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What would have happened if Mathilde Loisel hadn't lost the necklace in "The Necklace"?

Summary:

If Mathilde Loisel hadn't lost the necklace in "The Necklace," she would have avoided years of hardship and poverty. She and her husband would not have spent a decade repaying the debt incurred to replace the necklace, and Mathilde's life would have continued without the dramatic change in her social and financial status.

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What would happen if Mme. Loisel didn't lose the necklace in "The Necklace"?

In Guy de Maupassant's short story "The Necklace," Mathilde Loisel is depicted as an extremely superficial, materialistic woman, who refuses to attend the formal ball unless she can wear an attractive dress with expensive jewelry. Mathilde Loisel ends up borrowing Madame Forestier's "diamond" necklace but loses it immediately after the ball. Mathilde and her husband were under the impression that the diamond necklace was authentic and accumulate a large amount of debt replacing the lost piece of jewelry with a genuine diamond necklace. Mathilde and her husband struggle for ten years to pay off their debts, only to discover that the lost necklace was a cheap imitation.

If Mathilde Loisel would have never lost Madame Forestier's necklace, she would have never accumulated a significant amount of debt or experienced poverty for ten years. The ten years of arduous physical labor took a toll on her appearance and hardened Mathilde into a rough, strong woman. If she never had to engage in physical labor to make ends meet, Mathilde would have maintained her attractive appearance. Although Mathilde's life took a turn for the worse after losing the necklace, one could argue that she would have been just as miserable and unhappy if she had never lost the necklace. Mathilde's entitled, ungrateful personality would have prevented her from appreciating her social status and ordinary life. Mathilde would have continued to resent marrying her husband and constantly dream of enjoying an aristocratic lifestyle. She would have continued to lament her situation and never experienced a content, fulfilled life.

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What would happen if Mme. Loisel didn't lose the necklace in "The Necklace"?

In Guy de Maupassant’s story "The Necklace," had Madame Loisel not lost Madame Forestier’s expensive necklace, her personality and life probably would not have changed very much from the beginning of the story. She would have continued to be unsatisfied and wish for a more luxurious life. She would have lived miserably instead of appreciating what she had.

Mathilde Loisel is described as "pretty and charming" from the start. She believes she deserves to marry into wealth, deserving luxury and attention from all. When she realizes she does not have the opportunity to make herself known to the upper classes, she settles on marrying a simple clerk.

From the beginning of their marriage, Mathilde looks down on every part of their lives. She is unhappy to live with little money. She scorns their sparsely decorated house, instead imagining an exquisite mansion. The simple dinners they eat are replaced in her mind by elegant meals. She grieves not having beautiful clothes and jewels, continuing to believe that she deserves attention.

When she gets the opportunity to be beautiful and to attract attention at the ball, Mathilde transforms into the woman she believes she deserves to be:

the prettiest woman present, elegant, graceful, smiling … quite above herself with happiness.

Mathilde is satisfied that the men at the ball stare at her beauty and wish to dance with her. This is her one chance to be the woman she always longed to be.

However, this feeling is short-lived; once the ball is over and she discovers she has lost the necklace, life changes drastically. In order to pay off the debts they incur to purchase a replacement necklace, the Loisels live a "ghastly life of abject poverty." Mathilde is forced to learn manual labor to do housework, and her appearance is altered into that of an old woman. She understands that they must pay off the debt, and "she played her part heroically."

These ten years of hard work are brought on by the loss of the necklace. She still dreams of that ball and how wonderful she felt with everyone’s eyes on her. Yet, she is proud for having paid off the debt, and she wants Jeanne to know the truth about her necklace. There is a humility about Mathilde that was not present when she belittled the simple life her husband gave her. Nothing in her earlier personality indicated that she would come to accept her life; it is only now that she has learned the value of money and hard work that Mathilde is able to appreciate life. Had she not lost the necklace, she most likely would have remained beautiful and continued to act selfishly, vainly believing she deserved more than she had in life.

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What would happen if Mme. Loisel didn't lose the necklace in "The Necklace"?

