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Literature / Simon's Papa

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"Simon's Papa" is a short story written by French author Guy de Maupassant. It was originally published in 1879.

Simon, the shy, quiet son of local woman La Blanchotte, falls afoul of the other boys' cruelty because he doesn't have a father. Soon he meets the local blacksmith, Phillip Remy, who agrees to be his "father".

This story includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Adult Fear: La Blanchotte has to deal with the community's disdain for her negatively affecting her son, to the point that he might have committed suicide. She blushes and starts crying when Simon tells her.
  • Cry into Chest: Simon's mother hugs him as he starts to cry again after confessing his suicide attempt.
  • Defiled Forever: Played With. The ladies of the village disdain La Blanchotte for having become pregnant with Simon outside of marriage, which causes the plot because their sons catch their condescension without understanding it. However, near the end of the story, one of the blacksmiths speaking with Philipe (said to speak for them all) comments that La Blanchotte would make a worthy wife if a man were inclined to propose, and claims to know others considered respectable who sinned the same way but got married with their lovers. In any case, it doesn't dissuade Phillip.
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  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Le Blanchotte acts aloof towards Phillip when he first brings Simon home, which the narration attributes to her having been hurt by Simon's biological father. Over time, he walks by a little more, and thinks she seems a little rosier when he's there, though the narrator muddies the waters by noting that Phillip could have been flattering himself. She certainly agrees quickly enough when he turns up to propose to her, though no one ever clarifies whether it's due to love or social benefits (or both).
  • Driven to Suicide: Simon goes to the river after the other boys beat him, intending to drown himself like a beggar he remembers seeing. Thankfully, various things interrupt him before he can.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Simon goes to the river intending to drown himself, but he gets distracted by various creatures. However, the thought recurs, and he tries to say a prayer beforehand. However, he can't finish for sobbing. Luckily, his grief attracts the attention of the local blacksmith, Phillip Remy, who takes him home to his mother.
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  • Kids Are Cruel: The other boys mock Simon about not having a father, ultimately beating him and taunting him to tell his nonexistent father about it. Guy de Maupassant compares it to a group of chickens killing one of their own that has been wounded. They continue mocking him after he "adopts" Phillip as a replacement. However, Phillip proposing to Simon's mother and taking Simon under his protection silences the taunting.
  • Marry the Nanny: Simon's problems with the other boys and adoption of Phillip as a father figure introduce the blacksmith to his mother, and they end up engaged by the end of the story.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: The bullies accidentally create the happy ending of the story by telling Simon that Phillip isn't his father because he isn't married to his mother. When Simon repeats this to Phillip, it ultimately leads to the blacksmith proposing marriage to La Blanchotte, shutting the boys up once and for all.
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