Maitre Hauchecorne is the protagonist while M. Malandain, the harness maker, is the antagonist in Guy de Maupassant’s short story, “A Piece of String.”
Maitre Hauchecorne is a rheumatic peasant who exhibits extremely frugal qualities. He tends to hoard anything that he finds if he feels that it has a chance of being useful. This includes the piece of string that he picks up in the town square on market day. It takes great effort for him to pick up the string due to his sickly nature but still he does it under the watchful eye of his adversary M. Malandain. The two men have ill feelings based on a failed business deal. M. Malandain spreads a rumor that Maitre Hauchecorne picked up a billet filled with papers and money that was reported missing. M. Malandain saw Hauchecorne pick up a piece of string and theatrically hide it in his clothes. Maitre Hauchecorne attempts to save his reputation after someone other than himself returns the billet. He is so desperate to make the community see his innocence that he makes himself sick and dies. M. Malandain, on the other hand, never recants his story but perpetuates the story of Maitre Hauchecorne’s guilt.