Themes and Meanings

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

The principal concerns of the novel are nicely emblematized by Giono’s division of himself into two parts near the end of the novel: “Come here,"who works in a bank, understands “dignified politeness and beautiful penmanship” and earns “thirty francs a month”; and “Blue Boy,” “the greater part,...[whom] the face on the wall, Decidement and Madame-la-Reine, Anne and the girl perfumed with musk” help to “escape to fair pastures.” In this juxtaposition between the bank clerk and the poet, between the blue of his bourgeois suit and that of the “great blue cyclone of liberty,” Giono establishes the major oppositions and motifs of the novel: the sterility, mediocrity, and vulgar sensuality of modern civilization against the fertility, vitality, and sensuousness of the natural, pastoral world; business, science, and technology against hope, love, and art; the prison of reason against the freedom of imagination.

Clearly, Jean Giono took the lessons of his father, Decidement, Madame-la-Reine, the dark man, and Franchesc Odripano to heart; his art and his life became a crusade against suffering, sterility, and death. He strove valiantly to transform the “stench” of the human condition into “the pure and somber beloved” as Bach had done; to prevent men from killing their hearts because it had become “too difficult to live with them”; to provide men with hope by giving them a vision of a living, vital pastoral world where the...

(The entire section is 482 words.)