The Return of Martin Guerre


Natalie Zemon Davis

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Sanxi the Younger Character Analysis

Sanxi the younger was Martin and Bertrande’s son, named after Martin’s father Sanxi the elder. Since the couple had married in their early teens, Martin seemed to feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of parenthood and fled the village when Sanxi was still very young. In the ensuing decade, Sanxi lived with his mother and, for a while, with the impostor Arnaud du Tilh, who pretended to be Sanxi’s father. Throughout Arnaud’s trial, Bertrande worked hard to protect herself against the accusation of adultery by claiming that she had been deceived by Arnaud. This was not only to protect her own life—since the punishment for adultery was death—but also to protect Sanxi. If his mother were proven an adulteress, then Sanxi couldn’t inherit the family property. By maintaining her position as an “honorable” woman, Bertrande protected both her own life and reputation, and her son’s future.
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Sanxi the Younger Character Timeline in The Return of Martin Guerre

The timeline below shows where the character Sanxi the Younger appears in The Return of Martin Guerre. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Identity and Property Theme Icon
Narrative and Authority Theme Icon
...eating special cakes, the “spell” was supposedly lifted and Martin and Bertrande conceived a son, Sanxi. (full context)
Chapter 7
The Nature of Evidence Theme Icon
Arnaud didn’t look like his sisters or his son, the younger Sanxi. On the other hand, the witnesses gave contradictory testimony, and the handwriting test couldn’t be... (full context)
Chapter 8
Women, Honor, and Power Theme Icon
The Nature of Evidence Theme Icon
...the defendant resembled them seemed more telling than his lack of resemblance to the younger Sanxi, since he was closer to them in age. On the other hand, Pierre seemed to... (full context)
The Nature of Evidence Theme Icon
...person than to condemn an innocent one.” Acquitting Arnaud would give Bertrande a husband and Sanxi a father. But just as the court was prepared to rule in Arnaud’s favor, a... (full context)