_____Springtime brings fantasies:
I was sure that the next day I should be able to begin work and at the same time start getting up, going out, preparing for our departure to some country house which we should buy, where Albertine would be more free to live the country or seaside life, sailing or hunting, which she would enjoy.But of course, this is only a fantasy: "Reality is the cleverest of our enemies. It directs its attacks at those points in our heart where we were not expecting them, and where we had prepared no defence." And the reality of his relationship with Albertine continues to be his chief antagonist. He recognizes in her two traits: "the comforting one, was her habit of using a single action to give pleasure to more than one person." So she came to Paris to please not only the narrator but also Andrée, while making each think that he or she was the reason for the move. The character trait he finds more difficult to deal with is "the alacrity with which she seized upon any opportunity of pleasure."
Moreover, he is finding himself trapped in the relationship:
I felt life and the world which I had never explored slipping away from me, exchanged for a woman in whom I could no longer find anything new. I could not even go to Venice where, while I was in bed, I would be tortured by the thought of the advances the gondolier might be making to her, or the people in the hotel, or the Venetian women.His life as he sees it is bounded by "on the one hand, when I was not jealous, boredom, and on the other, when I was, suffering." Yet he continues to lavish presents on her, including a Fortuny dress that, "calling up images of Venice, ... made me even more conscious of everything I was giving up for Albertine."
She begins to withdraw from his demonstrations of affection: "instead of returning my kiss, she drew away with the kind of instinctive, sinister stubbornness of animals that feel death upon them." Images of death, as with his watching her sleep, begin to prevail in his thoughts of her. He vacillates "between the fear that Albertine might leave me and a relative calm." He suffers from "anxiety, which, presenting us ... with only two alternatives, [has] something of the appallingly limited character of straightforward physical pain."
For her part, Albertine displays signs of the coming split. One night he hears her "window being violently thrown open" in defiance of his order that windows not be opened at night. He fears that her breaking this rule means that she was ready to break all the agreements they had made between them. And in his nervous state he begins to fear that he is going to die.
They go out together to Versailles, and on the trip he hears "a sound which I did not recognize at first and which my grandmother would also have loved. It was like the buzzing of a wasp. 'Look, said Albertine, there's an aeroplane, it's high, high up.'" The sound stirs in him "a longing for my lost freedom." Even the smell of gasoline from a car driving under his window awakens this longing for freedom. It is
a scent at the appearance of which roads receded in front of me, the look of the ground changed, châteaux appeared from nowhere, the sky turned pale, my strength grew tenfold; this was a scent which seemed to symbolize leaping forward, power, and which renewed the desire I had felt at Balbec to get into the cage of glass and steel, not this time to go and pay visits in familiar houses with a woman I already knew too well, but to go and make love in new places with a woman I did not know at all.And so he begins to make plans, "forgetting that there was another such desire which I had fulfilled without any pleasure at all, the desire for Balbec, and that Venice, being another visible phenomenon, would probably be no more successful than Balbec in realizing an inexpressible dream." His inability to adjust his fantasies to actuality, to forestall disillusionment, continues.
And then, when he summons Françoise to ask her to fetch a guidebook and a train time-table, she enters with the word that Albertine has gone, having called for her boxes and left at nine o'clock. Françoise says she wanted to inform him, but she was afraid to go against the strict orders he had made not to enter his room before called for.