The Vagabond Places Discussed

Colette

Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Paris

*Paris. Sections of the city that are seen most in The Vagabond include Renée’s apartment on the avenue du Ternes quarter, near the Arc de Triomphe; Montmartre, the legendary center of bohemianism and artistic activity; and the Bois de Boulogne and residential areas surrounding it. The Bois de Boulogne, a vast wooded area on the west side of Paris, is traditionally a place to which the wealthy and the bourgeoisie go to see and be seen.

Renée’s work as a dancer and mime in Parisian “café-concerts” where the mostly male audiences can smoke, drink, and enjoy the shows, is set mainly in the Empyrée-Clichy, on the southern border of the Montmartre area. In these theaters, Renée spends a good deal of time in her dressing rooms. She also finds a certain excitement in looking through theater curtains from the backstage to watch the audiences.

Occasionally, for relaxation, Renée and her friends frequent the cafés on the hill of Montmartre. But Renée does not really feel comfortable there because the neighborhood is too seedy and rough.

Dressing rooms

Dressing rooms. The rooms in which Renée prepares for her performances are important refuges that shelter her from the outside world and the people who pursue her. Her dressing rooms are surrounded by those of her colleagues, who form a comforting family for her. At her dressing tables, Renée makes up her face, creating the theatrical masks that offer another means of hiding and escape. However, her makeup work also requires her frequently to consider herself in mirrors, in which she finds the reflections of an aging, lonely woman frightening.

Renée’s Empyrée-Clichy dressing room is the scene of her first meeting with a very important character,...

(The entire section is 739 words.)