Anger against these men quietly sitting there rose up within him. If their pockets were rummaged, gold, silver, and coppers would be found in them. On an average each one must have at least forty francs. There were certainly a hundred to a cafe: a hundred times forty francs makes four thousand francs. He murmured: “Swine!” as he walked nonchalantly past them. If he could get hold of one of them at a nice dark corner he would twist his neck without scruple.
Georges Duroy is a scoundrel. As a minor French cavalry NCO in North Africa, he used to rob and murder local peasants, when the opportunity presented itself, and laugh about it later. Now he is in Paris on the make. He is envious, unscrupulous and low on money despite his job as a clerk. By chance, he runs into a man from his regiment who is now prospering as a journalist. He tags along with him to have a drink after the journalist visits his office, and is offered a job and some money to buy a proper suit.
He did not know how to make her understand that he would be happy, most happy, to become her husband in his turn. He certainly could not tell her that, now, at this moment, in this place, in the presence of this corpse; nevertheless he could, he believed, find one of those ambiguous, acceptable, complicated statements whose words have hidden significance, and which can, by their calculated reservations, express everything you intend.
Duroy is now a social climber and has made a habit of using women of higher social standing to boost his career. In this paragraph, we see that he has learned how to adapt to upper-middle-class society by following its social conventions in order to blend in and better himself. The target woman's husband has just died so he cannot be boorish and just blurt out what he is thinking. Duroy is shrewd enough to make the most of every opportunity, even when it means betraying those that helped him in the past. Lacking any sense of honor, gratitude or scruple, he is unsatisfied with his rise to middle-class status. After a successful marriage upward he begins to sign himself...
(The entire section contains 581 words.)
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- Critical Essays