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The Necklace Revisited

I realize that I posted about du Maupassant’s “The Necklace” recently, but having read the story again in preparation for observing a colleague’s class, I find myself with even more ideas. What options did the Loisels have upon discovering the missing necklace? They chose to cover up the loss, but what else might they have done? Why not this? Take the 18,000 francs they had in the bank and head to Mme. Forestier’s place. Go in and say, “We’re terribly sorry, but we’ve lost the necklace. Here’s a down payment on its value. Can we work out a schedule by which we can finish repaying you for it?” Of course, had they done this, Mme. Forestier would have laughed, told them to keep their money orallowed them to pay the pittance the necklace was worth. Problem averted.

Instead, the Loisel’s opted for deceit. Of course they did the right thing as doing the wrong thing, simply shrugging off the loss–“necklace, what necklace?”–might have landed them in legal problems (or so they thought). But they avoided the “fessing up” option for a simple purpose. They wanted to maintain their good name. The problem is that in hanging on to their good name, they managed to blast away the best ten years of their lives.  Although out of debt at the end of that awful decade, they did not have the inheritance any longer. They did not have the savings they might have maintained over those years. They were prematurely aged and way behind in the race to retirement. This makes me think of Luke 17:33 and then idea of keeping your life only to lose it.

Posted in French Literature, Realism.

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