My Uncle Jules (Maupassant)

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My Uncle Jules
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A poor family hoped for the return of a long-lost uncle who had supposedly made a fortune in America, only to discover him working as a destitute oyster seller on a boat.

A poor old man with white hair begged for alms, and Joseph Davranche gave him five francs. Joseph then shared a story about his family, who were originally from Havre and were not rich. His father worked hard and earned very little, while his mother often had harsh words for her husband. They had two daughters, and the family would often dream of the return of Joseph's Uncle Jules, who had gone to America to make his fortune after squandering his own inheritance.

Joseph Davranche — narrator; young man from a poor family; observant, compassionate.
Father — Joseph's father; hardworking, hopeful, and submissive to his wife.
Mother — Joseph's mother; bitter, critical, and concerned about appearances.
Uncle Jules — Joseph's long-lost uncle; once a source of hope for the family, now a poor, old oyster seller.

That poor unfortunate reminds me of a story which I shall tell you, the memory of which continually pursues me.

One day, the family went on a trip to Jersey, and while on the boat, they noticed an old man opening oysters who bore a striking resemblance to Uncle Jules. Joseph's father spoke to the captain, who confirmed that the man was indeed Jules, but he had fallen on hard times and did not want to return to his family in Havre because he owed them money.

It's he! It's he!

The family decided to keep their distance from Jules, not wanting their son-in-law to find out about their shameful relative. Joseph, however, felt a strong desire to speak to his uncle and offer him some consolation. As they approached Jersey, Joseph gave Jules a tip of ten sous, which surprised his mother. The family remained silent as they continued their journey, with the shadow of Uncle Jules hanging over them.