A Wise Man (Maupassant)

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A Wise Man
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man's health deteriorated due to his excessive love for his wife, but he eventually found a solution by allowing her to have a lover, which saved their marriage and his life.

Two friends, Blérot and the narrator, had been inseparable since childhood, sharing their most intimate thoughts and experiences with each other. When Blérot announced that he was getting married, the narrator felt betrayed, fearing that the marriage would come between their friendship. After the wedding, the narrator went on an 18-month trip to the East, and upon his return, he found Blérot looking pale and sickly.

Blérot — narrator's childhood friend; initially passionate and deeply in love with his wife; later, weakened and desperate.

Concerned for his friend's health, the narrator questioned Blérot about his condition. Blérot confessed that his love for his wife was killing him, as he could not resist her charms and felt physically drained from their constant intimacy.

Well, I have got a wife who is killing me, that is all.

The narrator suggested that Blérot should talk to his wife about the issue, but Blérot was afraid she would not understand.

Blérot's Wife — tall, slender, pale; charming, gentle, and tender; unknowingly causing her husband's health to decline.

Six months later, the narrator ran into Blérot again, and he appeared to be in much better health. Blérot invited the narrator to his home for dinner, where they met another man named Lucien Delabarre.

Lucien Delabarre — tall, dark, bearded man; society Hercules; becomes Blérot's wife's lover.

The narrator noticed that Blérot's wife and Lucien seemed to exchange furtive glances, but their behavior was otherwise perfectly proper.

After dinner, Blérot took the narrator for a walk along the boulevards, reminiscing about their old times together. The narrator tried to ask Blérot about his improved health, but Blérot brushed off the question, saying it would have been foolish to let himself be destroyed by his love for his wife.

After all, it would have been too stupid to have let oneself go to perdition like that.

The two friends then decided to visit some girls, as they used to do in their bachelor days.