Short summary - The Day of the Dolphin - Robert Merle

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - The Day of the Dolphin
Robert Merle

Seventies of this century. Professor Sevilla. has been studying dolphins for a long time and successfully. The truly amazing abilities of these animals, and most importantly, their minds, arouse general interest - both among the curious public and among various departments. In the United States, where Professor Sevilla lives and works, five hundred million dollars are spent annually on dolphinology. And among the organizations that invest big money in the study of dolphins, there are many who work for the war.

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Sevilla tries to teach dolphins to speak human. His work is overseen by two competing intelligence agencies at once; one conditionally he calls "blue", and the other - "green". In his opinion, some follow him with a tinge of hostility, others with a tinge of benevolence. And although Sevilla is exclusively interested in his work, his natural sense of justice often makes him reflect on the correctness of the policies pursued by his country and the president. This is especially true of the war in Vietnam, which the United States has been waging for a long time and unsuccessfully.

Both departments know every step of the professor, even how and with whom he makes love. Spying on his personal life especially infuriates the professor: the temperamental Sevilla, in whose veins a lot of southern blood flows, is divorced and often starts romances, hoping to meet the woman of her dreams. However, it seems that he finally succeeds: his current assistant Arlette Lafey becomes his lover, and then his wife.

In addition to Miss Lafay, Peter, Michael, Bob, Suzy, Lisbeth and Maggie are working at the Sevilla station. They are all very different: Peter and Suzy are great workers; Michael is more interested in politics, he adheres to leftist views and opposes the Vietnam War, Maggie is an eternal loser in his personal life; Lisbeth deliberately emphasizes his independence, and Bob is a secret informant of one of the departments.

Professor Sevilla achieves amazing success: Ivan the dolphin begins to speak. So that the Fa, as the dolphin calls itself, is not lonely, the professor puts the "dolphin" Bessie, or, as the Fa says, Bi, next to him. Suddenly, the Fa stops speaking. The laboratory's existence is in jeopardy. Sevilla then applies the "carrot and stick" method to Ivan: the dolphins are given fish only when the Fa asks for it in words. The result is not encouraging: The Fa reaches out for the fish with a minimum of words. Then the female is taken from him and the condition is set: Fa speaks, and B is given to him. The Fa agrees. Now Fa and Bi teaching is progressing by leaps and bounds. ...

The work of the laboratory is classified, but the keen Sevilla does not attach any importance to this. Suddenly he was summoned “on the carpet”. A certain Mr.Adame reproaches the professor for the fact that, because of his negligence, there was a leak of classified information - the resigned Elizabeth Dawson gave the Russians secret information about the work of the laboratory and said that she did so on the instructions of the professor himself. However, Adams knows that this is a lie: Elizabeth made such a statement out of jealousy. However, he very unequivocally warns Sevilla about the need to be more vigilant, otherwise he will be suspended from work. In the end, Sevilla, hotly attached to his pets, agrees to a compromise: to publish the results of his experiment, but in the form in which he is allowed. Seville is allowed to hold a press conference with dolphins: “there” they understand that since the enemy already knows about this work, it makes no sense to keep it secret any longer, it is better to publish it in the most catchy, pseudo-scientific form. Moreover, Sevilla does not suspect for what purposes "there" intend to use the dolphins he trained ...

The press conference with Fa and B becomes a real sensation. Dolphins intelligently answer a variety of questions, from "What is your attitude towards the President of the United States?" to "What is your favorite actress?" Fa and B show remarkable erudition and an undeniable sense of humor in their responses. Journalists learn that dolphins have learned not only to talk, but also to read and watch TV shows. And as everyone unanimously notes, the Fa and Bi love people.

The United States embraces dolphin addiction: records of press conferences are sold out instantly, toy dolphins are sold everywhere, costumes "a la dolphins" are in vogue, everyone is dancing "dolphin" dances ... And other countries are frightened by another scientific achievement of the United States, their governments feverishly pondering how soon the Americans will be able to use dolphins for military purposes ...

Sevilla writes a popular book about dolphins, and it is a dizzying success. The professor becomes a millionaire, but he is still passionate about his work and leads a modest life. The trouble comes unexpectedly: in the absence of Sevilla, Bob takes Fa and B away from the laboratory, and the professor is told that such is the order.

The angry Sevilla wants to leave the country, but he is not released. Then he buys a small island in the Caribbean and settles there with Arlette, founds a laboratory at his own expense and starts working again with dolphins. One of them - Daisy not only learns to speak, but also teaches the professor the dolphin language.

Suddenly, the world is shocked by the news: the American cruiser "Little Rock" was destroyed by an atomic explosion on the high seas near Haiphong. China is called the culprit of the explosion, anti-Chinese hysteria begins in America, all immigrants from Southeast Asia are being persecuted. The US President is ready to declare war on China and is supported by the majority of Americans. The Soviet Union warns that the consequences of the American aggression against China may be irreversible. Adama comes to Seville, He reports that Fa and B have completed some task of a rival agency, and he needs to find out what it was, He wants to return the dolphins to Seville on the condition that the professor will give him a record of their story. Adame says that after returning from a mission, the dolphins stopped talking, and he hopes that Sevilla will be able to get them to talk. He also informs Sevilla of the death of Bob, who was working with the Fa and B.

Dolphins are brought in. Fa and Bi refuse not only to speak, but also to take the fish out of Sevilla's hands. The professor, in the language of whistles, tries to find out what happened and finds out that "the man is not good."

Another problem arises: Daisy and her chosen one Jim do not want to give up the harbor to new dolphins. Sevilla leads Fa and B to a remote grotto.

At night, the island is attacked by the military and killed the dolphins in the harbor. Everyone thinks Fa and B died, only Sevilla and Arlette know the truth, but they are silent. Adama comes to make sure of the death of the dolphins and to find out if they had time to tell the professor anything. Leaving the island, Adame warns that Sevilla, most likely, will face the fate of the dolphins.


Sevilla and Arlette Go to Grotto Fa and B tell how they were tricked into blowing up the cruiser Little Rock. Those who sent them did everything to make them die along with the cruiser, and only by a miracle they managed to escape. They told Bob about everything, but he didn't believe them. Since then, they have not wanted to talk to people.

The military surrounds the island. Sevilla and Arlette decide to flee to Cuba to tell the world the truth about the actions of the American military. Under cover of night, they get into a boat, with the help of dolphins, noiselessly pass the barrage posts and swim in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea.