Themes and Meanings

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

The gap between law and justice, the difficulty of establishing guilt beyond doubt, even the nature of guilt itself, are all questions raised by The Blue Room. Tony is not guilty of the murder of his wife—but he is not innocent either and does not feel himself to be so. “It was, after all, because of me that she died,” he says.

Simenon has said that he is not interested in men’s social selves but in man when he is totally naked. This novel contains a totally naked man who sees himself for the first time in the mirror held up to him by his captors. Yet the shape of the book also produces the feeling of inevitability. Tony is the victim of a woman who is herself a victim. The conversation at the beginning of the novel is the trigger for all the other events which follow. Or is it? Does this trigger occur earlier? The events were “determined from the first day. And that was not the day of Nicholas’ death nor the day of Gisele’s agony.” Simenon does not tell the reader which day began the inexorable march of the events which are chronicled in The Blue Room. The title suggests that the events of August 2 were crucial, but reflection indicates that this may be too simple an answer.