If Mathilde Loisel did not lose the necklace nothing would have changed for her.  She would have gone on being poor and miserable, longing for more.

Mathilde feels like she should be rich, even though she was born into a poor family and married a poor man.

She had no gowns, no jewels, nothing. And she loved nothing but that. She felt made for that. She would have liked so much to please, to be envied, to be charming, to be sought after. (p. 1)

Mathilde thinks of nothing but the material.  Although she has a loving husband and a comfortable life, she is not satisfied.  She wants more.  It is because she wants more that she borrows the necklace from her friend to go to the ball.

Mathilde has a good time at the ball, but like Cinderella, she has to go back to reality sometime.  When she leaves the ball, she symbolically returns to the life of poverty she has always known.

He threw over her shoulders the wraps he had brought, the modest wraps of common life, the poverty of which contrasted with the elegance of the ball dress. (p. 4)

If she had not lost the necklace, she would have returned it and continued in her relatively comfortable life.  She would have remained beautiful for years afterward.  She might even have found out that the jewel was a fake when she returned it.  Yet because she lost the necklace, she lost everything else too.  Her husband, her beauty, and her friendship all diminished from her greed.

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What if Mathilde Loisel hadn't lost the necklace in "The Necklace"?

After Mathilde Loisel loses Madame Forestier's "diamond necklace," she and her husband acquire an outstanding amount of debt in order to purchase an authentic replacement and struggle for ten years to pay off their debts. Over the course of ten years, Mathilde dramatically transforms into a strong, resolute woman, who understands the difficulty of hard labor and is no longer consumed with dreams of becoming a member of the upper class.

Mathilde is too busy working to daydream about a luxurious life or complain about her current situation. In addition to her new perspective and impressive work habits, Mathilde's appearance also changes, and she is no longer the attractive, youthful woman she once was. After Mathilde and her husband manage to pay off their debts, she runs into Madame Forestier and discovers that the lost necklace was simply a cheap imitation.

One could make the argument that Mathilde would have never developed a strong work ethic and transformed into a resolute, tough woman if she had never lost Madame Forestier's necklace. However, Mathilde would have continued to suffer and complain about her situation and social status. Before losing the necklace, Mathilde was an entitled, selfish woman who resented marrying a lowly clerk and continually dreamt of becoming a member of the social elite.

Mathilde's ungrateful personality would have remained the same, and she would have continued to lament her living situation. She would have also maintained her attractive appearance, and her friendship with Madame Forestier would have been significantly healthier.

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What if Mathilde Loisel hadn't lost the necklace in "The Necklace"?

If Mathilde Loisel would not have lost the necklace, I believe she would have continued to be unhappy for the rest of her life. As a result of her losing the necklace and the need to replace it, the Loisels incur a terrifyingly large debt, a debt it will take a decade of reduced circumstances and hard work to pay. As the narrator says,

Mme. Loisel now knew the horrible existence of the needy. She took her part, moreover, all of a sudden, with heroism. That dreadful debt must be paid. She would pay it.

This evident "heroism"—this fortitude and resolve—would never have been created within her were it not for the circumstances created by the loss of the necklace. Without that event, Mme. Loisel would likely have gone back to her normal, unsatisfying life with the "little Breton peasant" and "ugly" curtains and three-day-old tablecloths and continued to feel that she is the victim of misfortune.

However, there seems to be something about losing the necklace that calls up her agency, that makes her stop obsessing over what she doesn't have. She stops dreaming about "delicious dishes served on marvellous plates" and "long salons fitted up with ancient silk." For once, she stops thinking of herself as a victim of destiny, and she accepts her responsibility and role. In the end, when she confronts Mme. Forestier, the friend who had loaned her the necklace, Mme. Loisel seems almost proud of what she has accomplished. She tells her friend that they've spent ten years paying for the necklace she returned, saying, "At last it is ended, and I am very glad." She even "smiled with a joy which was proud and naive." Such a development of her character would not have been possible without her losing the necklace.

