Caresses (Maupassant)

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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man and a woman exchanged letters discussing their views on love, physical intimacy, and the role of caresses in relationships, revealing their contrasting perspectives on the matter.

A woman named Geneviève wrote a letter to her friend, expressing her disgust and revulsion at the idea of physical intimacy. She believed that love was divine, but the senses associated with it were shameful and vile. She asked her friend not to speak of it and to remain as they were, loving each other without crossing the line into physicality.

Geneviève — woman who believes in the purity of love and is repulsed by physical intimacy.

No, my friend, do not think any more of it. What you ask of me revolts and disgusts me.

In response, the friend wrote a letter to Geneviève, arguing that physical intimacy was a natural and essential part of love. He quoted a poem by Musset, which described the intense emotions and sensations experienced during intimate moments. The friend acknowledged that sometimes people felt disgust and sadness after giving in to their desires, but he believed that this was only the case when the relationship was not based on genuine love.

Henri — man who passionately defends the importance of physical intimacy and caresses in love.

The friend argued that if two people truly loved each other, their physical connection would only strengthen their bond. He encouraged Geneviève to embrace the pleasures of the body and to see them as beautiful and valuable, rather than shameful.

Let us love flesh because it is beautiful, because it is white and firm, and round and sweet, delicious to lips and hands.

He believed that the only truly happy women were those who experienced a fulfilling physical relationship, as it brought them contentment and peace.

These two letters were later found in a Russian leather pocketbook under a prie-Dieu at the Madeleine, after a Sunday Mass. They were discovered by a person named Maufrigneuse.