s loss of a father and not at all about the inheritance.

After Charles’s mother leaves town, Emma brings up the power of attorney. Charles always thinks well of her, so he agrees readily to sign the necessary papers. Emma says that the town notary is not very trustworthy. She suggests that she should make a trip to Rouen to visit Léon, who is certain to do the paperwork properly. Charles agrees that this is a good idea, and soon Emma rushes away on a three-day trip to see her lover.