illustrated portrait of French author Guy de Maupassant

Guy de Maupassant

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What is the moral of "The Beggar" by Guy De Maupassant?

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Maupassant's short story "The Beggar" illustrates that man is alone and helpless against the hardships of life.

An old Russian proverb reads "Man is a wolf to man." This holds true in Maupassant's story. While the denizens of the villages where "Bell" begs give to him for a while, perhaps out of a sense of Christian obligation, they soon grow weary of him.

And when the peasants, tired of constantly meeting him in their fields or along their lanes, exclaimed: "Why don't you go to other villages instead of always limping about here?" he did not answer, but slunk away, possessed with a vague dread of the unknown....

Poor, crippled "Bell" has no refuge, no shelter, no source of aid whatsoever. When the villagers stop helping him, he starves. Finally, after dragging himself to a different village and being repelled by its citizens, Bell goes into the country. In a ditch where the starving and depleted Bell collapses, he watches the chickens of the nearby farmyard. Finally, without the idea of committing a theft, the desperate thought occurs to him that he could kill one of the fowl and have a meal, so he tosses a rock and hits one in the head. Before he can crawl to it, he is attacked by the farmer and beaten. Shortly thereafter, the police, of whom Bell has always had a dread, arrive and drag the pitiful man to jail.

Mercilessly, the police toss Bell, bleeding and starved, into jail. Evening comes, then night, and still no one has thought to feed the poor beggar. When the police do come in the morning to examine him, they find him dead. Unthinkingly they are "astonished." Bell has certainly been forsaken by his fellow man as he is left alone and helpless with no one concerned about his condition.

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