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What if Mathilde Loisel hadn't lost the necklace in "The Necklace"?

Mathilde Loisel would not have had many opportunities to play Cinderella at the ball. She was not the promiscuous type, like the wife of Monsieur Lantin in Maupassant's story titled "The Jewels," or "The False Gems." Mathilde is obviously a dreamer. She would go back to her normal humdrum existence and continue to fantasize about 

...silent antechambers, heavy with Oriental tapestries, lit by torches in lofty bronze sockets, with two tall footmen in knee-breeches sleeping in large arm-chairs, overcome by the heavy warmth of the stove. She imagined vast saloons hung with antique silks, exquisite pieces of furniture supporting priceless ornaments, and small, charming, perfumed rooms, created just for little parties of intimate friends, men who were famous and sought after, whose homage roused every other woman's envious longings.

Feminine beauty and charm has evolved for the purpose of reproduction. Women have to attract men in order to have babies, and they reproduce successfully if they can hold men while their offspring are growing to adulthood. Mathilde would undoubtedly have gotten pregnant. That's generally what happens when women get married. Then her interests would probably have centered on her children, and the "silent antechambers, heavy with Oriental tapestries" and the rest of it would have vanished like dreams. Her misfortune was that she had not been able to marry a man who would have been able to provide more of the luxuries she had read about in novels. But marriage was a more binding commitment in Maupassant's day. Mathilde was stuck with the nice little man she married. She wouldn't have started having "affairs" with other men, and she wouldn't have thought of getting a divorce. Her fate was practically settled when 

...she let herself be married off to a little clerk in the Ministry of Education.

There must be many women who regret being married to the men they end up with. They must dream about how their lives would have been more comfortable and more interesting if only they had married this or that other man. The invitation to the Minister's ball in "The Necklace" only provides a brief opportunity for Mathilde Loisel to revel in the attention of men who are superior to her husband--

...men who were famous and sought after, whose homage roused every other woman's envious longings.

The ball is only like a continuation of the dreams she has when she is alone at home. It is not the ball that makes the big difference in the story, but the loss of the borrowed necklace. If she hadn't lost it, her life would have been the same as before. She would have become a mother and a lower-middle-class housewife. She might have learned to accept her lot in life. She might have even become happy.

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What might have been the quality of Madame Loisel's life if she had not lost the necklace in "The Necklace"?

Madame Loisel would still have led a very unhappy life even if she hadn't lost the necklace. This is because she believes—without any evidence, it should be pointed out—that she has aristocratic blood coursing through her veins. As she believes herself entitled to better things, anything short of an upper-class lifestyle would be completely unacceptable to her.

Even so, the material conditions of Mathilde's life would've been much better had she not lost the necklace. Yes, it would still have been the kind of modest middle-class life that she cordially loathes and from which she yearns to escape, but at least she wouldn't have been poor; she wouldn't have had to perform back-breaking work in order to make ends meet.

But Mathilde is too blinded by greed and snobbery to see that. Deeply unsatisfied by the life that she leads, she's convinced that the grass is always greener on the other side. That's why she jumps at the chance to wear what she wrongly thinks is a valuable necklace to the Education Ministry ball, with damaging long-term consequences for her quality of life.

Because Mathilde would never accept an ordinary middle-class existence, it's almost certain that even if she hadn't worn the necklace, she would still have been driven to do something foolish in order to escape from her lowly condition. And it's a virtual certainty that whatever she did would also have ended in tears.

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What might have been the quality of Madame Loisel's life if she had not lost the necklace in "The Necklace"?

If Madame Loisel had never borrowed nor lost the necklace which was loaned to her by her friend, Madame Forestier, it is likely that she would have continued to be unhappy with her lot in life. Despite the fact that she has a little Breton girl to do the washing, food on the table, and a happy husband, Madame Loisel “suffered endlessly, feeling herself born for every delicacy and luxury.” Though she was actually born into a family of artisans and secured a good marriage to a government clerk, she continues to feel as though “fate had blundered over her,” intending her for an entirely different type of life than the one to which she was born. Indeed, “She suffered from the poorness of her house, from its mean walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains,” tormented by these deficits, though other women of her same status would not have even been aware of them.

