In the short story of Mother Savage by Guy de Maupassant, we learn of what life was like for a widowed mother whose only son goes off to war, the setting taking place in Virelogne, France during the Franco-Prussian war. Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893) lived during this time and participated in the war himself. Through Historical, Biographical, and New Historical critical analysis of the author, and the time period, we will see that the effects of the war and how it greatly influenced this piece of literature. Formally known as Guy de (Henri Rene Albert) Maupassant, he was a French novelist and short-story writer.Order now
He is deemed one of the modern masters of the art of the short story and has influenced practitioners of that genre from his time to the present. (Guy de Maupassant Encarta Encyclopedia 2001. CD-ROM. Microsoft Electronic Publishing, 2001) Maupassant did not grow up a natural writer; In fact he did not consider a literacy career until he was almost thirty years old. Before this, he studied law in Paris, but the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, which destroyed his family’s fortune and forced Maupassant to find work as a government office clerk, interrupted his studies.
To divert himself from the office work he found tedious, he swam, boated, pursued feminine company at fashionable places, and began to write. His parents separated when he was 11 years old. Maupassant grew up in his native Normandy. In 1869 Maupassant started to study law in Paris, but soon, at age 20, he volunteered to serve in the army during Franco-Prussian War. (http://www. online-literature. com/maupassant/ Literature Network) This comes into play when in the text it says: “When the war broke out, Mother Savage’s son, who was then thirty three years old, volunteered, leaving his mother all alone.
However, no one felt sorry for the old woman because everybody knew she had money. “” The author himself also volunteered to fight with the French army. There is not mention if his mother was widowed, but his family’s fortune was destroyed by the outbreak of the war. Could this possibly been what Maupassant desired for his own family that they had money? The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, 1870-71, a conflict between France and Prussia that signaled the rise of German military power and imperialism. (Franco-Prussian War Encarta Encyclopedia 2001. CD-ROM.
Microsoft Electronic Publishing, 2001) We enter further into the story as the Prussians arrived, and they were billeted with the people of the area, according to their wealth and resources of each family. Because Mother Savage was known to “have money- she would be assigned four Prussian soldiers to come into her home. These soldiers would help out around the house, and “could be seen cleaning up the kitchen, washing dishes, chopping wood, peeling potatoes, washing linen-in short, doing all the chores like four good boys working for their own mother. “” (Fiction A Pocket Anthology R. S. Gwyn Page 65 paragraph 3)
These soldiers appeared to be like second sons to Mother Savage, doing what her son would be doing if he were there. The author inserts an interesting thought “She liked them well enough, too, those four enemies of hers; for country people do not feel patriotic hatred-those feelings are reserved for the upper classes. “” (Fiction A Pocket Anthology R. S. Gwyn page 66 paragraph 1) She liked the four soldiers as sons of her own as well, yet she saw them also as the enemy. It wasn’t until she received information of her son’s death that her behavior changed dramatically.
At first it describes her as being overwhelmed by the news. No real emotion at first, as if she is letting reality set in, and then her emotions take over and she begins to cry as she tries to visualize her son’s death She then hears the voices of the four Prussian soldiers coming and she quickly hides the letter in her pocket and met them very calmly. As she was preparing dinner, the soldiers were able to bring back a rabbit so they could have something good to eat for dinner. When it came time to kill the rabbit for dinner she did not have the heart to do it; this was not the first rabbit she has ever had to kill.
One of the soldiers hit the rabbit over the head and she proceeded to prepare the rabbit for dinner and the sight and warmth of the blood made her think about her son who had just been killed in battle by the Prussians. After dinner she asks the soldiers that after a whole month of being together she didn’t even know their names. They understood, with some difficulty what she wanted and gave her their names; she insisted they write it down on a piece of paper along with their addresses of their families. “then she folded up the paper and put it into her pocket, next to the letter which had told her about the death of her son. ” (Fiction A Pocket Anthology R. S. Gwyn page 67 paragraph 6)
She then states “Now I’m going to do something for you- (Fiction A Pocket Anthology R. S. Gwyn page 67 paragraph 7) At this point Mother Savage’s behavior is doubtful. She continues to help the soldiers gather straw and take it into the loft where they sleep. The soldiers began to think that this was unusual; she later explained that this would keep them warm they helped her. The soldiers more or less helped dig their own graves without even knowing it.
After dinner she sat by the fire to warm herself and the soldiers climbed up into the loft to go to sleep. Mother Savage then removes the ladder from the loft leaving the soldiers cut off, and then she begins to fill her kitchen with straw. She then ignites one of the bundles of straw with the fire she used earlier to warm herself and then she “went outside to watch- (Fiction A Pocket Anthology R. S. Gwyn page 68 paragraph 4) Now the question is why didn’t she just walk away? She was holding these soldiers accountable for the death of her son, and someone had to pay for it.
As she was standing there watching, she was “armed with a gun, her dead son’s rifle, to make sure that none of them could escape. “” (Fiction A Pocket Anthology R. S. Gwyn page 68 paragraph 9) Could Mother Savage have felt like she was fighting the war and doing a justice by killing the soldiers, or was she just vengeful and vindictive? It is interesting that “she never went out without a gun slung on her shoulder, her son’s rifle, a rusty weapon whose stock was quire worn from the hands that had rubbed against it;- (Fiction A Pocket Anthology R. S. Gwyn page 65 paragraph 2)
This was all she had left of her family, her dead son’s rifle that she used to remember him often. This was the same rifle that she would use to ensure that not one of the soldiers would escape from the house. She felt she was doing herself and possibly her country a justice, but in the end she was brought to justice for the crimes she had just committed. Is it possible that she wanted the families of the Prussian soldiers to share in the grief that she was in; most likely when the text states: “This one has their names on it so you can write home about them. ” (Fiction A Pocket Anthology R. S. Gwyn page 69 paragraph 3)
Maupassant took the subjects for his pessimistic stories and novels chiefly from the Norman peasant life, the Franco-Prussian War, the behavior of the bourgeoisie, and the fashionable life of Paris. As is evident with the short story of Mother Savage, the author was greatly influenced by the war. Having served in the French Army, many of his stories were written about this particular war.
