05-27-2010 05:16 PM
I’ve been patiently awaiting the imminent discovery of Mme. de Marelle’s infidelity that might result in a duel between M. de Marelle and Georges Duroy. Instead the author is staging a duel between Charles Duroy, the newly promoted editor of the “Echoes” of “La Vie Francaise,” and a reporter from an insignificant newspaper “La Plume.” It looks like the only way for the latter to protect his honor of being an honest journalist is to challenge Duroy to a pistol-fought contest. The fact that the duel results from a squabble over the presentation of facts that surrounded “a dispute between a middle-aged woman and a butcher as to the weight of some cutlets” is a great example of the “quality” of the material printed in the newspapers.
Duroy “felt that he could fight the entire universe” when he found out that neither he nor his challenger had suffered any injuries in the pistol fight. Who could have thought the young man had spent the previous night pacing the floor, with the only thought occupying his mind, and that was whether he would survive the duel! Duroy becomes a celebrity at the newspaper because he “has defended the colors of “La Vie Francaise.” Having become a hero in the eyes of Mme. de Marelle, Duroy is leading a double life by letting their relations “become quite conjugal” and, at the same time, resorting to every means to convince Mme. Forestier to become his wife. Madeleine Forestier sounds reserved when she consents to becoming Duroy’s wife. The conditions that the young woman puts forward for her future husband to abide by make it clear their marriage is going to be a business association that includes everything but private family values and bringing up children. The young widow must have personal reasons for keeping the date of the wedding in secret; I hope to get some hints for the fact later in the book. Madeleine’s mentioning of having been raised by humble parents brings forward the idea that she might get closer to Duroy once she meets his parents and visits his childhood home. Unfortunately, the visit turns out to be a disaster and the newlyweds have to leave the village of Canteleu the next morning. We’re left to wonder whether Duroy, the man with “that power of attraction which he felt within him – a power so irresistible that all women yielded to it" – will be able to make his wife not only “an associate, an ally” but a happy woman.” -- Ina