In short, Madame Loisel’s quality of life would likely have been very similar to the quality of life she has at the story’s beginning. Though she is provided for in more ways than many, she is miserable and unhappy, thinking only of what she does not have. Her actual quality of life is quite good, by most standards—she and her husband have financial security and even the ability to save a little—but she does not recognize this and considers her quality of life to be quite poor.

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What might have been the quality of Madame Loisel's life if she had not lost the necklace in "The Necklace"?

I first read this story in 10th grade, and the entire situation continues to haunt me - it is one of those fabulous stories that will never leave you.

I've thought about it this way: Losing the necklace made her work harder and sacrifice more than she ever had before.  Consider how much (money) she and her husband made to replace it.

Hypothetically, had she not lost the necklance but if they could work that hard to make as much money, perhaps that short time of sacrifice could have been a small nest egg they could have built up to eventually have a slightly higher quality of life.  Or, what if she had just been honest (after she made enough money) and then got to keep most of it... I think in that case the work might have seemed worth it.

But then you have to realize, that had the necklace never been lost, the work put into replacing it never would have happened.  In fact, her life probably wouldn't have changed at all, except that she would still be living in bitter envy of those who had more than she did.  Without some sort of calamity to spark her into action, I doubt Loisel would have been capable of making a major life change on her own.

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What might have been the quality of Madame Loisel's life if she had not lost the necklace in "The Necklace"?

In my opinion, Madame Loisel's life would have been much easier if she had not lost the necklace, but it would still not have been any more satisfying to her.  I say this because she was not happy before she lost the necklace and there is no reason to believe that she would have gotten happier.

Mme Loisel was unhappy because she felt she deserved a richer and more elegant lifestyle than she and her husband could afford.  When she lost the necklace, their lifestyle got much worse.  They had to work much harder and have even fewer luxuries so they could buy the replacement necklace.  But if she had not lost the necklace, their life would have continued just as it had.  They still would not have had enough money for her to live in the way she wanted.  Therefore, she would not have been any happier.

This shows that her life was really made quite miserable by her inability to accept her circumstances.

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Suppose Madame Loisel never lost the necklace. How would her life have ended up?

Madame Loisel's discontent and desire meant that she would have ended up unhappy whether or not she borrowed the necklace. The story tells us that she had what most young women of her class would have considered a happy and comfortable life, with a pleasant apartment, a servant, and a kind, loving, hardworking husband. But Mrs. Loisel was so caught up in the fantasy world of romance novels that real life paled in comparison. She dreamed of

tapestries peopling the walls with folk of a past age and strange birds in faery forests; she imagined delicate food served in marvelous dishes, murmured gallantries.

No matter how comfortable her real life became, it could not match her fantasy world of wealth and romance.

The glass ("paste") necklace that Madame Loisel mistakes for a real, costly diamond symbolizes her inability to see past the superficial. She is a shallow person, attracted by shiny objects to which she attaches too great a worth. She does not, for example, discern what a good man her husband is. She doesn't realize that in trying to please her, he gives up his own pleasures, such as buying a new hunting rifle, which, in reality, is worth more than being showered with expensive gifts by someone who is never about to be inconvenienced.

No matter what her husband or anyone else did for her, however, Madame Loisel was going to want more. This insatiable desire would have led to disaster or unhappiness one way or another.

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Suppose Madame Loisel never lost the necklace. How would her life have ended up?

Mathilde Loisel is portrayed as a superficial, materialistic woman, who resents her husband for not amassing wealth and is unhappy with her status as a middle-class wife. Mathilde Loisel dreams of enjoying a life of luxury and desires to live like an affluent aristocrat. However, Mathilde Loisel married a humble clerk and is not content with her life. After borrowing and losing Madame Forestier's imitation diamond necklace, Mathilde and her husband spend their life savings and make extreme financial sacrifices to raise thirty-six thousand francs to purchase an authentic diamond necklace.

