“The Necklace” Guy de Maupassant STUDY GUIDE WITH ANSWERS 1. Did Madame Loisel marry her husband because she loved him? No, Madame Loisel did not marry M. Loisel because she loved him. By “letting” herself marry someone, it means her heart wasn’t totally into it. As a result, one can assume she is not happy in her marriage. (especially since she still dreams of another life) “…… and she let herself be married to a little clerk at the Ministry of Public Instruction.” ( page 191, paragraph 1) 2. According to the narrator, what characteristics of womanhood are able to overcome a lack of money, education, or social status? The characteristics that could overpower rank are outside beauty, natural grace and elegance, charm, and witty. “ ….and beauty, grace, and charm act instead of family or birth. Natural fineness, instinct for what is elegant, suppleness of wit, are the sole hierarchy, and make from women of the people the equals of the very greatest ladies.” (page 191, paragraph 2) 3. How does Mme. Loisel react to the invitation she receives from her husband? Why does she react this way? Mme. Loisel becomes angry and throws the invitation on the table with disdain. She is so upset because she feels that she doesn’t have anything proper to wear to a ball with the upper class. “Instead of being delighted, as her husband hoped, she threw the invitation on the table with disdain, murmuring: ‘What do you want me to do with that?” (page 192, paragraph 7) 4. What does Mme. Loisel’s husband suggest she wear in place of jewelry? How does Mme. Loisel react to this suggestion? Why did she react this way? M. Loisel suggested his wife wear natural flowers instead of jewels stating that natural flowers were “very stylish at this time of year.” Mme. Loisel was not satisfied with that answer and tried to make her husband feel guilty about this suggestion. Mme. Loisel reacts this way because she wants to look like she truly is part of the higher class which partly means wearing jewels. “She was not convinced. ‘ No; there’s nothing more humiliating than to look poor among other women who are rich.” (page 194 paragraphs 2-3) 5. List three things M. Loisel does to find the lost necklace. Is he successful? He retraces their steps. He goes to the police and cab offices to see if it was turned in. He puts an ad in the newspaper offering a reward. He is NOT successful in finding the necklace. “I shall go back on foot,” said he, “over the whole route which we have taken, to see if I can’t find it.” ( Page 196, paragraph 10) “ He went to Police Headquarters, to the newspaper offices, to offer a reward; he went to the cab companies-everywhere, in fact, whither he was urged by the least suspicion of hope.” (page 197, paragraph 2) 6. What does M. Loisel do to get the money for the new necklace? What does this infer about his character? M. Loisel first takes money inherited from his father and then approaches MANY people to obtain loans to pay for the necklace. He would the pay the loans back through work and through scheduled payments which charged very high interest rates. We can infer that M. Loisel is extremely dedicated to his wife because he literally put his life on the line by borrowing the money from people who could hurt him if he did not pay them back appropriately. He gave up his whole life just to pay for the necklace, and he did this for his wife, Mathilde. “ Loisel possessed eighteen thousand francs which his father had left him. He would borrow the rest. …He did borrow, asking a thousand francs of one, five hundred of another, five louis here, three louis there. He gave notes, took up ruinous obligations, dealt with usurers, and all the race of lenders. He compromised all the rest of his life, risked his signature without even knowing if he could meet it; and frightened by the pains yet to come, by the black misery which was about to fall upon him, by the prospect of all the physical privations and of all the moral tortures which he was to suffer.” (pages 197-198) 7. Give another example of what M. Loisel is like. Give an example and explain what that proves about him. • Possible Answers: • • • • • • • He gave up the money he was saving so his wife could buy a nice dress for the dinner. He went to a party and stayed MUCH later than he wanted to because his wife was having such a great time. When they left, he was to be at work in six hours. He gave up all of his money and his entire life to replace the necklace and then to pay back everyone who lent him money. All of these actions show that M. Loisel is an extremely selfless, modest man. He doesn’t need the luxuries his wife wanted, yet he was willing to do anything to make his wife happy by attempting to get those luxuries for her. “ He compromised all the rest of his life, risked his signature without even knowing if he could meet it……”(page 198, paragraph 1) “Her husband had been sleeping since midnight, in a little deserted anteroom, with three other gentlemen whose wives were having a good time.” (page 195, paragraph 2) “All was ended, for her. And as to him, he reflected that he must be at the Ministry at ten o’clock.” (page 196, paragraph 3) 8. Find one sentence that reveals Mme. Loisel HAD been living in a situation that was not quite as impoverished as her opinion of it. Possible Answers: “She came to know what heavy housework meant and the odious cares of the kitchen.” (page 198, paragraph 4) To NOT know what heavy housework or cares of the kitchen were, it means she could have had it much worse. “They dismissed their servant…” (page Anyone who has a servant definitely does NOT have it THAT bad! 9. How long does it take for the Loisel’s to pay off their debt? What does Mme. Loisel have to do in that time period? How does she change physically? It took the Loisels ten years to pay off their debt. Mme. Loisel has to do all of the jobs a lower class peasant would do. It was all manual, hard labor. Mme. Loisel now seems much older than she had. She is hard, strong, and crude. Her appearance is no longer as beautiful as it was, her skin is weathered from hard labor, and her general manner has become more coarse. “She came to know what heavy housework meant and the odious cares of the kitchen. She washed the dishes, using her rosy nails on the greasy pots and pans. She washed the dirty linen, the shirts, the dishcloths, which, which dried upon the line…she carried the slops of water down to the street every morning, stopping for breath at every landing.” (page 198, paragraph 4) “Mme. Loisel looked old now. She had become the woman of impoverished householdsstrong and hard and rough. With frowsy hair, skirts askew, and red hands…” (page 198-199) 10. What happens when Mme. Loisel meets Mme. Forestier on the Champ Elysees? Mme. Forestier does not even recognize her friend, Mathilde when she approached her. She then tells her friend that the diamond necklace was NOT real (“paste) and that it was worth no more than five hundred francs. “ Oh, my poor Mathilde! Why, my necklace was paste. It was worth at most five hundred francs!” (page 201, last paragraph) 11. What do you think Mme. Loisel’s reaction would be when she learned that she had altered the complete course of her life unnecessarily? This is an opinion question, but based on what we know about Mme. Loisel, we can probably assume she will consume herself with the lost years for many more FUTURE years being that she is not one to let go of things. She will also probably never stop dreaming about “the good life.” “…when her husband was at the office, she sat down near the window, and she thought of that gay evening of long ago, of that ball where she had been so beautiful and so feted. What would have happened if she had not lost that necklace? Who knows? Who knows? How life is strange and changeful! “ ( page 199, paragraph 1) 12. What point of view is this story told in? This story is told in third person limited omniscient point of view. The narrator is not part of the story, but knows the thoughts and feelings of Mathilde only. “ She thought of the silent antechambers hung with Oriental tapestry…” (page 191, paragraph 3) 13. Direct Characterization “She dressed plainly because she could not dress well, but she was as unhappy as though she has really fallen from her proper station…” (page 191, paragraph 2) The author is directly stating these facts about Mme. Loisel in the beginning of the story. There is nothing to assume since we are being told straight out. 13. Indirect Characterization “It annoys me not to have a single jewel, not a single stone, nothing to put on. I shall look like distress. I should almost rather not go at all.” (page 193, last paragraph) Through what Mme. Loisel says, we can tell that she is not grateful for the invitation to the ball OR the fact that her husband gave her 400 francs to buy a new dress. It is proving to the reader how selfish she truly is.