M. Thibault (tee-BOH), an eminent Catholic social worker who has no time for the problems of his own disturbed family. When his son Jacques runs away in revolt against the smug respectability of his father and the dull Thibault household, the bigoted father suspects him, wrongly, of unnatural relations with his companion, a Protestant boy named Daniel de Fontanin. He gets the boy back and puts him into a reformatory that he has founded. M. Thibault is mercifully killed, during an incurable illness, when Antoine and Jacques give him an overdose of morphine.
Jacques Thibault (zhahk), an active youngster whose spirit is nearly broken by the cruel guards at the reformatory. His older brother Antoine, a doctor, helps in his gradual recuperation. Later, repulsed by Jenny de Fontanin, he disappears for three years. He spends part of that time in England. He then goes to Geneva, where he becomes an international socialist and an influential writer working to prevent the outbreak of World War I. Traced through his writing, he is called back as his father is dying. There, he again sees Jenny, and they are lovers until his pacifist duties call him back to Geneva. His plane is wrecked while he is trying to shower pamphlets on the workers and soldiers of France and Germany calling for peace through a general strike and refusal to bear arms. Badly injured and suspected of being a spy, he is shot by an orderly while he is being carried to headquarters for investigation.
Antoine Thibault, the older son, a doctor. He recognizes biographical and family details in a story published by Jacques in a Swiss magazine and summons his brother home during M. Thibault’s last illness. He falls in love with one of his patients, an adventurer named...
(The entire section is 767 words.)