The cost of the genuine diamond necklace severely impacts the lives of Mathilde Loisel and her husband, who are forced to move into a smaller apartment and work extra hours to pay back their loans. For the next ten years, Mathilde Loisel lives a difficult, financially unstable life, which takes a toll on her appearance and emotions. When Madame Forestier sees her for the first time in ten years, she does not recognize her friend. Mathilde then discovers that she sacrificed ten years of her life to replace an imitation necklace.

Given Mathilde's superficial, shallow personality, one could argue that Mathilde would have remained an unhappy, ungrateful woman even if she had never lost the necklace. While she may not have aged ten years, Mathilde's emotions and negative outlook on life would have been the same. She would have continued to complain about being middle class and dream about unattainable luxurious items. Even if her husband never had to spend their life savings, Mathilde would never have enough money to be satisfied.

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Suppose Madame Loisel never lost the necklace. How would her life have ended up?

Sadly, I think Madame Loisel would not have had a very happy life even had she not lost the necklace. Let's suppose for a moment that as the belle of the ball, she had been able to parlay her popularity into a more elevated social life or even a better job for Monsieur Loisel and that the couple did not need to strain under the burden of the debt for the necklace.  Madame Loisel seems like the kind of person who would always have wanted more and more, someone who was not going to be contented with anything she already had, a real "material girl." She is not exactly living in the streets as the story begins. Their place seems to have reasonably comfortable furnishings, and they have servants, too.  Furthermore, Monsieur Loisel strikes me as the kind of man who was not going to always go along with his wife's status-seeking agenda, for example, thinking that flowers were as good as jewels, as he suggests when the invitation comes. While he placated her for the one event, giving up his savings for her dress, I think he would have had his limits.  (His going into debt to replace the necklace was a matter of honor, not of pleasing his wife.) If this story were taking place today, I would go so far as to suggest that Madame Loisel might leave her husband for a wealthier man, but this was Catholic France, so that seems impossible.  Had that been the case, my thought is that she still would have been unhappy, always wanting more than she had.  Madame Loisel thought her face should be her fortune, but ultimately, I think, her fortune lay in her character, which was one of discontent.

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What if Mathilde Loisel hadn't lost the necklace in "The Necklace"?

This is a very interesting question! Through text evidence, inference, and supposition, readers can decide what the quality of Mademoiselle Loisel's life would have been had she not lost her friend's necklace. Yet the question of whether she is better or worse off requires us to delve into the depths of her desire and is more difficult to answer.

Guy de Maupassant's short story entitled "The Necklace" shows the protagonist, Mathilde Loisel, desperately longing to be wealthy and admired. However, her station in life does not allow this. She is not from a notable family, she has no money or position, and therefore she settles for marriage with a lowly clerk in the ministry of education. Despite her reality, she longs to satisfy her cravings for the finer things in life. Consider the following passage:

She suffered endlessly, feeling herself born for every delicacy and luxury. She suffered from the poorness of her house, from its mean walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains. All these things, of which other women of her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her. The sight of the little Breton girl who came to do the work in her little house aroused heartbroken regrets and hopeless dreams in her mind. She imagined silent antechambers, heavy with Oriental tapestries, lit by torches in lofty bronze sockets, with two tall footmen in knee-breeches sleeping in large arm-chairs, overcome by the heavy warmth of the stove. She imagined vast saloons hung with antique silks, exquisite pieces of furniture supporting priceless ornaments, and small, charming, perfumed rooms, created just for little parties of intimate friends, men who were famous and sought after, whose homage roused every other woman's envious longings.

Because of these longings and her husband's great desire to make her happy, he secures an invitation to a ball for them. She is able to buy a nice dress but fears she is not appropriately adorned. She borrows a beautiful diamond necklace from her childhood friend Mademoiselle Forestier. At the ball, she loses the necklace. Because of her pride, she is unwilling to tell Mademoiselle Forestier the truth. She and her husband end up buying a new necklace to replace the lost one. They have to borrow the money and end up losing their modest lifestyle. For ten years, they work to pay the debt. Mathilde ages greatly in that time period.

