Boule de Suif

by

Guy de Maupassant

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Countess Hubert de Bréville Character Analysis

Countess Hubert de Breveille, one of the travelers in the carriage to Havre, is the daughter of a small Nantes ship owner, although she married into nobility through her husband, the Count. In her position as Countess, she is regal and sophisticated, nonchalant about status in a way that Mrs. Loiseau and Mrs. Carre-Lamadon cannot afford to be. The Countess, like her husband, has a lot of sway with the other characters and, like her husband, she uses familiarity and friendliness to get what she wants. The Countess makes Miss Rousset feel welcomed into the group after Miss Rousset shares her food in the carriage, and while Miss Rousset thinks that she enjoys an affinity with the Countess, the Countess is only too willing to sacrifice her to the German officer so that the group can be on their way. The Countess’s two-faced behavior, in light of her appearance of geniality, makes her a crueler character than either Mrs. Loiseau or Mrs. Carre-Lamadon.

Countess Hubert de Bréville Quotes in Boule de Suif

The Boule de Suif quotes below are all either spoken by Countess Hubert de Bréville or refer to Countess Hubert de Bréville. 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:
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Thrift Editions edition of Boule de Suif published in 1992.
Boule de Suif Quotes

The three men installed their wives at the back [of the carriage] and then followed them. Then the other forms, undecided and veiled, took in their turn the last places without exchanging a word.

Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

These six persons formed the foundation of the carriage company, the society side, serene and strong, honest, established people, who had both religion and principle.

Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

As soon as she was recognized, a whisper went around among the honest women, and the words “prostitute” and “public shame” were whispered so loud that she raised her head. Then she threw her neighbors such a provoking, courageous look that a great silence reigned […then] conversation began among the three ladies, whom the presence of this girl had suddenly rendered friendly, almost intimate. It seemed to them they should bring their married dignity into union in opposition to that sold without shame; for legal love always takes on a tone of contempt for its free confrère.

Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

They could not eat this girl’s provisions without speaking to her. And so they chatted, with reserve at first; then, as she carried herself well, with more abandon. The ladies De Breville and Carré-Lamadon, who were acquainted with the ins and outs of good-breeding, were gracious with a certain delicacy. The Countess, especially, showed that amiable condescension of very noble ladies who do not fear being spoiled by contact with anyone, and was charming. But the great Madame Loiseau, who had the soul of a plebian, remained crabbed, saying little and eating much.

Related Symbols: Basket of Food
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

The breakfast was very doleful; and it became apparent that a coldness had arisen toward Ball-of-Fat, and that the night, which brings counsel, had slightly modified their judgements. They almost wished now that the Prussian has secretly found this girl, in order to give her companions a pleasant surprise in the morning. What could be more simple? Besides, who would know anything about it? She could save appearances by telling the officer that she took pity on their distress. To her, it would make little difference!

“Well, we are not going to stay here and die of old age. Since it is the trade of this creature to accommodate herself to all kinds, I fail to see how she has the right to refuse one more than another…and to think that to-day we should be drawn into this embarrassment by this affected woman, this minx! For my part, I find that this officer conducts himself very well…and we must remember too that he is master. He has only to say ‘I wish,’ and he could take us by force with his soldiers.”

Page Number: 23-24
Explanation and Analysis:

The Countess put to use the authority of her unwitting accomplice, and added to it the edifying paraphrase and axiom of Jesuit morals: “The needs justify the means.”

Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:
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Countess Hubert de Bréville Character Timeline in Boule de Suif

The timeline below shows where the character Countess Hubert de Bréville appears in Boule de Suif. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Boule de Suif
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...others who are still covered and indistinct. The three married women—Mrs. Loiseau, Mrs. Carré-Lamadon, and Countess Hubert de Breville—sit towards the back and bring out foot stoves. The carriage finally leaves,... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
Mrs. Loiseau, Mrs. Carré-Lamadon, and the Countess start to whisper things like “public shame,” loud enough so that Miss Rousset can hear... (full context)
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
At this point, Mr. Carré-Lamadon and Mrs. Carré-Lamadon and the Count and Countess are in total agony—they can’t believe that food is so close but that they are... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
The whole group descends on the basket and quickly empties it. Mrs. Carré-Lamadon and the Countess now allow themselves to talk to Miss Rousset (feeling an obligation because they’ve eaten her... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Class Division in Wartime Theme Icon
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...“exasperated” young woman. Although there is awkwardness in the carriage afterwards, Mrs. Carré-Lamadon and the Countess are even more impressed by Miss Rousset’s outburst. (full context)
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...falls, and the group stops talking as they digest. They feel the cold again. The Countess gives her foot stove to Miss Rousset, and Mrs. Loiseau and Mrs. Carré-Lamadon give theirs... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
The two nuns obey the order first, followed by the Count and Countess, then Mr. Carré-Lamadon and Mrs. Carré-Lamadon then Mr. Loiseau and Mr. Loiseau. Mr. Loiseau greets... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Class Division in Wartime Theme Icon
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
...but not before telling the group “[i]t is for you that I do this.” The Countess grasps Miss Rousset’s hands in thanks. (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
During lunch, this plan takes form. Mrs. Loiseau, Mrs. Carré-Lamadon, and the Countess are kind to Miss Rousset only to “increase her docility and her confidence in their... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
Spirits plummet. No one in the group knows what to do. The Countess, who has no more useful dialogue about duty, absently asks the nuns to tell a... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
...group waits only on Miss Rousset. When she arrives, she looks flustered. She approaches the Countess—and the Count leads his wife away from Miss Rousset immediately. Miss Rousset tries to greet... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
The carriage moves towards Le Havre with an atmosphere of cold awkwardness. The Countess turns to Mrs. Carré-Lamadon and, breaking the silence, asks about a society friend of theirs.... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
...his wife takes out a large basket of food which they share. The Count and Countess follow suit. Soon nine travelers are all eating the food that they have brought—everybody except... (full context)