Short summary - Boule de Suif (Ball of Fat) - Boule de suif - Guy de Maupassant

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - Boule de Suif (Ball of Fat) - Boule de suif
Guy de Maupassant

VERY BRIEF: Traders on business are detained by a Prussian officer. He demands that the prostitute who finds herself among them surrenders to him. The girl succumbs to the persuasion of her companions, and they turn away from her.

Winter, French city of Rouen. The Franco-Prussian war is going on. The Prussian army occupies the city. The Germans allow several traders to leave the city for Le Havre on business.
Early in the morning, ten people leave Rouen in the carriage of the Normandy. Among them: a wholesale wine merchant with his wife, a paper mill owner with his wife, a count with his wife, two nuns, a Democrat Cornudet, and a prostitute nicknamed Pyshka. Men, adherents of the Conservative Party, unite against Cornude, and women begin to discuss the prostitute Pyshka.
The crew drives very slowly, constantly getting stuck in snowdrifts. Expecting to arrive quickly, the passengers did not stock up on provisions, and soon became terribly hungry, but there was no tavern or farm where they could buy food on the road. By three o'clock in the afternoon, Pyshka, who did not want to stop in taverns and intended to eat her own supplies on the trip, could not stand it and took out a supply of food for three days. At first, Pyshka hesitates to treat arrogant gentlemen, but soon even virtuous ladies step over their pride and join the meal.
Pyshka says that she cannot see the Prussians on the streets of Rouen and left her hometown out of a sense of patriotism. The night is coming. The journey has been going on for 13 hours. Soon the police stop the crew to check their documents, after which everyone decides to spend the night at the "Commercial Hotel". The innkeeper informs Pyshka that the Prussian policeman wants to talk to her. She goes and returns indignant, but does not tell anyone what happened. Everyone is having supper. At night, Cornudet pesters Pyshka, but she does not want to provide him with services while Prussian soldiers are staying in the hotel.
In the morning it turns out that the coachman is missing. When they find him, he explains that the Prussian officer has forbidden him to harness the carriage. It soon becomes clear that the police officer will not release them until Pyshka surrenders to him. At first, everyone is outraged by the officer's insolence, but the next day they are already beginning to get angry that she does not do what he wants, and what her "profession" suggests.
On the third day, having gathered in the tavern, everyone begins to figure out how to make Pyshka fulfill the condition, scold her and despise her for being stuck here because of her. Even the nuns participate in persuasion and with sophistry they inspire Pyshka that her sacrifice will be pleasing to God.
By the middle of the fourth day, the servant announces that Pyshka has agreed and will not come out for dinner. Everyone is celebrating, making greasy jokes, drinking champagne. Only Cornudet believes that they have committed an abomination.
The next morning a harnessed carriage awaits everyone. Everyone ignores the Donkey who comes out and leaves her as if she were a leper. When it's time for lunch, everyone gets out the stored food, only Pyshka has nothing - she did not have time to take care of the food. Full of resentment and rage, Pyshka remembers his basket with three days' provisions, which these bigots did not disdain, and begins to cry. Everyone turns away. Cornudet sings, and until the end of the road Pyshka's sobs are interspersed with the stanzas of the Marseillaise.