From a strictly monetary position, Mathilde would have been better off if she hadn't lost the necklace. Although she was dissatisfied, she lived a comfortable lifestyle. She had a maid to help with housework. She had a comfortable home. She had enough money to buy a dress worth 400 francs—a healthy sum for a piece of clothing. She and her husband had savings from an inheritance.

It is my assertion that the quality of Mathilde's inner life would have been no better if she hadn't lost the necklace. She was already a bitter woman, lamenting the fact that she couldn't have the fine things she desired and felt she was entitled to.

She had a rich friend, an old school friend whom she refused to visit, because she suffered so keenly when she returned home. She would weep whole days, with grief, regret, despair, and misery.

She was so entrenched in her covetousness that she wouldn't even maintain or nurture a relationship with an old friend, because it brought her too much heartache to see her friend enjoying all the luxuries wealth provides. Dissatisfaction with one's life brings about its own misery, no matter the presence or lack of material comforts.

It wasn't truly the loss of the necklace that ruined Mathilde's life. It was her consuming desire for what she could not have. If she could have made the choice to be satisfied with her modest yet comfortable life, she would not have come to such financial ruin. If she had learned to be satisfied with her devoted husband who tried hard to please her, she might not have become bitter and dissatisfied with her lot in life.

Had she maintained a closer friendship with Mademoiselle Forestier and not been so bound by pride, she might have been able to tell her the truth about the necklace disappearing. If Mathilde had told her the truth, she would have known that the necklace was an imitation, and not worth anything. Her life savings and ten years of her life were given to repay something that was of no value. Mathilde misses the things in life that are of true worth, like the selfless giving her husband shows, and the simple pleasures of love.

Mathilde is a static character, and other than outward appearances she shows no changes throughout the course of the story. The one thing that changes is that she has the memory of being beautiful and admired at a ball once upon a time. She was able to pretend to be what she longed to be on that one night. But it is a shallow desire that can never bring her true happiness. The point that she failed to grasp is that life's joy is not found in material things, which glitter and shine but have no lasting worth. True joy is found in relationships and love for one another. She disdained her husband due to his lowly station and refused to be satisfied by his selfless love. She even failed to nurture her relationship with a friend due to her jealousy and pride. In the end, even her illusion of being what she always desired to be is shattered when she finds out the necklace was a fake.

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What if Mathilde Loisel hadn't lost the necklace in "The Necklace"?

In certain respects, we can't really know with certainty how Mathilde Loisel's life would have continued had she not lost the necklace. These kinds of counterfactuals, after all, are speculative exercises. This is especially the case as we look further forward into time. We can certainly make reasoned assumptions on the short term, but if we were to extend this analysis along a longer time frame (for example, something like ten or twenty years into her future), the exercise begins to become a purely fictional one.

In any case, the key thing to consider with a question like this, is the degree to which this experience has disrupted and ruined Mathilde's life, throwing the Loisels into heavy debt and poverty. Certainly, had she not lost the necklace, this life-altering experience would not have unfolded (and, you can assume, she'd have continued to live much in the manner as she had before).

As "The Necklace" opens, Mathilde is defined in terms of her vanity and pretensions. She believes she is entitled towards a loftier lifestyle than she and her husband can actually support. It is for this reason she borrows the necklace to begin with: to create a false image of wealth. In this respect, even before losing the necklace and falling into real poverty, Mathilde Loisel is unhappy with her life, made miserable by her own pretensions and frustrations. As traumatic as her fall into poverty was, you should also recognize the role this experience played in breaking those illusions.

Thus, at least in the short term, we can imagine that, had she not lost the necklace, life for Mathilde would have continued much as it had before. She'd have continued in her comfortable lifestyle as a bureaucrat's wife, while remaining frustrated and miserable that she couldn't have occupied a loftier place in the social hierarchy. Moving beyond this, however, years and decades into the future, makes for more difficult speculation.

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