The Necklace Questions and Answers
by Guy de Maupassant

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Compare Mathilda's life before and after the fateful dinner?

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Before the fateful night of the fancy party, Mathilde Loisel's life is actually pretty good, though she doesn't know it and is not exactly grateful for what she has. She is "pretty and charming," and married to a good man with a good job, but she is not satisfied. She "suffer[s] ceaselessly" because she feels that she was "born for all the delicacies and all the luxuries" that she cannot afford. Another woman, the narrator tells us, would not even have been conscious of the deficiencies Mathilde sees in her home, her possessions, and so on. She actually has a "little Breton peasant who did her humble housework," though the sight of the girl also makes Mathilde feel badly because she cannot afford better. Her husband is happy with her, happy with their food and their lives, but "she loved nothing" but dresses and jewels which she could not buy.

After the fateful party, Mathilde learns what hardship really is. In order to pay for the lost necklace, the couple had to dismiss their servant and even change lodgings. Mathilde "came to know what heavy housework meant and the odious cares of the kitchen." She grows old quickly, and she and her husband work themselves to the bone, day and night. She has changed so much in ten years that not even her friend who had loaned her the necklace recognizes her anymore. "She had become the woman of impoverished households— strong and hard and rough." Mathilde learns that her suffering was little before, back before the party, and it is much greater now. We can only imagine her response when her friend informed her that the necklace had not even been made of real diamonds!

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