Walter Schnaffs’ Adventure (Maupassant)

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Walter Schnaffs’ Adventure
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A fearful Prussian soldier, lost in enemy territory, desperately desired to be captured by the French to avoid further danger. He eventually surrendered and rejoiced in his newfound safety as a prisoner.

Walter Schnaffs was a stout, peaceful man who found himself in the army of the invasion in France. He was terrified of the war and longed to be back home with his wife and four children.

Walter Schnaffs — narrator; stout, fearful Prussian soldier; father of four; gentle, peace-loving.

One day, while on a reconnaissance mission with his regiment, they were ambushed by French sharpshooters. Walter panicked and hid in a ditch, where he remained for days, too afraid to move.

As hunger set in, Walter decided to surrender himself to the French in hopes of being taken prisoner. He approached a nearby castle, where he found a group of servants having dinner. They fled in terror at the sight of him, leaving Walter to eat their abandoned meal. He ate and drank until he passed out from exhaustion.

In the middle of the night, a group of French National Guards stormed the castle, capturing Walter and taking him prisoner. Overjoyed at his capture, Walter danced in his cell, relieved that he was finally safe from the war. The French National Guards, led by Colonel Ratier, were celebrated for their successful retaking of the castle from the enemy.

He was a prisoner! He was saved.

Walter had been worried about his family while lying down to sleep in the field, thinking, "If I should be killed what would become of the little ones? Who would feed them and bring them up?"

If I should be killed what would become of the little ones? Who would feed them and bring them up?

Now, as a prisoner, Walter fantasized about the safety and security of being free from the dangers and hardships of war, safely lodged and fed, under shelter from bullets and swords, without possible apprehension, in a good prison well guarded.