The text explains that «il vivait comme les bêtes de bois» and describes another recurring theme of hunting (Maupassant Le Gueux 83). By being compared to a beast of the forest, he is not only reduced to an animal but receives the status of both a predator and a prey. After two days, he has received no food. Les paysannes, or the farmers, shout at him to leave because they gave him bread three days ago. Maupassant reminds us that this is December and there is a cold wind, and « c’ était en décembre, un vent froid courait sur les champs » (84). As the story deepens, the weather gets colder. Maupassant gives life to Cloche’s hunger, « la faim jetait une détresse dans son âme confuse et lourde » (84). Cloche’s hunger is palpable, and Maupassant gives it life by making hunger a noun and allowing it to overcome Cloche’s body. After begging more, Cloche is given nothing. He goes to neighboring farms. He is completely hopeless, « C’ était un de ces jours froids et tristes ou les cœurs se serrent ou
Kuhn 24 les esprits s’irritent ou l’ âme est sombre ou la main ne s’ouvre ni pour donner ni pour secourir » (Maupassant Le Gueux 84). Day by day, Cloche’s destiny is even bleaker. Not only are the days described as cold and sad, but also Maupassant’s descriptions seem to fit into how Cloche feels inwardly. The day is said to be a day when hands do not open either to give money or food, which is the opposite of his need. He finally finds a ditch in a land owned by Chiquet where he positions himself, « il alla s’abattre au coin d’un fosse » (Maupassant Le Gueux 84). « S’abattre » is a double entendre: it can mean “ to collapse on ” but it can also mean “ to strike on ” , and it is generally used as a verb to describe killing prey. His hunger is active, personified: it tortures and immobilizes him, « il resta longtemps immobile, torturé par la faim » (84). The weather gets colder, with a « vent glacé », or an icy wind present (Maupassant Le Gueux 85). Cloche hopes from some sort of miracle from heaven and he miraculously sees some black hens wandering in search for food. He finds them like he has been for years now, looking for food slowly and surely, « elles piquaient d’u coup de bec un grain ou un insecte invisible, puis continuait leur recherche lente et sure » (85). Cloche lets his hunger trump his logic, and takes a rock and hits a hen. He never even processed that this could be stealing; he was simply overcome with hunger. Unfortunately, the Farmer Chiquet found out and cuffed and kicked Cloche. Cloche is defenseless, « [il] ne pouvait se défendre » (Maupassant Le Gueux 85). Interestingly, Cloche has been a handicapped cripple most of his life, yet this is the time he feels utterly defenseless. The town people show up and are tired and weary of Cloche. They hit him and hurt him. Maupassant really depicts the social abuses and violence against
Kuhn 25 Cloche, « Cloche, a moitié mort, saignant et crevant de faim, demeura couché sur le sol…il n’avait toujours pas m angé » (85). Here, Maupassant reminds us that after the beating , Cloche still hasn’t eaten. Maupassant maintains a very believable story but
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