1. What does Matilda covet? How does her desire affect her life?
2. What is ambition? Why is it a good servant but a poor master?
3. What was the slogan of the French Revolution? Which aspects are being explored in this story?
4. What are the goals and ambitions of Loisel as the story begins? What has he accomplished by the story's end?
5. What sort of school must Matilda Loisel and Jeanne Forestier have attended? How important is it culturally that the one girl grew up to marry a man of means, and the other married a clerk?
6. What can you guess about the economy in Paris and France at the time the story is set?
7. Why, for a story set in the crowded city of Paris in 1880, are there so few characters in this story?
8. How has technology made this story possible? Why could it not have been set in fourteenth-century France?