Short summary - The adornment - Guy de Maupassant

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - The adornment
Guy de Maupassant

VERY BRIEF: A poor woman loses a diamond necklace borrowed from a rich friend, buys her the same, lives in poverty for ten years, paying off a debt, and then finds out that the stones in the necklace were fake.
Graceful and charming, Matilda was the daughter of a poor official. She had no chance of marrying a wealthy man from a good society, so "she accepted the proposal of a minor official of the Ministry of Public Education" Loisel.
Matilda was forced to dress very simply, which made her feel unhappy and rejected.
For women, there is neither caste nor breed - beauty, grace and charm replace them with birth rights and family privileges.
This girl, as if by mistake born into a poor bureaucratic family, was created for a luxurious life. Looking at the bare walls and squalid furnishings of her home, she dreamed of "reception rooms draped with oriental fabrics", spacious salons and flirty living rooms. Sitting down to dine on cabbage soup, Matilda dreamed of fine dining in tapestry dining rooms, sparkling silver and fine china.
From time to time Matilda visited a rich friend, Madame Forestier, with whom she was brought up in a monastery. Returning home, she cried all day with self-pity, longing and despair.
One evening Loisel brought an invitation to a ball at the ministry, where all the high officials would gather. Matilda was rather upset than happy, because she did not have a suitable dress. She was ready to completely abandon the ball, and then her husband gave her the money that he was saving up for a gun.
Soon the dress was ready, but Matilda was still sad - she had no jewelry to emphasize the grace of the new outfit.
It’s such a humiliation to look like a beggar among rich women.
Loiselle advised to borrow the jewelry from Madame Forestier. She willingly agreed to help out her friend. From the many jewels Matilda chose "a magnificent diamond necklace in a black satin case."
At the ball Matilda was the most beautiful of all, "all the men looked at her, asked who she was, and sought the honor of being introduced to her." The minister himself noticed her. The whole evening Matilda danced "with enthusiasm, with passion, ... reveling in the triumph of her beauty," and her husband dozing in the company of three more officials, whose wives were having fun.
The Loiselles left the ball only at four in the morning. They had to get home in a wretched night cab. At home, wanting to finally admire herself, Matilda looked in the mirror and found that the diamond necklace had disappeared, apparently, she lost it on the way home.
Loiselle spent the rest of the night and the next day looking for the necklace. He visited cabs, the police and newspaper offices, where he announced the disappearance. Returning home in the evening, he asked Matilda to write to Madame Forestier that the lock on the necklace had broken and they had given it to be repaired.
The couple were afraid that Madame Forestier would consider them thieves, and decided to compensate for the loss. They went to the jeweler, whose name was on the case, but it turned out that he did not make the necklace - only the case was bought from him. Then, "barely alive with grief," they began to bypass all the jewelers in a row and, finally, they found a similar necklace, which they gave them for 36 thousand francs.
Eighteen thousand francs left Loiselle father, the rest he borrowed, enslaved to the end of his life. He had to get to know the moneylenders and make ruinous commitments. Finally, the required amount was collected, and the necklace was returned to Madame Forestier. She did not even open the case, and the substitution was not found.
Now the Loiselles had to pay off this terrible debt. They calculated the maid and moved into a cheap attic under the very roof. Matilda “learned hard household work,” and her husband worked in the evenings and rewrote manuscripts at night.
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Ten years later, they paid off the debt. Matilda grew old, sounded in her shoulders, became tougher and rougher, walked disheveled, like a mistress from a poor family.
How changeable and capricious life is! How little is needed to save or destroy a person.
One Sunday, walking along the Champs Elysees, Matilda met Madame Forestier, still young and charming. She at first did not recognize her friend, and then with horror asked what had happened to her.
Now Matilda could tell everything without fear of being considered a thief. After listening to the story of the unfortunate friend, Madame Forestier "grabbed her hands in excitement" and said that the diamonds in the lost necklace were fake, and it cost no more than five hundred francs.