Boule de Suif

by

Guy de Maupassant

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Mrs. Loiseau, one of the travelers in the carriage to Havre, is the sturdy brains behind her husband Mr. Loiseau’s sociable lifestyle. She runs the numbers for their wine business and is far more serious than her gregarious, vulgar husband. She does not even like to listen to jokes about money being wasted. Mrs. Loiseau bonds with the other married women in the carriage over their total distaste for the prostitute, Miss Rousset. But, just like her husband, Mrs. Loiseau is lower than Mrs. Carré-Lamadon and the Countess in status, which creates some distance between them. Mrs. Loiseau mirrors her husband’s brazenness when she voices sentiments that others are thinking but refuse to say. For example, she is the first to suggest that Miss Rousset should not refuse to sleep with the German officer, since that is Miss Rousset’s profession. Unlike her husband, Mrs. Loiseau’s bluntness isn’t redemptive; near the end of the story, she makes a cruel and clearly backwards remark about “some women” (Miss Rousset) preferring a man in uniform no matter what side they are on.

Mrs. Loiseau Quotes in Boule de Suif

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

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:
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Mrs. Loiseau Character Timeline in Boule de Suif

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Loiseau 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
...followed by the four 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... (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... (full context)
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...joke about giving “a thousand francs” for a piece of ham—a joke that his wife Mrs. Loiseau does not appreciate, as she is not interested in wasting money, even in jest. The... (full context)
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...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)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
...well, in the opinion of the fancier women, and soon they talk “with more abandon.” Mrs. Loiseau , though, is a bit surly; she remains quiet and eats. (full context)
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...They feel the cold again. The Countess gives her foot stove to Miss Rousset, and Mrs. Loiseau and Mrs. Carré-Lamadon give theirs to the two nuns. (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
...he keeps everyone he’s more likely to get what he wants, they abandon this idea. Mrs. Loiseau —who has had enough—asks why Miss Rousset “has the right to refuse one [man] more... (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... (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... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
Mrs. Loiseau mutters that Miss Rousset “weeps for shame.” Then Cornudet begins to hum the French national... (full context)