The Closet (Maupassant)

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The Closet
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man sought company to escape his depression and ended up spending the night with a prostitute, only to discover her young son hidden in a closet, forced to sleep there due to their living situation.

One evening, a man found himself feeling extremely depressed and decided to go out to distract himself. He wandered around Paris, eventually ending up at the Folies-Bergères, where he met a woman and agreed to spend the night with her.

The Narrator — narrator; depressed, curious, and compassionate.
The Prostitute — mother of a young boy; resigned to her profession; protective of her son.

They went to her apartment, and after some conversation, the man began to question the woman about her past. She told him about her first lover, an oarsman, and how she had a son named Florentin with him.

Florentin — young boy; son of the prostitute; frightened, innocent, and forced to sleep in a closet.

As they continued talking, the man heard strange noises coming from another part of the room.

It is nothing, my dear, I assure you it is nothing.

He discovered a hidden door and found a young boy, who turned out to be Florentin. The woman explained that she couldn't afford to send him to school or rent another room, so he had to stay in the closet when she had clients. The boy had fallen from his makeshift bed, a chair filled with straw, and was frightened and upset.

It was not my fault, mamma, it was not my fault. I was asleep and I fell. You mustn't scold me, for it was not my fault.

The man felt sympathy for the child and his mother, who were both trapped in their difficult circumstances. He left the apartment and returned to his own home, reflecting on the sad situation he had witnessed.