The primary message of Louis Hémon's novel Maria Chapdelaine may be summed up by a variation of an old saying: “The grass is not always greener on the other side.”
Maria Chapdelaine is a young French-Canadian woman who has worked hard with her family and lived a simple life. A visit to some relatives in town gives her a taste of something new, and after she returns she meets a young man named Francois Paradis. The two fall in love and secretly agree to marry. Then Francois goes off to the lumber camp. Unfortunately, he doesn't survive the harsh winter, and Maria is devastated.
There are, however, two more suitors waiting in the wings. One of them, Lorenzo Surprenant, has left French Canada for life in a Massachusetts city. He works in a factory and dazzles Maria with tales of all the wonderful things she can experience in the city that she would never find in the Canadian countryside. The other suitor, Eutrope Gagnon, is a quiet, steady man who freely admits that he can offer Maria only a variation of the life she already has. He wants to farm and raise a family right in their own community.
For a while, Maria leans toward accepting Lorenzo's proposal. She is intrigued by the idea of a different life, something new and exciting. She thinks that the grass will be greener on the other side, so to speak. But after her mother's death, Maria realizes that this isn't true. She reexamines her values and decides that the grass is not greener on the other side. She loves her family; she loves her home; and she decides that she loves Eutrope and will marry him.