Bonjour Tristesse

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Cecile is a precocious 17 year old girl who is holidaying in the south of France with her father. If one defines a father as a figure in one’s life who cares, nurtures, teaches, protects and shelters his offspring then one could make the argument that, in fact, Cecile never really had a ‘father’ to begin with. In place of a traditional ‘father-daughter’ bond lies a relationship based on mimicry, freedom, carlessness, and inappropriately, sexuality. Cecile lacks a mother and evidentally is completely satisfied with that being the case, speaking of her as Raymond’s wife and not as her mother.

‘’My father was forty, and had been a widower for fifteen years’’

Cecile’s precociousness has allowed her to become somewhat more self-aware than many girls her age. This can be seen in her ability to comprehend and analyse her father’s relationships with the various different women that she has undoubtedly encountered over the years. Cecile seems to be playing Raymond’s friend rather than daughter in a lot of situations. Even the fact that Cecile refers to her father by his first name gives a sense of, at least, a relaxed relationship. Cecile accompaies Raymond to gatherings in party dresses and drinks champagne. It is here when we can truly see what Raymond’s ‘womanizer attitude’ has done to Cecile. Cecile can be seen to be simply playing with young men as she feels that she is far more mature than they are, and to a point she may be correct.

‘’Usually I avoided college students, whom I considered brutal, wrapped up in themselves particularly in their youth...’’

The story Cecile tells throughtout the book is of their stay in their southern French villa to which Raymond brings a much, much younger woman, Elsa. However, conflict begins when Anne arrives at the villa later on. Anne is a 42 year divorcee and at first Raymond did not seem interested but as time moved on it became clear that...
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