What is the symbolism of Guy de Maupassant's "Two Friends"?

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mwestwood's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #2)

In the first part of the story,"Two Friends," Maupassant describes how the two men often meet each other and sit side by side with their feet dangling over the side of the embankment as they fish, content in each other's company and in the joy of what they do. Later on in the year, 

In the autumn, toward the close of day, when the setting sun shed a blood-red glow over the western sky, and the reflection of the crimson clouds tinged the whole river with red....

they would remark upon the beauty of nature. This red imagery, especially the "blood-red glow," is symbolic of what becomes of the two friends after they are captured by the Prussians. For, as they fall, murdered, into the water, "A few streaks of blood flecked the surface of the river."

Other symbols are the fishing rods belonging to the friends, rods that fall into the water:

The rods slipped from their owners' grasp and floated away down the river.

These rods represent what eventually happens to the two friends: They are shot and their bodies fall into the river, as well, cast out as though they are as insignificant as two fishing rods, lost and not to be retrieved.  

mrsbwheeler's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #1)

Well, there are a few different symbols in "Two Friends."  One is the rumbling in the background from the cannon's firing, which is also Mount Valerien erupting. This continuous "eruption" helps to build the rising action and symbolizes the doom that is ahead (foreshadowing).  In addition, the fish that is caught by the two friends and then essentially becomes similar to their own fate is also symbolic. The two men end up floating dead in the water while the Prussian soldiers consume the fish that kept and brought the two friends together in the first place. A bit ironic.

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