Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Ambricourt. (ahm-breh-kohrt). French parish located on a hillside whose priest sees its miserable little insignificant houses huddled together as a symptom of Christianity in decay. Like the village, the lives of its people seem consumed by boredom. He unfavorably contrasts the place where he will live out his vocation with a Carthusian cloister, where monks create an island of order in the midst of a sea of chaos. His parish is poor, but its poverty is not evangelical, unlike the poverty of Jesus Christ, and the few wealthy parishioners conceal their greed beneath a facade of false humanism, and so their wealth never manifests its full cruelty.

Parish church

Parish church. Like the village, the parish church and the priest’s lodging are coarse and poor. He needs to pay a boy to fetch water for him since he has no well, and his food consists mainly of bread and inferior wine. The church, with its broken windowpanes, is where the priest says mass and encounters the broken lives of his parishioners. The church school, where he catechizes the parish’s children, becomes another place of alienation since his young charges are either bored or cruel. Despite his sufferings in dealing with all his parishioners, he sees his parish as part of the everlasting presence of Christ in the world. Like all human communities, Ambricourt is caught in the great spiritual river sweeping all souls into the deep ocean of eternity.


Château. Estate of a count and countess where the central struggle of the novel...

(The entire section is 652 words.)