How singular life is and how full of changes! How small a thing will ruin or save one! Analyze this statement with reference to the short story "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant.

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Losing the necklace saved Mathilde and her husband. Before this she was spoiled and her husband tried to give her what she asked for. She had no appreciation for anything other than materialistic things. Having to spend so many years working on paying back the money, she came to appreciate setting goals and working to achieve them, and she valued and had pride in herself.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Characteristically, Guy de Maupassant plays ironically upon the words singular and small in these lines, for one of his major concerns in his writing is the pettiness of the bourgeoisie of his native Normandy as in "The Necklace" and "The Piece of String."  For, it is the singular (as in particular to her, and odd) pettiness (smallness) of Mme. Loisel which becomes her nemesis.  Were Madame Loisel content to go without a necklace to the party, the night could not have taken the turn that it has.  If she were forthright in admitting to her friend that she has lost the necklance, Mathilde Loisel could not suffer as she has. 

That Mme. Loisel is tragic in her defiant pettiness is evidenced in her encounter with her old school friend in the denouement of the story.  For, with her characteristic pettiness, she announces to Mme Forestier how much she has sacrificed and suffered

"plenty of misfortunes--and all on account of you!"

And, with a perverse pride, also, she announces that she has paid Mme. Forestier back without her noticing that the necklace was different.  And, here the singular irony presents itself to Mme. Loisel because of her pettiness:

"But mine was only paste."

Indeed, "how small a thing--pettiness and a paste necklace--can ruin one.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is a great quote to use with this short story.  It is such a series of small things which change the fate of both the Loisels--all simple things which would and could have changed their fates.

  1. If she hadn't had such a desire to move up into the social world, she would not have gone to the party.
  2. If she had been content to wear the flowers her husband thought were a lovely adornment, she would neither have borrowed nor lost the necklace.
  3. If she had paid more attention to the necklace (how relatively carelessly it was stored and loaned), she would have known it was not the real thing.
  4. If she hadn't been so reckless at the party, she may not have lost the necklace.
  5. If she had swallowed her pride and explained the truth to her friend, she would not have had to become a virtual slave to the loan sharks.

In short, if her pride, from beginning to end had not been so grand, any one of these little things would have saved her from a life of drudgery and misery.  The only redeeming thing, in the end, is that she is undoubtedly a better person for having experienced what she did.

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nahlanahla3 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

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This statement reflects to a large extent the character of Mme Loisel. She is a self-centred character. She cares only of what makes her happy regardless of the happiness of others. This appears in how she enforces her husband to get rid of his ambition in buying a gun and enjoys himself with his friends in shooting to buy her a ball gown just to pretend that they are of a high class society which is, as we all know, opposing reality. in the end all her ambitions change her life to the worst. She suffered for ten years to pay back the debts which she borrowed to buy a genuine diamond  necklace for a false. Hence, fate redicules her ignorance, selfishness, egoism and makes her pay for all her flaws. 

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rosemary08151956 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

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You have 1 life to live.  Careless choices result in less than desired results to live with for a lifetime.  Life is never at a standstill; 1 small choice can positively resolve a lifetime of problems with careful consideration.

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