Frédéric buys painting supplies and asks Pellerin to teach him to paint. He takes Pellerin to his room, where discussion about politics and art ensues among Deslauriers, Senecal, and Pellerin. When Frédéric and Deslauriers are alone, they plan their future and, in the days that follow, enjoy a comfortable domestic routine. Frédéric, who is supporting them financially, cannot pay all his bills, in part because he buys so much art at Arnoux’s shop.
Frédéric attempts to visit Madame Arnoux alone, but he is unsuccessful. Meanwhile, he grows closer to Arnoux and continues to attend dinner at his home. Deslauriers, tired of being left alone while Frédéric dines with the Arnouxes, begins having friends over, including Hussonnet, who brings Dussardier. They all talk about women.
Deslauriers tries to get Frédéric to invite him to Arnoux’s house, but Frédéric is embarrassed by Deslauriers’s scruffy appearance and avoids the issue.
Frédéric does poorly on his law school exams, but his spirits rise when he learns that Arnoux will be out of town. Frédéric vows to visit Madame Arnoux, and he spends all his money on new clothes. He tosses a coin three times to help him decide whether he should visit her, and each toss fates that he should. However, when he rings the bell at the residence, Arnoux answers—Madame Arnoux is out of town. Frédéric and Arnoux have an awkward conversation, and Frédéric accidentally breaks the ivory handle of a parasol lying near him. Frédéric assumes it is Madame Arnoux’s and apologizes. For three months after this, he wallows in boredom and misery.
Frédéric continues to ingratiate himself with Arnoux, and Arnoux frequently takes him to dinner. One night, Frédéric returns the favor by taking him and Regimbart out. Regimbart complains about everything. Arnoux reveals that Madame Arnoux has returned home.
Frédéric visits her the next day, but the encounter is dull and awkward. Nevertheless, she allows him to join her when she runs an errand, and they walk arm in arm. Before he can tell her he loves her, she dismisses him. Still energized by the encounter, Frédéric extols Madame Arnoux’s virtues and connects her to everything in Paris. However, he thinks that it is unlikely that she will become his mistress.