As it was discussed in class that even today, we are affected one way or the other by the tragedies that took place on September 11, 2001 in New York City, and Washington D. C. Many pieces of literature published after that tragic day, make reference to many of the heroic stories demonstrated by our country’s finest. War affects everybody. Guy de Maupassant is one of those authors that was affected greatly by the war of his time as we are affected by the war of our time.
The Story of an Hour In the short story The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin we learn of what a now widowed woman (Mrs. Mallard) thought and contemplated with the recent knowledge of her husbands death. Before we get into the meaning of the story, let’s take a look at who Kate Chopin was and what would inspire her to write this short story as well as the time in which it was written 1894. Two years before the birth of Katherine O’Flaherty (Kate Chopin), in 1848, there was a Women’s Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls, New York with the intention to create better lives for women.
It began when Elizabeth Cady Stanton met with four other female friends for tea one hot day and when the topic changed to women in society; she strongly spoke of her belief that women should be treated equally. The Revolutionary War had been fought so that they could win their freedom from tyranny, but women had yet to be free. They were not allowed to vote, they were not allowed to work jobs other than teaching positions, and in the eyes of the law, “married women were legally dead”.
So as we can see, women in this point in time had many chains yet to shake off, and felt more like prisoners than citizens in their own time. In the story, Kate Chopin expresses the freedoms that are now at her feet with the news of her husband’s death. She expressed many of the feelings that a woman might think if she was in the same position. But women of that day would never discuss these feeling out loud, and Kate Chopin did in fact this. In the time that Kate Chopin was growing from a child to a woman, there was an ongoing battle for women’s rights.
She was raised in a culture where many people were holding onto society and values the way they were, and yet many others were feeling there was need for change, that change being the Women’s Right’s Movement. It is unknown how Kate’s mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother felt about this fight for women’s rights, but one can assume that being the strong women they were, most likely they had very strong beliefs in women’s rights as well. They had, after all, already been widowed and had been the “man” and the “woman” in the house for years.
The O’Flaherty women had strong souls and they knew how to take care of themselves. Safely said, Kate Chopin had a strong desire to be her own woman. She would make her own rules. Having been raised and graduated from a very prestigious Catholic school, Kate was taught very strict values and guidelines. She doesn’t seem to use those values when living her life, as one would see by her many affairs after her husband’s death, one with a married man. Kate appears to be a woman filled with passion and desires; she went after what she wanted and she said what she thought, even when it was scandalous.
Kate does not restrict herself to a certain way of acting, living, or writing, as is seen in the content of her stories and novels. In a time that it was not acceptable for women to speak out about sexuality and independence, Kate screams it in her writing. Her stories brought on many controversies and was not widely appreciated or accepted until many years after Kate’s death. Kate Chopin leaves a legacy behind, though. Along with many very popular stories, her “unacceptable” literatures have now been published and are considered masterpieces.
Chopin wrote of a time in the future where women had the freedom to write what they felt, but she did it in a time when it was unacceptable. Through her writing, Kate told a story of women’s rights in their own. She fought this battle alone and it was Kate Chopin’s boldness and courage, which left her to stand out among all others. Mrs. Mallard is known at the beginning of the story to have a heart condition. What kind of a heart condition, we do not know.
As Mrs. Mallard learns of her husband’s death “She did not hear the story as many women have heard the same, with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance. “” (Fiction A Pocket Anthology R. S. Gwyn page 71 paragraph 2) She is demonstrating that she is not remorseful and that the institution of marriage was more of a prison to her than anything else. She then asks to be left alone as she goes to her room, and this is where the thoughts start churning in her mind as to what she is going to do next with a metaphorical chain that has now been loosed from her.
Now that she was a widow, she had the social status that was acceptable by society. “There would be no powerful will bending her in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow creature. “” (Fiction A Pocket Anthology R. S. Gwyn page 72 paragraph 4) In 1855 on November 1, being one of the founders of the Pacific Railroad, her father was aboard the train on its inaugural journey over the Gasconade Bridge, which collapsed, killing many of its passengers.
After only two months into her term at Sacred Heart, Kate came home and was to be educated by her great-grandmother. Eliza Faris O’Flaherty, Kate’s mother, was a member of the prominent French-Creole community and a member of an exclusive social circle. Eliza was only 27 years old when she heard of her 50-year-old husbands’ death. She may have been depressed, yet liberated by the news, or so Kate Chopin’s “Story of an Hour” suggests: “a wife, hearing of her husband’s death in a train accident, delights in thoughts of freedom.
As we can see by this family tragedy, Kate Chopin wrote this story as an expression of how she felt about women and women’s rights. She was also sharing what her grandmother felt as she lost her husband in a “railroad disaster. “” Could this be a re-creation of her grandmothers situation? It us unknown to us whether or not Kate’s grandmother had a heart condition or not, or how she died, but Mrs. Mallard was overwhelmed once again at the knowledge of her husband’s state of being alive that she died of “heart disease-of joy that kills. “”
Once again we can see that stories from people’s lives influence what we write. This was evident in the life of Kate Chopin. She was known as “A Woman Ahead of Her Time- in that she stepped out of the traditional role of a woman of her time, and made it known the feelings of women however controversial it may be, she made it known to all.