The Last Lesson

by

Alphonse Daudet

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Prussian Soldiers Character Analysis

Forces of the occupying Prussian power, which has invaded the French region of Alsace-Lorraine and claimed it for Prussia (then consisting of Germany, Poland, and parts of Austria). Franz passes the soldiers doing their drills as he hurries to school on the morning of the last lesson. The end of the lesson is also marked by the trumpet call of the soldiers returning from their exercises.

Prussian Soldiers Quotes in The Last Lesson

The The Last Lesson quotes below are all either spoken by Prussian Soldiers or refer to Prussian Soldiers . 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:
Culture and Language Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the National Council of Education Research and Training edition of The Last Lesson published in 2015.
The Last Lesson Quotes

For a moment I thought of running away and spending the day out of doors. It was so warm, so bright! The birds were chirping at the edge of the woods; and in the open field back of the sawmill the Prussian soldiers were drilling. It was all much more tempting than the rule for participles, but I had strength to resist, and hurried off to school.

Related Characters: Franz (The Narrator) (speaker), M. Hamel, Prussian Soldiers
Related Symbols: The Classroom
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

When I passed the town hall there was a crowd in front of the bulletin-board. For the last two years all our bad news had come from there—the lost battles, the draft, the orders of the commanding officer—and I thought to myself, without stopping, “What can be the matter now?”

Related Characters: Franz (The Narrator) (speaker), Prussian Soldiers
Related Symbols: The Bulletin-Board
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

[…] M. Hamel mounted his chair, and in the same grave and gentle tone which he had used to me, said, “My children, this is the last lesson I shall give you. The order has come from Berlin to teach only German in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. The new master comes tomorrow. This is your last French lesson. I want you to be very attentive.”

Related Characters: Franz (The Narrator) (speaker), M. Hamel (speaker), Prussian Soldiers
Related Symbols: The Classroom, French
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

My last French lesson! Why, I hardly knew how to write! I should never learn any more! I must stop there, then! Oh, how sorry I was for not learning my lessons, for seeking birds’ eggs, or going sliding on the Saar! My books, that had seemed such a nuisance a while ago, so heavy to carry, my grammar, and my history of the saints, were old friends now that I couldn’t give up. And M. Hamel, too; the idea that he was going away, that I should never see him again, made me forget all about his ruler and how cranky he was.

Related Characters: Franz (The Narrator) (speaker), M. Hamel, Prussian Soldiers
Related Symbols: French
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

“I won’t scold you, little Franz; you must feel bad enough. See how it is! Every day we have said to ourselves, ‘Bah! I’ve plenty of time. I’ll learn it tomorrow.’ And now you see where we’ve come out. Ah, that’s the great trouble with Alsace; she puts off learning till tomorrow. Now those fellows out there will have the right to say to you, ‘How is it; you pretend to be Frenchmen, and yet you can neither speak nor write your own language?’”

Related Characters: M. Hamel (speaker), Franz (The Narrator), Prussian Soldiers
Related Symbols: The Classroom, French
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

[…] M. Hamel went on to talk of the French language, saying that it was the most beautiful language in the world—the clearest, the most logical; that we must guard it among us and never forget it, because when a people are enslaved, as long as they hold fast to their language it is as if they had the key to their prison.

Related Characters: Franz (The Narrator) (speaker), M. Hamel, Prussian Soldiers
Related Symbols: French
Page Number: 5-7
Explanation and Analysis:

After the grammar, we had a lesson in writing. That day M. Hamel had new copies for us, written in a beautiful round hand—France, Alsace, France, Alsace. They looked like little flags floating everywhere in the school-room, hung from the rod at the top of our desks.

Related Characters: Franz (The Narrator) (speaker), M. Hamel, Prussian Soldiers
Related Symbols: The Classroom, French
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

All at once the church-clock struck twelve. Then the Angelus. At the same moment the trumpets of the Prussians, returning from drill, sounded under our windows. M. Hamel stood up, very pale, in his chair. I never saw him look so tall.

“My friends,” said he, “I—I—” But something choked him. He could not go on.

Then he turned to the blackboard, took a piece of chalk, and, bearing on with all his might, he wrote as large as he could—

Vive La France!

Related Characters: Franz (The Narrator) (speaker), M. Hamel, Prussian Soldiers
Related Symbols: The Classroom, The Blackboard
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
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Prussian Soldiers Character Timeline in The Last Lesson

The timeline below shows where the character Prussian Soldiers appears in The Last Lesson. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Last Lesson
Education and Knowledge Theme Icon
...day outside. The weather is warm and bright and birds are chirping. He sees Prussian soldiers doing their drills in an open field. The beautiful day tempts him, but the narrator... (full context)
Culture and Language Theme Icon
Patriotism and Resistance Theme Icon
Education and Knowledge Theme Icon
Community and Solidarity Theme Icon
The clock strikes twelve. Prussian trumpets sound, marking the end of the soldiers’ drill. M. Hamel stands up, pale but tall. He begins speaking, addressing the class as... (full context)