The Immoralist | Study Guide

André Gide

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Course Hero. "The Immoralist Study Guide." Course Hero. 22 Nov. 2020. Web. 28 Jan. 2022. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Immoralist/>.

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Course Hero. (2020, November 22). The Immoralist Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved January 28, 2022, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Immoralist/

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Course Hero. "The Immoralist Study Guide." November 22, 2020. Accessed January 28, 2022. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Immoralist/.

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Course Hero, "The Immoralist Study Guide," November 22, 2020, accessed January 28, 2022, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Immoralist/.

The Immoralist | Symbols

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The Scissors

The scissors that Michel's companion and helper Moktir steals in Part 1 and Mélanque retrieves in Part 2 represent Michel's corruption throughout the novel. Michel willingly allows Moktir to steal the scissors much as he willingly allows his brush with death to change him for the worse. When Mélanque presents Michel the scissors a year later in Paris, France, they are rusted and unusable. They are a physical manifestation of Michel's final mental state and irredeemability. Like the scissors Michel is "shapeless, rusty, blunted, twisted."

The Shroud of Night

Nighttime represents the darkness surrounding Michel's mental transformation and his ability to undergo this transformation in secret. In a single night, he relates his story to his three friends in Sidi Bel Abbes. Throughout the novel crucial moments happen at night such as Michel's decision to beat tuberculosis, leaving his wife to visit prostitutes, his lengthy conversation with Mélanque, and poaching with Alcide.

Expelled Blood

Blood represents death throughout The Immoralist. The first sight of blood on Michel's handkerchief terrifies him, and he tries to hide it from Marceline. The blood he coughs up during his recovery in Biskra is a reminder of his mortality. The same feelings return when Marceline has a miscarriage. Her bedsheets are covered in blood. She also coughs up blood when she contracts Michel's tuberculosis. Despite Michel's love for Marceline, seeing the blood causes Michel to feel disgust. He cannot separate his love for his wife from the negative emotions that blood causes in him to experience.

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