For years, Franz has seen Marie-Claude as weak, and when he returns home from Rome, he expects to find her a mess. Instead, Marie-Claude is fine and, surprised to see him, asks him what he is doing home. She has no problem with Franz moving in with Sabina, but even if he doesn’t, she wants him out of the house. Franz isn’t particularly upset that Marie-Claude is kicking him out, but he is upset that he has obviously misunderstood her all these years.
This again underscores how easy it is to misread language and other information. Franz misunderstands everyone in his life. He has always assumed that Marie-Claude needed him, but she very clearly doesn’t. Franz isn’t particularly upset because he doesn’t love Marie-Claude, which again is why he is so desperately searching for meaning elsewhere in his life.
Franz leaves and goes to a hotel, and the next day he goes to Sabina’s flat. He rings the bell, but she doesn’t answer. He stops by the concierge’s desk, who directs him to the owner of the flat, and the owner tells Franz that Sabina has moved and left no forwarding address. Franz soon finds a small flat and falls in love with his new girlfriend, one of his students. He is as happy as he can be without Sabina, but Marie-Claude refuses to consent to a divorce. Marie-Claude thinks that “love is a battle,” and she intends to fight. Franz disagrees and refuses to fight.
Marie-Claude’s refusal to divorce Franz is another way for her to hold power over him, and this is reflected in her comment that “love is a battle” that she needs to fight. Again, Franz sees love as the absence of strength, so he doesn’t fight back. Sabina has betrayed Franz, in her own definition of the word, and has set out on a new adventure. Sabina’s actions, too, reflect her power over Franz. He is devastated and goes to great lengths to try to find her.