My Uncle Sosthène (Maupassant)

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My Uncle Sosthène
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man played a prank on his freethinker uncle by sending a Jesuit priest to his home, but the joke backfired when the uncle became a devout believer and disinherited his nephew.

A man and his uncle, Sosthène, had very different beliefs. The uncle was a freethinker and a Freemason, while the man was more open to various religious beliefs. They often disagreed on matters of religion and politics, with the uncle being very anti-clerical and the man finding his uncle's beliefs to be rather foolish.

The Narrator — narrator; sceptical, mischievous, and regretful of his actions.
Uncle Sosthène — freethinker turned religious; stubborn, opinionated, and easily influenced.

My uncle Sosthène was a freethinker, like many others, a freethinker from sheer stupidity.

One day, the uncle decided to host a dinner on Good Friday, a day when Christians traditionally abstain from eating meat. Despite the man's protests, the uncle went ahead with his plans, inviting several friends to join them at a restaurant. They all indulged in a lavish meal, and by the end of the night, the uncle was quite drunk.

As a prank, the man decided to send a Jesuit priest, whom his uncle despised, to his uncle's house, claiming that the uncle was on his deathbed and wanted to make peace with the Church. The man hid nearby to see what would happen, expecting a confrontation between the two.

The Jesuit Priest — kind, devoted, and persuasive; plays a significant role in Uncle Sosthène's conversion.

At any rate, he wishes it, and if it does him no good it can do him no harm.

To his surprise, the priest stayed at the uncle's house all night, and when he finally left the next day, he appeared quite satisfied. The man, now worried about the consequences of his prank, went to visit his uncle, who was still in bed. The uncle explained that the priest had come to him in a time of need, having had a divine revelation about his illness, and had taken care of him throughout the night.

The man was shocked to learn that his uncle had not only accepted the priest's help but had also begun to respect his beliefs. The uncle even admitted to reading a religious book the priest had given him and found it quite interesting. The man left, feeling that his prank had backfired.

In the end, the uncle became a devout convert to religion, and as a result, he made a new will, disinheriting his nephew in favor of the Jesuit priest. The narrator laments the consequences of his prank, as his uncle's conversion leads to his disinheritance, revealing the story's ironic twist.