*Goutte d’Or (goot dor). Neighborhood north of Paris, on the eastern side of Montmartre, a butte on Paris’s northern perimeter that is the center of most of the novel’s action. The Goutte d’Or is now part of the city of Paris, but during the period in which the novel takes place, it was far from the center of metropolitan life. However, now, as then, the Goutte d’Or is a dangerous, crime-ridden slum.
Several places within the Goutte d’Or district are crucial to Gervaise’s frustrated will to improve her lot. Her moral decadence is represented by the very places she inhabits. When she and her family arrive at Goutte d’Or, they live in the Hôtel Boncoeur (whose name means “good heart”). Later, they move to a huge tenement building, in which Gervaise lives in a number of abodes—winding up, most miserably, in a hovel under the stairs.
Other important stages along Gervaise’s way in the Goutte d’Or are symbolized by a sleazy tavern and a smelly, dirty, and crowded apartment building.
*Paris. Seen from the Goutte d’Or, metropolitan Paris stands at a distance, its lights and glamour mocking the lives of the poor of the Goutte d’Or. However, beneath both the Goutte d’Or and the city beyond is the gray, oppressive horizon. After Gervaise marries her second husband, a roofer named Coupeau, they and their wedding guests go on an excursion to the...
(The entire section is 465 words.)