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Last Updated on September 11, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 590

Florentine . . . Florentine Lacasse . . . half song, half squalor, half springtime, half misery . . .

When Jean thinks of Florentine, he is confused by the contrast between his perception of her as unrefined and his evident attraction towards her. This confusion continues during their short courtship. Ultimately, Jean believes that he can’t be with someone like Florentine and decides to be glad that his friend is attracted to her instead. However, he rapes and impregnates Florentine in the end and then leaves her to deal with it alone.

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I'm probably goin’ to be promoted, and it’ll be more than twenty bucks you’ll get then, you just wait. You’ll have enough to live on, Ma. You won’t have to scrape all your life, the rest of us’ll see to that. 

Eugene Lacasse promises to send his mother money once he joins the military. It’s a glimmer of hope for the family because it means that they might be able to escape their desperate financial situation. However, Eugene doesn’t come through on his word. It’s another disappointment for Rose-Anna, who is already losing her youngest son, Daniel, to leukemia; is pregnant with another; and is desperately trying to find a new place to live to avoid rising rent prices and potential eviction. Though Eugene doesn’t come through and send money home, this quote demonstrates the hope that many people of Saint-Henri have toward the war: they see it as an opportunity to better their lives and financial situations.

And the word “wedding,” which she had always linked the happiness [sic], now seemed austere, distressing, full of snares and revelations. She saw her mother, heavy and moving with difficulty. A vision of herself as a victim of the same deformity was vivid in her mind.

For Florentine, who formerly daydreamed about a better life and social situation for herself, marriage has lost its charm: she must marry Emmanuel to cover the scandal of her rape and pregnancy and to find financial security. Even though she manages to escape her problems by marrying Emmanuel, she sees that, in some ways, she will still live her mother’s difficult life.

War and poverty are two conflicting motifs in the book, as the war...

(The entire section contains 590 words.)

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