Boule de Suif

by

Guy de Maupassant

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Basket of Food Symbol Analysis

Basket of Food  Symbol Icon

In “Boule de Suif,” baskets of food represent a society’s finite resources and the subjective and often unfair way in which they are distributed. When the ten travelers make their way from Rouen to Tôtes, they are separated from ordinary civilization. This means that all the wealthy travelers do not have accesses to the resources they can usually count on, temporarily redistributing power only to those who have resources to share. On the first half of the journey, this is Miss Rousset. Although she had brought the basket of food for herself, Miss Rousset chooses to evenly distribute her food and drink among the travelers—despite their scornful attitude towards her—modeling an egalitarian ethic. On the second half of the journey, however, everyone has a basket of provisions besides Miss Rousset, none of them choose to share, leaving Miss Rousset hungry, humiliated, and upset. The food in the carriage symbolizes how money and other resources flow through a society; people without resources often live at the whims and pleasures of those who have the option to distribute what they have.

Basket of Food Quotes in Boule de Suif

The Boule de Suif quotes below all refer to the symbol of Basket of Food . 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

[…] 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:

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:
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Basket of Food Symbol Timeline in Boule de Suif

The timeline below shows where the symbol Basket of Food 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
...so hungry. Unable to resist any longer, Miss Rousset bends down and pulls out a basket from under her seat. Beneath a clean white napkin, there is a feast—chickens, pates, fruits,... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
...and he finally speaks to her, praising her foresight. Miss Rousset immediately offers him some food. He says that he could not possibly refuse. “Everything goes in time of war, does... (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... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Gender, Power, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
The whole group descends on the basket and quickly empties it. Mrs. Carré-Lamadon and the Countess now allow themselves to talk to... (full context)
Wealth and Hypocrisy  Theme Icon
Exploitation and Class Hierarchy  Theme Icon
...on. Mr. Loiseau declares that he is hungry and his wife takes out a large basket of food which they share. The Count and Countess follow suit. Soon nine travelers are... (full context)