The Burglar (Maupassant)

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The Burglar
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: Three intoxicated artists dressed as soldiers captured a burglar, held a mock trial, and eventually befriended him, sharing drinks and letting him go in the morning.

One night, three artists, Sorieul, Le Poittevin, and the narrator, were drinking and joking around at Sorieul's house. They were all dressed in military uniforms and carrying various weapons.

The Narrator — narrator; artist; tipsy, imaginative, and prone to practical jokes.
Sorieul — artist; impulsive, leader of the group, and fond of practical jokes.
Le Poittevin — marine painter; more clear-headed than the others, but still involved in the pranks.

Le Poittevin thought he heard someone in the studio, so they decided to investigate. After searching the room, they found a man hiding in a cupboard. They tied him up and decided to hold a mock trial for him, with Le Poittevin as his defense and the narrator as the prosecution.

The Burglar — elderly man; initially frightened, but eventually drinks and bonds with the artists.
Sorieul says, "

I appoint myself general. Let us hold a council of war.


The man was found guilty and sentenced to death. Sorieul wanted to execute him on the spot, but Le Poittevin suggested they take him to the police station instead. They carried the man, still tied to a board, to the police station, but the chief refused to take him in, thinking it was a joke. They returned to the studio, unsure of what to do with the man.

Feeling pity for the man, they untied him and offered him a drink. They all continued to drink together until morning, when the man announced that he needed to leave. The burglar says, "

I shall be obliged to leave you; I must get home now.


They escorted him to the door, and Sorieul held a candle to light his way out. The narrator concluded the story by saying that the strangest part was that it actually happened.