On their way from the beach, Madame Ratignolle asks Robert to keep away from Mrs. Pontellier, who, she says, might take his attentions too seriously. Robert brushes her off. They watch the lovers and the lady in black walk by. He says a courteous goodbye, after giving the “sickly” woman some soup, and goes to his own cottage. He reads as his mother sews. She asks him to pass along a French book to Mrs. Pontellier.
What Edna has told Madame Ratignolle has disturbed her. Edna's transformation is beginning to show, and the more conventional people around her—the minor guardians of the social order—have begun to act defensive. Robert, though, watches the transformation with pleasure. The lovers and the lady and black, like bookends, define the proper arena for love—young youthful love leading to marriage, or, for those women who don’t marry, a lonely life as a spinster outside of regular society.
Robert calls down to the street to his impetuous younger brother Victor, who rides away without responding. Madame Lebrun tells Robert that a friend of hers invited Robert to stay with him in Vera Cruz—news Robert receives enthusiastically.
We learn that Robert is somewhat more cool-headed and polite than his younger brother. He is curious and adventurous, but he is the more conventional of the two.