Suzanne Simonin is one of the three daughters of M. and Mme Simonin; throughout her childhood and adolescence, her parents prefer her sisters although Suzanne is superior to them in every respect. When it is time for marriages to be arranged for the sisters, Suzanne is preferred by the suitors. However, when she tells her mother of the attention paid to her, she is sent off to a convent.
At first, Suzanne thinks that she is to remain in the convent just until her two sisters are married. Then, Father Séraphin visits her and explains that her parents have decided that she will become a nun. Suzanne objects but is convinced by the mother superior to begin her novitiate. During this time, Suzanne is very well treated, but on her second day she sees an apparently insane nun who has been confined in chains. Suzanne is terrified and sees the poor woman as a warning of what may happen to her. Suzanne informs the mother superior of her decision not to continue her preparation for the convent. Her parents are informed of her decision. She is locked in her cell in isolation, after which she is continuously visited by the priest and nuns, who harangue her to change her mind.
Eventually, Suzanne decides that she will become a nun. However, her reason for doing so is to give her the opportunity to refuse her vows publicly. During her profession of faith, she answers “no” to all of the priest’s questions. She istaken home and locked in a room for six months. Finally, having received permission from her mother to reveal the truth, Father Séraphin tells Suzanne that she is not M. Simenon’s daughter, that she is illegitimate. He insists that she must take the veil to expiate her mother’s sin. He also tells her that she must not reveal the truth in public, because to do so would eliminate her right to inherit the family fortune.
Suzanne’s mother agrees to speak with her. Suzanne attempts to convince her to try to find someone who will marry her without a dowry or to allow Suzanne legally to renounce her inheritance. Her mother refuses, stating that Suzanne’s public refusal of her vows created such a scandal that there is no possibility of marriage for her and that children cannot disinherit themselves. Her mother then insists that the only way she...
(The entire section is 931 words.)