Letter Found on a Drowned Man (Maupassant)

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Letter Found on a Drowned Man
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man who never experienced love shared a night on a boat with a woman, feeling a brief moment of enchantment before it was shattered by a trivial comment, leaving him disillusioned.

A man once claimed that he had never been in love, despite having met many women. He believed that he was too critical of women to be entirely dominated by their charm. He thought that a woman's moral and physical nature should be completely harmonious for him to fall in love, but he had never met such a woman. He also believed that people's physical appearance should correspond with their thoughts and emotions.

One day, the man met a woman who wanted to spend a night with him on a boat on the river.

The Narrator — narrator; critical of women, seeking harmony in love; never experienced love.
The Woman — emotional, attractive, and desiring a romantic night on a boat; playful, dreamy.

They rowed under the moonlight, listening to the sounds of nature. The woman asked him to recite poetry, and he reluctantly complied. They eventually lay down side by side in the boat, looking at the stars, and the man felt a strange and poignant emotion welling up within him. He felt an intimate connection with the woman, and for a moment, he believed that he might be in love.

I feel that I am in heaven. How beautiful! Oh! if you only loved me … a little!!!

As the sun began to rise, the man was struck by the beauty of the woman, who appeared to be bathed in a rosy glow. He leaned in to kiss her, but she stopped him, saying that he had a caterpillar in his hair.

You’ve got a caterpillar in your hair!

This sudden interruption shattered the man's illusion of love, and he became convinced that he would never fall in love again. However, he acknowledged that one could never be certain about such things.

The man's story was later discovered in a letter found on his body after he had drowned in the river.