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Death on the Installment Plan is a 1936 French novel by Louis-Ferdinand Céline, about a doctor named Ferdinand who is struggling financially because his patients take advantage of his generosity.
Ferdinand's Uncle Édouard is a generous figure in his life. He is supportive of Ferdinand and helps him when he cannot pay for education and helps him find a job. He is vital to the family's well-being and desires the best for everyone, doing as much as he can throughout the book to keep his family safe and happy.
As Ferdinand's father is abusive and his mother is submissive and mentally fragile, Uncle Édouard acts as a mentor and father figure to Ferdinand, allowing him the semblance of a stable family and emotional support. Throughout the book, Uncle Édouard appears at times of stress to mediate or calm the situation, and helps Ferdinand as much as possible. When Ferdinand's grandmother dies,
Uncle Édouard attended to everything all by himself . . . he had made all the arrangements . . . He had his grief too . . . He didn't show it . . . He wasn't demonstrative. [sic: ellipses]
(Céline, Death on the Installment Plan, Google Books)
Although Uncle Édouard is grief-stricken over the loss of his mother, he recognizes that someone has to take control and tend to the matters at hand. He will take time to grieve later, but for now, there are arrangements to be made and he knows that the other family members will not attend to them.
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