Boule de Suif

by

Guy de Maupassant

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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.
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Boule de Suif Quotes

They were not troops, but a disbanded horde. The beards of the men were long and filthy, their uniforms in tatters, and they advanced at an easy pace without flag or regiment. All seem worn-out and back-broken […] in short they were a mobilized, pacific people, bending under the weight of the gun…

Their leaders were former cloth or grain merchants, ex-merchants in tallow or sap, warriors of circumstance, elected officers on account of…the length of their mustaches…

Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

It was occupation after invasion. Then the duty commences for the conquered to show themselves gracious toward the conquerors. After some time […] the Prussian officer eats at the table. He is sometimes well bred and, through politeness, pities France, and speaks of his repugnance in taking part in the affair.

Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

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:

[…] 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 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:

“I believed at first that I could remain,” she said. “I had my house full of provisions, and I preferred to feed a few soldiers rather than expatriate myself, to go I knew not where. But as soon as I saw them, those Prussians, that was too much for me! They made my blood boil with anger, and I wept for very shame all day long.”

Related Characters: Miss Elizabeth Rousset (Ball-of-Fat) (speaker)
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

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:

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!

“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:

No one looked at her or even thought of her. She felt herself drowned in the scorn of these honest scoundrels, who had first sacrificed her and then rejected her, like some improper or useless article. She thought of her great basket full of good things which they had greedily devoured…she felt ready to weep.

Related Symbols: Basket of Food
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:
No matches.