Boule de Suif

by

Guy de Maupassant

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The Two Nuns Character Analysis

The two nuns in “Boule de Suif” are unassuming and demure women of faith who are riding in the carriage from Rouen to Havre. Both women spend much of their time with their heads bent over, praying Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s into their rosary beads. Still, somehow, they play a huge role in convincing Miss Rousset to sleep with the Prussian officer, as they tell a story from the Bible that the Countess interprets as meaning that Miss Rousset should do as the officer wishes. One might think that two sisters of faith would share food with Miss Rousset in the second half of the journey, but they keep their provisions to themselves. Maupassant, who famously rejected religion when he intentionally got expelled from a seminary, consistently shows the nuns either failing to stand up to injustice or actively (if accidentally) furthering injustice, thereby critiquing religious faith.

The Two Nuns Quotes in Boule de Suif

The Boule de Suif quotes below are all either spoken by The Two Nuns or refer to The Two Nuns. 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 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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The Two Nuns Character Timeline in Boule de Suif

The timeline below shows where the character The Two Nuns 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
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
...day they all eye each other curiously. Sitting next to the other women are two nuns who hold rosary beads and mutter a series of prayers. One has smallpox all over... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
...is a little horrified, as they think it is a reference to Miss Rousset. The nuns stop mumbling into their roseries but keep their eyes cast downwards.  (full context)
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Miss Rousset then offers her food to the two nuns, who also eagerly accept. Cornudet decides to join in and they enjoy a sort of... (full context)
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...and faints. Her husband panics and nobody knows what to do until one of the nuns offers a bit of wine. Mrs. Carré-Lamadon is revived and urged to finish a whole... (full context)
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...stove to Miss Rousset, and Mrs. Loiseau and Mrs. Carré-Lamadon give theirs to the two nuns. (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.... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
...to do. The Countess, who has no more useful dialogue about duty, absently asks the nuns to tell a religious story. Although they’d not been part of any of the earlier... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
...joy. Everyone compliments each other, admires each other, and starts to drink heavily. Even the nuns share in a toast. Cornudet is the only traveler not wildly partying, and he leaves... (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... (full context)