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CHAPTER 7

The next day, the bailiff (a local officer of the court) arrives at the house to make an inventory of Emma and Charles' possessions, though Charles knows nothing about what's going on. Emma travels to Rouen to visit all the bankers who might lend her money, but they all refuse. She asks Leon for help but all he can do is promise to talk to a rich friend and hope that his friend will lend him the money.

Emma returns to Yonville in the same carriage as Homais. They pass the blind man singing at the bottom of the hill. When Homais tosses the man a coin, the beggar squats on his haunches, in thanks, like a starving dog, and Emma tosses him her last coin.


NOTE:

You see Emma slowly sinking to the same level as the beggar. Like him, she must go around asking people for money. Tossing him her last coin is a symbolic attempt to place herself on a higher level and to retain some sense of her own dignity and worth-but it's also a sign that she is giving up her worldly possessions in preparation for death.

The next morning Emma awakes to the voices of a crowd in the town square. A notice advertising a public auction has been posted, and Justin is trying to tear it down. Emma, seeing that all her property is for sale, goes to the house of the notary, Monsieur Guillaumin, to arouse his sympathy. He asks her why she never came to him before for help, then drops to his knees and begins to kiss her hand. She leaps to her feet, indignant, and demands the money. But when all he can say is "I love you," she rushes out of his house. Is it finally dawning on Emma that she is just one step removed from prostitution?

She goes to Binet and appeals to him as well. Notice that Flaubert describes this scene indirectly, through the eyes of the mayor's wife and a friend who watch Emma and Binet from a distance. Emma seems to be making a proposition to Binet; whether it's erotic or not you don't know. Suddenly Binet cries out: "Madame! You can't be serious!" The two old women turn and see Emma race down the street.

Needing time to think things over, Emma goes to the home of the wet-nurse Madame Rollet. She remembers Leon's promise and sends Madame Rollet to her house to see if he's arrived with the money. Not surprisingly, there's no sign of Leon. As a last resort, Emma thinks of seeking help from Rodolphe. She's certain that if she reminds him of their past love for one another, he'll come to her rescue. What's your prediction of her success?

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