_____Instead of pining away in his hotel room, the narrator explores the hotel, which takes up only a portion of a former palace, with "passages winding back on themselves" and "lobbies as long as corridors." There's an Alice in Wonderland quality to the narrator's explorations, in which the rooms themselves take on human traits and personalities: "behind a hanging curtain I discovered nothing more than a small closet whose escape had been blocked by the outer wall, hiding there rather sheepishly, staring at me in fright from its little round window, turned blue by the moonlight."
There follows an extended reverie on the nature of sleep and dreams, as an escape from habit:
The same is true of sleep as of our perception of the external world. It needs only some modification in our habits to make it poetic; we need only to have dozed off involuntarily on top of the bed while undressing for the dimensions of sleep to be altered and its beauty felt.He makes clear the point of these passages -- "to describe human life" -- by noting that it's impossible to do so "without bathing it in the sleep into which it plunges, and which, night after night, encircles it like the sea around a promontory.... In the end, the world in which we live when we are asleep is so different that the foremost concern of people who have difficult in going to sleep is to escape from the waking world."
And so he analyzes the different kinds of sleep and dreams, including the deepest, "leaden sleep" -- the kind of sleep, when we wake from it, "Identity has vanished," and we have trouble placing not only where we are, but even who we are:
So how, then, searching for our thoughts, our identities, as we search for lost objects, do we eventually recover our own self rather than any other? Why, when we regain consciousness, is it not an identity other than the one we had previously that is embodied in us? ... The resurrection that takes place when we wake up -- after the beneficent attack of mental derangement we call sleep -- must in the end be similar to what happens when we recall a name, a line of poetry, or a refrain we had forgotten. And perhaps the resurrection of the soul after death is to be thought of as a phenomenon of memory.He is now afflicted by an anxiety attack, uncontrollable worries about his grandmother and various unnamed "business" in Paris, which spur him to send for the ever-patient Saint-Loup.
He would listen to my explanation and respond pertinently; but before he had uttered a world he had transformed me into his own likeness; compared with the important duties that had kept him so busy, so alert, so happy, the worries that a moment ago I had been unable to endure a second longer seemed to me as negligible as they did to him.Who needs Paxil when you've got Saint-Loup?
He begins to venture out to see Saint-Loup's regiment performing its maneuvers and to revert "to the healthy exhaustion of my childhood in Combray."