Boule de Suif

by

Guy de Maupassant

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The German Commander Character Analysis

This unnamed Prussian officer is the story’s antagonist, as he holds the French traveling party hostage at an inn in Tôtes until Miss Rousset agrees to sleep with him. He is young, gawky, and off-putting with a “thin mustache” that denotes his incompetence for his position. The officer treats all of the travelers with contempt and, of course, shows outrageous disrespect towards the vulnerable Miss Rousset. Maupassant uses the terrible and casual behavior of this upper-level officer to contrast with the kind-hearted foot soldiers working hard alongside the French townspeople. The commander used the war to benefit personally and economically, conduct which Maupassant shows as inexcusable.

The German Commander Quotes in Boule de Suif

The Boule de Suif quotes below are all either spoken by The German Commander or refer to The German Commander . 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

A stir was felt around her […]. The Count approached her, saying:

“You are wrong, Madame, for your refusal may lead to considerable difficulty, not only for yourself but for all your companions. It is never worth while to resist those in power”

Everybody agreed with him, asking, begging, beseeching her to go […] they all feared the complications that might result from disobedience.

Page Number: 14
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:

“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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The German Commander Character Timeline in Boule de Suif

The timeline below shows where the character The German Commander appears in Boule de Suif. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Boule de Suif
Class Division in Wartime Theme Icon
...the group, who all look wide-eyed and fearful. Next to the driver they see a Prussian officer—an “excessively tall” young man who is “squeezed into his uniform” and with “an enormous... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
...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 are closest to the door, Miss Rousset... (full context)
Class Division in Wartime Theme Icon
Finally, the group can enter the kitchen of the inn. The German officer asks the driver for the travelers’ papers (which state their names and professions) and determines... (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
...Mr. Follenvie comes down. Slightly out of breath, he lets the group know that the Prussian officer wishes to see Miss Rousset. She bristles and insists that she will not go.... (full context)
Class Division in Wartime Theme Icon
...the men are mystified. The driver explains that he’d been handed strict orders from the Prussian officer. None of these men know why. (full context)
Class Division in Wartime Theme Icon
...Mr. Follenvie knows as much as the driver—only that there were explicit orders from the Prussian officer not to let the group go. The Count requests to see the commander; he... (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... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
...around her, asking her to explain what is going on. Miss Rousset relays that the Prussian officer wants to sleep with her. The group responds with total indignation. Cornudet even breaks... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
...of helplessness. The married men discuss escape plans (none of which are possible). When the Prussian officer passes the group out on their walk, the three married women are mortified that... (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
...this situation. Mr. Loiseau comes up with the idea of leaving Miss Rousset if the Prussian will let the rest of them go. However, since the officer “under[stands] human nature” and... (full context)