Boule de Suif

by

Guy de Maupassant

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Mr. Loiseau is a crass, lower-middle class wine merchant from Rouen who is traveling in the carriage to Havre. He sells “bad wine at a good price,” and he has two principal interests: making a sale wherever he can, and cracking crude jokes whenever possible. His face is ruddy, and he has big hands and a big belly. Mr. Loiseau and his wife, Mrs. Loiseau, are traveling to Havre for financial reasons: to collect on a huge purchase made by the French Supply Ministry during the war. Mr. Loiseau is the least wealthy out of the group’s three married men (Mr. Carré-Lamadon and the Count clearly have more “dignified” upbringings), and this places him in a unique position. He aligns with the other two against the democrat Cornudet, as democracy can be bad for business, but he is the only traveler to repeatedly cross unspoken social boundaries between the “society side” of the carriage and the remaining passengers. He is the only one to accept rum from Cornudet, for example, and he is the first person to eat some of the provisions that Miss Rousset offers to share. Despite his total lack of refinement and obvious opportunism, Mr. Loiseau comes across as the least hypocritical in the story because he never tries to act classier than he is.

Mr. Loiseau Quotes in Boule de Suif

The Boule de Suif quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Loiseau or refer to Mr. Loiseau . 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:

[…] Loiseau with his eyes devoured the dish of chicken. He said: “Fortunately Madame had more precaution than we. There are some people who know how to think ahead always.”

She turned toward him, saying: “If you would like some of it, sir? It is hard to go without breakfast so long.”

He saluted her and replied: “Faith, I frankly cannot refuse; I can stand it no longer. Everything goes in time of war, does it not, Madame?”

Related Characters: Mr. Loiseau (speaker), Miss Elizabeth Rousset (Ball-of-Fat) (speaker)
Related Symbols: Basket of Food
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

They found themselves in a square […] where they perceived some Prussian soldiers. The first one they saw was paring potatoes. The second, further off, was cleaning the hairdresser’s shop. Another, bearded to the eyes, was tending a troublesome brat, cradling it and trying to appease it […]. One of them was even washing the linen of his hostess, an impotent old grandmother […]. Loiseau had a joke for the occasion: “They will repopulate the land!”

Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

The three men mounted the staircase and were introduced to the best room of the inn, where the officer received them, stretched out in an armchair, his feet on the mantelpiece, smoking a long, porcelain pipe, and enveloped in a flamboyant dressing-gown, appropriated, without doubt, from some dwelling belonging to a common citizen of bad taste. He did not rise, nor greet them in any way, not even looking at them.

Page Number: 19
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!

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Mr. Loiseau Character Timeline in Boule de Suif

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Loiseau appears in Boule de Suif. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Boule de Suif
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...recognize each other and comment that they are also bringing their wives. These men are Mr. Loiseau , Mr. Carré-Lamadon, and Count Hubert de Breville. All three determine that they will not... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
...it. She throws them a fierce look, though, and everybody averts their eyes (except for Mr. Loiseau , who cannot look away). The married “honest” women draw together, forming a group based... (full context)
Class Division in Wartime Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
...Mr. Carré-Lamadon talks about large amount of money he has stashed away as a reserve. Mr. Loiseau , it turns out, sold the French government all of the leftover wine he’d had... (full context)
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
...that it now looks as though they’ll be lucky to make it there by nightfall. Mr. Loiseau , Mr. Carré-Lamadon, and Count Hubert expect to find some small eating-house or bar, but... (full context)
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...it is one o’clock in the afternoon, and everybody in the carriage is extremely hungry. Mr. Loiseau says loudly that there is a “hollow in [his] stomach.” Nobody is in the mood... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
...has rum. He offers it to the group, but everybody coldly refuses him, except for Mr. Loiseau who takes two gulps. The merchant is now in a good mood, as the alcohol... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
Mr. Loiseau cannot stop looking at Miss Rousset’s chicken, and he finally speaks to her, praising her... (full context)
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...others watch. The remaining passengers open and close their mouths, sick with hunger and fury. Mr. Loiseau , after a time, convinces Mrs. Loiseau to also accept Miss Rousset’s offer. (full context)
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
...she absolutely would have given her food to the “ladies and gentlemen” if she’d “dared.” Mr. Loiseau implores the rest of the group to abandon normal customs and accept the young woman’s... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
...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 the officer, who looks right through him. Although they... (full context)
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
Meanwhile, in a corner , Mr. Loiseau sells the innkeeper six cases of wine. Later that night, for fun, he spies on... (full context)
Class Division in Wartime Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
...the carriage is not prepared. They are certain they told the driver eight o’clock; mystified , Mr. Loiseau , Mr. Carré-Lamadon, and the Count walk into town to try to sort it out.... (full context)
Class Division in Wartime Theme Icon
When the Prussian officer finally receives the Count, Mr. Carré-Lamadon, and Mr. Loiseau , the officer has his feet up on his desk, he is draped in a... (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
...their heads together and try to figure out how to get out of this situation. Mr. Loiseau comes up with the idea of leaving Miss Rousset if the Prussian will let the... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
Everyone is ecstatic. Mr. Loiseau cries out that he will “pay for the champagne.” The group becomes “communicative and buoyant.”... (full context)
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
Later that night, Mrs. Loiseau says to Mr. Loiseau : “some women will take to a uniform, whether it be French or Prussian. It... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
As the nuns lower their heads and pray, the carriage moves on. Mr. Loiseau declares that he is hungry and his wife takes out a large basket of food... (full context)