_____The narrator decides to go to the Verdurins' to find out "who the people were that Albertine had been hoping to meet at their house that afternoon." But meanwhile, he rides through the Bois with her, resenting the fact that if he were alone he could "have got to know the young working-girls who were dotted about in the brilliant sunshine ... for the streets, the avenues are filled with Goddesses.... The disappointment I had experienced with women whom I had known, or in cities to which I had travelled, did not prevent me from giving myself up to the attraction of new ones and believing in their reality."
But these very similarities between desire and travel made me promise myself that one day I would grasp more effectively the nature of this force, invisible but as strong as religious belief, or in the world of physics as atmospheric pressure, which so raised in my estimation cities, or women, for as long as I did not know them, but fell away beneath them as son as I approached them, depositing them on the flat earth of vulgar reality.Again and again, we have seen the narrator disillusioned by the gap between what he has imagined of a person or a place and the actuality.
He now reflects of Albertine that "the glittering actress of the beach" has "become the gray prisoner, reduced to her dull self." And yet he can't let go of her, or of his jealousy. When he encounters Gisèle, one of the old "gang of girls," she tells him that "there was something she really must tell" Albertine about some friends of theirs. But when he presses her for the information so he can pass it on to Albertine, Gisèle retreats into vagueness and claims she can't even remember the names of the friends, once again arousing his suspicions. Even when he admires Albertine's paintings, she claims never to have had "a single drawing lesson," so, remembering that she had said she couldn't join him one evening at Balbec because she had a drawing lesson, he presses her on that, forcing her to admit that she had been lying. "But I never lie to you now."
He compares his situation to that of Charlus with Morel, however, and derives comfort from the fact that, unlike Morel, "Albertine was not mad."
To make her chains seem lighter, I thought the best idea was to convince her that I meant to break them. But I could not begin to feed her this lie now, when she had just been so good in coming back from the Trocadéro; what I could do, rather than upsetting her with threats of a separation, was to keep silent about the dreams of a permanent life together which were even then forming in my grateful heart.Once again, which is the possessor and which the possessed, which the prisoner and which the jailer?