A Simple Heart

by

Gustave Flaubert

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Madame Aubain’s eldest child and only son. Félicité treats Paul with great care and affection during his childhood, but as he ages the two grow apart. As a young adult, Paul does not pursue a career as expected, but instead begins to develop a drinking problem and incur significant debts. However, his habits do not negatively impact his life for long. After marrying a wealthy young woman with a well-connected father, Paul is able to secure a position in the Registry Office with apparently little effort. Paul and his new wife appear self-interested and opportunistic, particularly when they immediate strip Madame Aubain’s house of its furniture and décor after her death. Their actions upset Félicité considerably, as she has come to cherish many of the familiar comforts of her employer’s home.

Paul Aubain Quotes in A Simple Heart

The A Simple Heart quotes below are all either spoken by Paul Aubain or refer to Paul Aubain. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Faith and Virtue  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of A Simple Heart published in 2005.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Thinking that it would help the children to derive some enjoyment from their studies, he bought them an illustrated geography book. It depicted scenes from different parts of the world […] Paul carefully explained all these pictures to Félicité. In fact, this was the only time anyone ever taught her how to read a book.

Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

For lunch she served a sirloin of beef, along with tripe, black pudding, a fricassee of chicken, sparkling cider, a fruit tart and plums in brandy, all accompanied by a stream of compliments…not forgetting their dear departed grandparents whom the Liébards had known personally, having been in service to the family for several generations. The farm, like the Liébard’s themselves, had an old-world feel to it. The beams in the ceiling were pitted with woodworm, the walls blackened with smoke, the window panes grey with dust.

Page Number: 11-12
Explanation and Analysis:

Félicité became very attached to them. She bought them a blanket, some shirts and a cooking stove. They were obviously out to take advantage of her. Madame Aubain was annoyed that Félicité was not more firm with them. She also took objection to the familiar way in which the nephew spoke to Paul.”

Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

Ten days later, just as soon as they could get there from Besançon, the heirs arrived on the scene. Madame Aubain’s daughter-in-law went through all the drawers, chose a few pieces of furniture for herself and sold what was left. […] On the walls, yellow patches marked the places where pictures had once hung. They had taken away the children’s beds, along with their mattresses, and the cupboard had been cleared of all Virginie’s things. Félicité went from room to room, heartbroken.

Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:
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Paul Aubain Character Timeline in A Simple Heart

The timeline below shows where the character Paul Aubain appears in A Simple Heart. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Faith and Virtue  Theme Icon
Classism and Class Disparity Theme Icon
Cruelty vs Compassion  Theme Icon
...and she also “[takes] objection to the familiar way in which the nephew [speaks] to Paul.” The weather worsens, and Madame Aubain decides that the family should return to Pont-l’Eveque.1110 (full context)
Chapter 3
Faith and Virtue  Theme Icon
Classism and Class Disparity Theme Icon
Love, Loss, and Death Theme Icon
Paul leaves home to attend school in Caen, France. He’s happy to go, but Félicité thinks... (full context)
Classism and Class Disparity Theme Icon
...childhood tutor, Guyot, is unable to teach her. With Virginie out of the house, and Paul still away at school, Félicité begins feeling lonely, and receives permission from Madame Aubain to... (full context)
Faith and Virtue  Theme Icon
Classism and Class Disparity Theme Icon
Cruelty vs Compassion  Theme Icon
...leaving for trips out to sea, bringing back presents for Félicité each time. Meanwhile, both Paul and Virginie come home for their school holidays, but Félicité finds that they’ve both matured... (full context)
Faith and Virtue  Theme Icon
Classism and Class Disparity Theme Icon
...government position, moves to Pont L’Eveque with his family, accompanied by an exotic pet parrot. Paul Aubain fails to begin a career, and spends most of his time drinking and gambling... (full context)
Chapter 4
Faith and Virtue  Theme Icon
Classism and Class Disparity Theme Icon
Cruelty vs Compassion  Theme Icon
Love, Loss, and Death Theme Icon
Paul Aubain secures a job at the French Registry Office and marries the daughter of a... (full context)
Classism and Class Disparity Theme Icon
Cruelty vs Compassion  Theme Icon
Love, Loss, and Death Theme Icon
After Madame Aubain’s death, Paul Aubain and his new wife strip the house of its décor and furniture, upsetting Félicité... (full context)
Faith and Virtue  Theme Icon
When Paul and his wife leave, Félicité lives alone in the Aubain household, even as it falls... (full context)