The Last Lesson


Alphonse Daudet

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The Bulletin-Board Symbol Analysis

The Bulletin-Board Symbol Icon

The bulletin-board that hangs outside the town hall represents the oppression of the Prussian occupiers who have invaded the region of Alsace-Lorraine, where the village that is home to the narrator, Franz, is located. Franz tells the reader that over the two years of Prussian occupation, all of the village’s bad news had come from the board. The foreign occupiers communicate their repressive edicts and commands there. Indeed, on the day the story is set, a crowd is gathered around the board reading a new notice. Only after arriving in school to M. Hamel’s shocking announcement that this will be the last lesson in French does Franz realize that this must have been the new regulation posted on the board by the Prussian authorities. As such, the board symbolizes the despotism of the Prussian occupiers, who, day by day, curtail the freedoms of the French villagers. The bulletin-board is contrasted with the blackboard at the end of the story, an instrument of education that M. Hamel and his pupils have access to, and which the teacher uses to inscribe and affirm his and the villagers’ deep sense of patriotism and resistance.

The Bulletin-Board Quotes in The Last Lesson

The The Last Lesson quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Bulletin-Board. 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

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:
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The Bulletin-Board Symbol Timeline in The Last Lesson

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Bulletin-Board appears in The Last Lesson. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Last Lesson
Culture and Language Theme Icon
Patriotism and Resistance Theme Icon
Community and Solidarity Theme Icon
As he passes the town hall, the narrator sees a crowd gathered around the bulletin-board. Over the previous two years, all of the town’s bad news—about battles lost, the draft,... (full context)
Culture and Language Theme Icon
Patriotism and Resistance Theme Icon
Education and Knowledge Theme Icon
Community and Solidarity Theme Icon
...a shock to little Franz, who realizes that the villagers he had seen by the bulletin-board outside the town hall had gathered to read the order that had just been posted... (full context)