The Hole (Maupassant)

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The Hole
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man accidentally killed another man during a heated argument over a fishing spot, while their wives fought nearby. He was later acquitted in court.

Léopold Renard, an upholsterer, was accused of inflicting blows and wounds sufficient to cause death. He explained that the incident was an unfortunate accident and that he was the chief victim.

Léopold Renard — narrator; upholsterer; gentle, strong, and easily provoked by his wife.

He and his wife, Mélie, were passionate about river fishing and had discovered a perfect spot in Poissy.

Mélie Renard — Léopold's wife; short-tempered, aggressive, and instigative.

They would go there every Sunday to fish and enjoy the fresh air. One Saturday, Léopold drank a bottle of wine that kept him awake late into the night. As a result, he overslept the next morning and arrived late at their usual fishing spot. To their dismay, another couple had already claimed the spot.

Désiré Flamèche — the deceased man; thin, wore white ducks and a big straw hat.
Mme. Flamèche — Désiré's wife; fat, aggressive, and confrontational.

Léopold and Mélie decided to fish nearby, hoping the other couple would leave soon. As the day went on, the other couple caught several large fish, much to Léopold and Mélie's frustration. The two women began to argue, and the situation escalated into a physical fight.

You’re no better than a liar.’—‘You’re no better than a trollop.’—‘You’re no better than a drab.’—‘You’re no better than a slut.’

Léopold tried to intervene, but the other man also got involved. In the chaos, Léopold accidentally punched the man, causing him to fall into the river and drown.

I tell you, it is an unfortunate accident of which I was all along the chief victim and which I didn’t plan at all.

Witnesses corroborated Léopold's account of the events, and he was ultimately acquitted of the charges.