A Family (Maupassant)

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A Family
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man visited his old friend in a small town, finding him married with five children and living a dull life, focused on their greedy, paralysed grandfather's antics during meals.

A man visited his old friend Simon after not seeing him for fifteen years. They used to be inseparable, sharing the same interests and understanding each other completely. However, Simon had married a provincial girl and settled down in a small town. The man wondered how his friend had changed over the years.

Upon arriving, the man was surprised to find Simon had become a stout, happy man with a large family. Simon introduced his five children and his wife, who had transformed from a thin, pale girl into a stout, motherly figure.

Simon Radevin — narrator's old friend; married with five children; stout, happy, and proud of his family.
Madame Radevin — Simon's wife; mother of five children; stout, overdressed, and focused on her family.

"What can you expect? Happy days! Good living! Good nights! Eating and sleeping, that’s my life!" Simon says this to the narrator when they meet at the train station, explaining his weight gain and the nature of his life in the small town.

The man felt pity for his friend, who seemed to have lost his former intelligence and wit. "This is my poor little place. It’s delightful," Simon shows the narrator his house and garden, fishing for a compliment, which the narrator provides. This occurs when they first arrive at Simon's home.

During dinner, the family was entertained by the antics of the wife's elderly, paralyzed grandfather. The old man was greedy for food, and the family found amusement in teasing him by withholding dishes and watching his desperate attempts to reach them.

Grandfather — Madame Radevin's grandfather; old, paralysed, and greedy for food.

The man felt sorry for the old man, who was denied the only pleasure he had left in life. "Do give him a little more rice. Oh! no, my dear chap, if he ate too much at his age, it might be bad for him," the narrator pleads with Simon to give the greedy grandfather more rice during dinner, but Simon refuses, citing concern for the old man's health.

After a long evening, the man retired to his room, feeling sad and reflecting on the changes in his friend's life. He thought about Simon's five children and his unattractive wife, and how different their lives had become since they were young and carefree.