What is the climax of Guy de Maupassant's "A Piece of String"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Defining climax as the moment of highest emotional intensity in a plot when the outcome of the conflct is finally made clear to the reader, one may consider the sixth paragraph from the last as the climax:

He set about tellling his experience all over again, each day embroidering his recital, with each retelling adding new reasons, more vigorous protestations, more solemn vows that he dreamed up and repeated during his house alone, his whole mind occupied with the yarn.  He was believed less and less as his defense become more and more inticate and his explanations more and more involved.

The conflict is, of course, the fact that the townspeople and the authorities do not believe Maitre Hauchecorne's protestations that he merely picked up the piece of string rather than the stolen pocketbook. Thus, the outcome of the "struggle" between these opposing forces is that Hauchecorne is given no credibility.  This lack of respect for a person who is in a higher position in the society is too much for Hauchecorne to bear, and in the resolution he becomes insane even to his death:  "He...in his dying delirium, kept protesting his innocence, repeating, 'Just a bit of yarn....'"

This conflict and resolution support a theme of Maupassant, who wrote

Life,...is composed of the most dissimiliar things, the most unforeseen, the most ...incongruous; it is merciless...full of inexplicable, illogical, and contradictory catastrophes...