Wednesday, February 17, 2021

NEB Grade XI Compulsory English Note | Literary Studies | Unit 1 | Lesson 6 Two Little Soldiers | Guy de Maupassant

Lesson:6

NEB Grade XI Compulsory English Note | Literary Studies | Unit 6 Two Little Soldiers | Guy de Maupassant

Two Little Soldiers

Summary

The story 'Two Little Soldiers' is about a triangular love with a completely unexpected twist at the end. Luc and Jean are the major characters of the story. They are soldiers and spend their free time on Sundays away from the barracks, in the countryside. Their outing has taken on the character of a ritual. Every Sunday, they bring food to the same place in the woods and lie back to enjoy the food, wine, and sights of an area that reminds them of home.


Their ritual comes to take in a bit of innocent gazing of a young village girl who brings her cow to pasture and milks it every week at the same time. One Sunday, the girl talks to them on her way to the pasture. When she returns later, she offers them the cow’s milk and leaves them with a promise to meet the following Sunday.


The next weekend, Jean suggests that they should bring something for her. They buy candies as a suitable present. When the girl arrives, they don’t dare to give her the candies. Finally, Luc tells the girl that they have brought something for her. Jean hands the little paper bag to her.


As the weeks pass, the girl turns out to be the topic of conversation for two soldiers when they spend time at the barracks. The three become fast friends. They tell each other little incidents and details of their villages. The girl begins to eat their meal with them and appears to devote equal attention to them. Then, in an unexpected move, Luc seeks leave on a Tuesday, and again the following Thursday. He borrows money from one of the friends but offers no explanation for it.


The following Sunday the girl appears as she always does. When she is near them, Luc gets up and goes towards her. Then, she kisses him passionately. Jean is upset and heartbroken because he is left out and does not understand why the girl has suddenly turned all of her attention to Luc. He comes to know that why Luc had gone out twice during the week.


Luc and the girl go together to attend to the cow and disappear into the woods for a long time. Jean remains motionless and panicky. When they return, they kiss again. She doesn’t offer Jean any milk that day. Neither of the soldiers talks about the incident.


While returning to the barracks, they stop momentarily on the bridge over the Seine as usual. Jean leans over the railing. He falls into water. Luc can’t do anything. He watches in grief as his good friend drowns. He runs to the barracks with his eyes full of tears.

Understanding the text

Answer these questions.

a. Why do the two soldiers spend their free time on Sundays away from the barracks out in the countryside?
...
Answer:
The two soldiers spend their free time on Sundays away from the barracks out in the countryside because they have found a spot which reminds them of home, and they do not feel happy anywhere else.

b. Why does the girl become the topic of conversation for these soldiers?
...
Answer:
The girl becomes the topic of conversation for these soldiers because both of them fall in love with her.

c. Why does deception enter into their friendship?
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Answer:
Deception enters into their friendship because Luc starts actively courting her, unbeknownst to Jean.

d. Do you think that Luc is a betrayer of friendship?
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Answer:
Yes, I do. Luc starts to see the girl more in private. He borrows money from one of his friends and seeks leave, but doesn’t tell Jean anything.

e. What is the cause of suicide of Jean? Do you think that it was the only release of his love?
...
Answer:
Jean not only has lost the girl that he loves, but he has also lost a friendship which he had valued greatly. This makes him kill himself. He could express his feelings with others or talk to Luc and the girl, rather than committing suicide.

Reference to the context

a. What is the central theme of the story?

The theme of the story is the incompatibility of friendship and romantic love. Jean and Luc are best friends. They fall in love with the same girl. To win the girl one of them must betray the bond of friendship. It is impossible that one should become the girl’s lover and still maintain the same relationship with his fellow soldier that existed before the girl came into their lives.

b. "What are you doing here? Are you watching the grass grow?"

i. Who is the speaker?

ii. What does the word “here” indicate?

iii. Who does “you” refer to?

...
Answer:

i. The dairy maid is the speaker.

ii. "Here" means the place where the two soldiers visit every weekend.

iii. "You" refers to two soldiers.


c. "He leaned--he--he was leaning--so far over--that his head carried him away-- and--he--fell--he fell----"

i. Who is the speaker?

ii. Why is the speaker speaking with interruption?

iii. What does he mean when he says “he--fell--he fell---”?

...
Answer:

i. Luc is the speaker.

ii. The speaker is speaking with interruption becasue he is in pain and scared of the death of Jean.

iii. He means that Jean fell into the river.


d. Two Little Soldiers can be viewed as a series of dramatic scenes. Describe the story as tragedy.

Luc and Jean are two soldiers who habitually spend their free time on Sundays away from the barracks, in the countryside. They happen to see a young village girl who brings her cow to pasture and milks it every week at the same time. They are very close to each other. Every weekend, they spend time together. It becomes clear that Jean feels the same about the girl as Luc does. Luc prioritizes romantic possibilities over a close friendship. This causes Jean to make the drastic choice to end his own life. His decision to kill himself is a logical consequence of his realization that he will have neither friend nor lover. This tragedy depends on Luc's character flaw.

e. What is the setting and style of the story?

Two Little Soldiers is set in the French countryside. The scene is peaceful. Luc and Jean, who are soldiers stationed in barracks nearby, are present there on Sundays with meal and to enjoy the area, which reminds them of their home. Maupassant is careful not to show too much of barrack life. The beauty of the setting is enhanced by the presence of a dairy maid.


The most significant technique that Maupassant uses in the story is his manipulation of the point of view. Though the events of the story appear to be continuous, the point of view shifts as scenes change. Maupassant adopts the voice of an omniscient narrator. He tells the reader what both soldiers think and do, giving each equal attention, and provides simple and straightforward information about what the young girl feels or thinks in the first encounter. He relies on the viewpoint of one character, Jean when Luc decides to go on leave, and the two soldiers travel to the countryside for the last time. When the two soldiers return to the barracks, the scene is viewed through Luc’s eyes. The reader is denied knowledge of Jean’s feelings, and hence is given no explanation of his motivation for killing himself.

f. How would you describe the conflict between the friends?

In the story the conflict arises when the girl kisses Luc passionately, without paying attention to Jean, without even noticing that he is there. Jean is upset and heartbroken. At this point, Jean discovers the reason why Luc seeks leave and borrows money from Jean but offers no explanation for his behavior. Luc and the girl go to attend to the cow and disappear into the woods for a long time. When they return, the lovers kiss again, and the girl doesn’t offer him any milk that day. Eventually, the conflict between friendship and love leads to death of Jean. Luc remains in anguish as his good friend dies.

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