Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Indiana, an intricately plotted novel, brought Sand instant fame. The touching innocence of Indiana and her maid, the creole Noun, both from French Louisiana, is partly explained by their roots in the United States, a country of which Sand had only vague notions, but of which she wrote with enthusiasm.
When readers first meet Indiana, now in France, she is married to a tyrannical old brute, the retired Colonel Delmare, whom she met in America. Their permanent guest is Indiana’s cousin and childhood sweetheart, Sir Ralph. The situation offers Sir Ralph no scope for action other than small gestures to soften Indiana’s fate, unobtrusively calm her husband, and deflect any dangers that threaten. Indiana regards Sir Ralph as merely insipid and her fate as hopeless.
Wishing to shake his wife from her doldrums and hypochondria, Delmare brings her, at the height of the social season, from rural France to the sophisticated social circles of Paris. Sand makes full use of the contrast of scene. The flower from the wilderness, of course, attracts the attention of the most successful dandy of the moment, Raymon de Ramière. Sir Ralph, who has accompanied the Delmares like a shadow, senses the danger. What few know is that Raymon is already intimately connected to the Delmare household through his torrid affair with the beautiful creole, Noun. When Noun discovers that her rival is her beloved mistress, she commits suicide.
(The entire section is 510 words.)
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Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Indiana is married to pompous, quick-tempered Monsieur Delmare, a retired army officer no longer young. Loyal to her suspicious and jealous husband, Indiana lives a discontented, uneventful life. Her cousin, Sir Ralph Brown, himself unhappy and frustrated, is her only companion. Although Delmare keeps a watchful eye over the young couple, there is nothing improper in the relationship between them. As a matter of fact, Sir Ralph secures the good graces of Delmare, and he is accepted as one of the household. If not an intimate friend, he is at least a close companion. Indiana is as reserved in her behavior toward Sir Ralph as she is toward her husband, but to a close observer it is apparent that in a friendly, inarticulate manner, Sir Ralph is fond of Indiana.
The submerged tensions of the household erupt one night when someone is discovered scaling the garden wall and entering the grounds of the estate. Delmare rushes out and fires in the darkness at the intruder. When the wounded prowler is brought into the house, he reveals himself as Raymon de Ramière, a young man who, he maintains, wishes to see Delmare regarding his manufacturing enterprise. De Ramière further explains that his brother has a similar business in another part of the country, and that he will profit from Delmare’s information.
Delmare’s suspicions dissolve. He did not notice the behavior of Noun, Indiana’s friend and maid. Noun became extremely agitated at the entrance of de Ramière, a fact that nobody noticed in the excitement. She knows that de Ramière came to the estate not to see Delmare on business but to keep a rendezvous with her. Noun has been his mistress for some time. Once in the house, however, he is immediately attracted to Indiana, especially because he is already tiring of Noun.
De Ramière systematically begins his suit for Indiana’s affections, and to that end, he enlists the aid of both his...
(The entire section is 787 words.)