Rosanette loses her case against Arnoux, but Deslauriers is certain she can win on a different charge. He recommends her case to Senecal. Deslauriers goes to Nogent, claiming that he is going to buy a law practice, and spends the summer with Roque. He begins angling to win over Louise. He tells the Roques that Frédéric is in love with someone else and has a child. Madame Moreau learns about Frédéric’s impending marriage to Madame Dambreuse.

Rosanette loses her case, but Deslauriers helps her wins her case against Arnoux, thanks to Senecal. When Frédéric goes into her room to congratulate her, she points out the baby, who is very sick. The baby dies. Frédéric hires Pellerin to paint a portrait of the dead child. While he paints, Pellerin reveals that Arnoux, because he is now poorer than ever thanks to Rosanette’s lawsuit, is leaving Paris with his family unless he can procure twelve thousand francs. Frédéric rushes out of the house.

Analysis: Part Three, Chapters 3 and 4

As Frédéric struggles to make a place for himself in society, he makes significant advances in his relationships with Madame Arnoux, Rosanette, and Madame Dambreuse, but all three women begin to overlap and interfere with one another’s relationships, albeit unwittingly. He encounters Madame Arnoux once again, declares his love for her, and they kiss—only to be interrupted by Rosanette. His happy domestic life with Rosanette takes an unexpected turn when he finds out she is pregnant, and his fantasies about a baby with Madame Arnoux prompt him to agree to keep the child. Madame Dambreuse, his newest conquest, brings him further into bourgeois society; but Frédéric fakes his feelings for her by telling her things he’d dreamed of telling Madame Arnoux. He vows to marry Madame Dambreuse, but he is pulled back to Rosanette when their baby dies, and then back to Madame Arnoux when he learns she may be leaving Paris. Although Frédéric takes pleasure in juggling his affairs, the demands each woman makes on him are growing more intense, and the stakes are getting greater.

Frédéric pursues each of his three lovers for a different reason, and the unique needs each woman meets contribute to his inability to choose among them. Rosanette provides a comfortable home life that Frédéric settles into happily, her beauty and sparkling personality a welcome relief from the intense political talk of the people who surround him. Madame Arnoux, though long absent, fuels his romantic imagination—nearly every desire he has for another woman is rooted in his desire for her. She is older than Frédéric and serves as a stable, consistent figure, even as their relationship becomes more fraught. Madame Dambreuse provides the most explicit service: she is his ticket into high society, and the stakes are greatest in his affair with her. Rosanette grows to be a nuisance and Madame Arnoux continues to be troubling, but Frédéric will lose little from casting them aside. However, the life he desires is contingent on Madame Dambreuse’s continued affection. As has proven to be his pattern, Frédéric loses interest in Madame Dambreuse as soon as he conquers her, but in this case he must persevere. When he rushes to pursue Madame Arnoux, he is literally risking his future.

Dussardier, a loyal friend to Frédéric and once an energetic supporter of the revolution, has become disheartened and depressed at the turn France has taken, and his disillusionment in many ways mirrors Frédéric’s. The working class is worse off than ever before, and the bourgeoisie is determined to restore a single power to government. The Republic is floundering, and Dussardier has lost his faith in the workers. It has all been a great disappointment. Frédéric has faced his own disappointments: Rosanette is flirting with financial ruin, and Madame Dambreuse received nothing after her husband’s death. His kiss with Madame Arnoux resulted in nothing. Soon after he speaks with Dussardier, his child will die and he will learn that Madame Arnoux is nearly out of his life forever. French society has been disappointed and disillusioned, and these social unrests are mirrored on a personal level in Frédéric’s own life.

Just as Deslauriers once tried to win over Madame Arnoux in an attempt to take over Frédéric’s life, he now tries to win over Louise. His efforts to become like Frédéric are explicit, and he imitates Frédéric’s manner and speech. This rather creepy appropriation of someone else’s life wins him Louise’s confidence. Although Frédéric no longer seems intent on marrying Louise, Deslauriers’s attempts to woo her are still a betrayal, and we wonder what Deslauriers is up to as he ingratiates himself to the wealthy Roque.