Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 651
Antonio (Tony) Falcone
Antonio (Tony) Falcone (fahl-KOHN), a thirty-three-year-old man who is arrested and tried for poisoning his wife, Gisèle. As three officials question him, he reveals the relevant facts of his life. He is proud to have established his own business selling and repairing agricultural equipment. A devoted family man, he appreciates his wife’s homemaking, takes his daughter to church on Sundays, visits his aged father regularly, and vacations with his family at the seaside. Tony also takes advantage of sexual opportunities. To him and the women involved, these encounters are isolated incidents that entail no obligations. He maintains this attitude during his passionate affair with Andrée Despierre. She, however, is determined to marry Tony, even though he wants to end their relationship. Andrée murders her husband and Tony’s wife, and both she and Tony are sent to prison for life.
Andrée Formier Despierre
Andrée Formier Despierre (ahn-DRAY fohr-MYAY day-PYEHR), the daughter of a local hero, Dr. Formier. She lives with her mother in the chateau in Saint Justin. They are proud provincial bourgeoises who have fallen on hard times; it is obvious that she marries Nicholas Despierre for money. Andrée is a tall, attractive woman, with dark hair that contrasts with her white, translucent complexion. Revealing her sexual aggressiveness, she initiates an affair with Tony Falcone. During their eight meetings at the Hôtel des Voyageurs in the blue room, she expresses intense sexuality and possessiveness. She wants Tony to leave his wife and marry her. After Tony makes it clear that their affair has ended, she sends notes reminding him of their relationship. Driven by passion, she poisons both Nicholas and Tony’s wife, Gisèle. She is arrested for the first murder, but Tony is arrested for his wife’s death. At his trial, she brazenly states that his passion for her is as strong as hers is for him, and that he intended to get rid of Gisèle in order to marry her. She is triumphant when the jury sentences both of them to life imprisonment: She interprets the sentence as their means of remaining together forever.
Madame Despierre, the most respected and wealthiest citizen of Saint Justin. A mean-spirited woman who always dresses in gray, she spends most of her time working in a grocery store, one of her many properties. She grudgingly retires, however, when Andrée, her son Nicholas’ wife, comes to work at the store. She reveals the depths of her malicious nature during Tony Falcone’s trial for the murder of his wife. Although he is innocent of poisoning her, Madame Despierre tells the court that only Tony had the opportunity to put strychnine into the jar of plum jam. She lies because she wants both the guilty Andrée and the innocent Tony to be punished for her son’s death.
Gisèle Falcone (zhee-ZEHL), Tony’s wife, a small, quiet, and shy woman. After she marries Tony in Poitiers and moves with him to his village of Saint Justin, she contentedly keeps house and helps with his accounts and bookkeeping. Tony appreciates her devotion and at times feels a profound tenderness toward her that he cannot express. Although the villagers do not know her well, they recognize her kindness and are incensed when they find out that she has been murdered.
Françoise (frahn-SWAHZ), a sturdy peasant woman about thirty years old who has worked in cafés and hotels from the age of fifteen. While employed at Vincente Falcone’s Hôtel des Voyageurs, she reveals her bold and adventurous character by challenging Tony to have sexual intercourse with her. Afterward, their relationship reverts to what it had been originally. This incident typifies the sort of sexual relationships Tony has with many other women and contrasts with his liaison with Andrée.
Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 430
In itself, calling Andree and Tony lovers begs one of the major questions raised by The Blue Room. Tony finds Andree sexually exciting, but he does not love her; she is obsessed by him. Georges Simenon carefully and unobtrusively puts in the details which help the reader to comprehend Andree: the poverty; the gangling adolescent who watches the handsome boy choose other partners; the prudent marriage to the rich, sickly Nicholas; the possessive mother-in-law and her festering resentment. All the pieces are there. The reader, like Simenon’s most famous creation, Inspector Maigret, can understand the growth of a personality capable of these crimes.
Tony is a picture of incomprehension. The interrogations clarify events for him as well as for the reader. He is largely incapable of analysis and his self-awareness is neither intellectual nor verbal. “Were there really people whose lives were devoted to self-examination, to gazing at themselves in a mirror, as it were?” he asks himself. What Tony actually says, therefore, is not as meaningful as what is left unsaid. “The words were without substance.” Andree, who hears what he says at the hotel, but only interprets it according to what she wants to hear, acts upon his words and destroys everything he values. “You know very well you said yourself....” she argues.
Tony’s wife, Gisele, is a silent, pathetic figure, afraid to complain of her husband’s philandering, terrified of losing him, isolated in the village to which she does not belong. Her husband no longer finds her attractive, but he loves his home and his daughter, and therefore also his wife. He loves the routine which Gisele, a true housewife, carefully maintains. Yet Tony and Gisele can only guess—wrongly—at each others’ thoughts and feelings because the relationship has no words. Both afraid, each endures alone.
Because Tony is himself so limited, Simenon is able to surprise the reader with the importance of minor characters who lie outside Tony’s awareness. Madame Despierre, for example, is the author of the letter which produces the police investigation. Her perjury convicts an innocent man.
The fact that Tony is himself finding out the truth as his questioners ask him things that he has never asked himself makes for both interest and limitation: interest in the discovery, limitation because he is passive and cannot offer information for which he has not been asked. Much of the technical interest of the book lies in Simenon’s ability to draw a picture in words of a man who cannot verbalize his thoughts, who can, in fact, hardly think.
Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 34
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Bresler, Fenton S. The Mystery of Georges Simenon: A Biography, 1983.
Mauriac, Claude. “Georges Simenon,” in The New Literature, 1959.
Narcejac, Thomas. The Art of Simenon, 1952.
Raymond, John. Simenon in Court, 1968.