Back on the street, Hussonnet reveals that he works at Monsieur Arnoux’s magazine, L’Art Industriel. Frédéric and Hussonnet exchange addresses and promise to meet again. Reluctant to visit Hussonnet too soon, Frédéric deliberately runs into him one evening, and they go to Frédéric’s apartment to talk. Hussonnet wants to become famous in the theater; he writes musical comedies and songs. He insults Frédéric’s books of poetry, written by poets from the Romantic school who he claims had no common sense. Angry, Frédéric gets to the point and asks Hussonnet if he can take him to Arnoux’s house. Hussonnet agrees.
Soon, they visit the Arnouxes’ house. It is full of artists, and Hussonnet engages in a passionate debate about the role of money in art. Arnoux invites him and Frédéric back. Various people come in and out of the shop below Arnoux’s home, including a man named Regimbart, and the afternoon wears on. Discussion turns to politics and gossip. Soon people begin to leave, and Frédéric walks for a while with an artist named Pellerin. They agree to see each other again.
Pellerin is a mostly unsuccessful artist who has made nothing but sketches. When Frédéric visits him, he sometimes finds Pellerin in bed, having been out at the theater late. He never mentions Madame Arnoux to Frédéric, but one day Frédéric sees a sketch that resembles her in one of Pellerin’s sketchbooks. Pellerin says Arnoux has many mistresses, but that Madame Arnoux is virtuous.
Frédéric also spends time with Regimbart, another friend of Arnoux’s, who drinks a lot, plays billiards, and does not do any work. Arnoux admires him, and Frédéric tolerates him for this reason only.
Though Frédéric looks up to Arnoux as a man who values the arts, Arnoux actually is a shrewd art seller who often cheats his customers. However, he thinks of himself as honest.
Arnoux actually does not live at the home where Frédéric has been spending so much time. Frédéric accompanies Regimbart and Pellerin to a bar, where the two older men complain about Arnoux. Frédéric stands up for Arnoux, but when he goes back to see him under the pretense of looking for a lost notebook, he suddenly sees Arnoux as vulgar. He leaves, convinced he won’t be back.