In the Country (Maupassant)

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In the Country
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: Two families with young children lived side by side; one family refused to sell their child to a wealthy couple, while the other agreed, leading to resentment and a bitter outcome.

Two peasant families, the Tuvaches and the Vallins, lived side by side in cottages at the foot of a hill near a seaside resort. Both families had four children each, and the children played together all day long. One day, a wealthy couple, Madame Henri d'Hubières and her husband, stopped by the cottages and took an interest in the children. Madame d'Hubières was particularly fond of one of the Tuvache children, Charlot, and wanted to adopt him.

Charlot Tuvache — young man; not sold to the wealthy couple; hardworking, resentful.

The couple offered the Tuvaches a monthly pension of one hundred francs in exchange for Charlot, but the Tuvaches refused, outraged at the idea of selling their child.

You want me to sell you Charlot? Oh, no, indeed!

The d'Hubières then approached the Vallins with the same offer for their youngest child, Jean. After some negotiation, the Vallins agreed to a monthly pension of one hundred and twenty francs and allowed the couple to adopt Jean.

Jean Vallin — young man; sold to the wealthy couple; well-educated, successful.

Years passed, and the Tuvaches remained poor while the Vallins lived comfortably on the pension they received. The Tuvache family was proud of their decision not to sell Charlot, and they often taunted the Vallins for selling their child. Charlot, now 21, felt superior to his peers because he had not been sold.

One day, Jean returned to the village as a successful and wealthy young man. He visited his birth parents, who proudly showed him off to the neighbors. Charlot, envious of Jean's success, confronted his parents and blamed them for not accepting the d'Hubières' offer. He claimed that their decision had ruined his life and that he would have been better off if he had been sold like Jean.

Angry and bitter, Charlot decided to leave his family and the village, unable to forgive his parents for their decision. As he left, he heard the Vallins celebrating Jean's return, and he shouted at his parents, calling them "silly yokels" before disappearing into the night.