Maupassant's Boule de Suif

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Maupassant closed his short story with Boule de Suif crying. How does his story account for this scene and our reaction to it? The language in “La Boule de Suif” is chosen purposefully. Maupassant uses details, images and words in order to create a particular effect on the reader. His writing is implicit throughout the story and shows the real face of a group of French people. The group is detained by a Prussian officer who forbids them to continue on their journey unless La Boule de Suif, a prostitute, sleeps with him. She considers this action to be a betrayal of France but after being pressured by her companions, she accedes to the demand. Nonetheless, La Boule’s sacrifice is not what affects the reader the most; it is her tears at the end that makes the reader most strongly sympathize with her. One reason why we feel sorry for Boule de Suif is the unfair and hypocritical behaviour in which she is treated by her companions. They intentionally make her feel excluded, humiliated and ashamed. Not only do they ignore her, they act as if she was “infectious”. She didn’t expect this because they were the ones who criticized her for being selfish when she refused to sleep with the Prussian officer. Instead of attacking the enemy, they “launched attacks” against La Boule. They forced her to do it by making arguments to persuade her. The Comtesse assured her that the Church would forgive her if she sacrifices herself for “the greater glory of God or for the good of one’s neighbour” and the nuns even called her action a “virtue”. However, after having sex with the Prussian officer, they all rejected her. This shows their hypocrisy and ingratitude. The theme of food and greed is present throughout the story. La Boule is often illustrated by images of food; she is “fat as a pig”, her fingers resemble to “miniature sausages” and her face is like “a red apple”. Even her name “Boule de Suif” means “Dumpling”. In the coach, the French eat their greasy food with the...
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