The Jewelry (or The False Gems)

by Guy de Maupassant

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Student Question

In "The Jewels," what does Mr. Lantin realize about his wife's "fake" jewelry?

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In this darkly humorous tale Monsieur Lantin, after the death of his seemingly devoted and loving wife, discovers that appearances can be very deceiving and that you cannot judge a book by its cover. Reduced into penury following the death of his wife, Monsieur Lantin decides to sell some of his wife's fake jewellery to gain some extra money. It is when he takes a large necklace to a shop that he finds out the truth:

Monsieur Lantin, embarrassed by all this ritual, was opening his mouth to say: "Oh, I know perfectly well that it isn't worth anything," when the jeweller said: "Monsiuer, this necklace is worth between twelve and fifteen thousand francs; but I couldn't buy it unless you told me where it came from."

Clearly, the jeweller suspects him of having robbed the necklace. It is when he takes it to another jeweller to be valued that the truth is made clear. As Monsiuer Lantin wanders away completely shocked at the value of the necklace, he asks himself:

He tried to think it out, to understand. His wife couldn't have afforded to buy something so valuable - that was certain. But in that case it was a present! A present! But a present from whom? And why was it given her?

What is never actually stated but is strongly hinted at is that these "presents" were from a wealthy lover - Madame Lantin had been having an affair with a wealthy gentleman, who had given her these jewels as a gift.

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