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A Vendetta by Guy de Maupassant

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Justina Nyameh

on 18 December 2013

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Transcript of A Vendetta by Guy de Maupassant

A Vendetta by Guy de Maupassant
The author introduces a small town in Italy where Widow Saverini, her son Antoine Saverini, and his dog Semillante are introduced.
Antoine is murdered by Nicolas Ravolati.
Rising Action:
Antione's body is brought back to the Widow's house, where she swear's to avenge his death. She then proceeds to train his dog for months to do her dirty work.
: The Widow travels to the murderer's workplace with the dog dressed as a man.
The dog does exactly what the Widow trains it to do and kills her son's murderer.
The Widow is now able to rest peacefully knowing her sons murderer has been taken care of and her promise fulfilled.
The main character of the short story, 'A Vendetta,' is Widow Saverini, also referred to as "the old woman."
The physical description of the main character is that she is "old," "has a "wrinkled hand" and is "feeble."
The old woman's motivation in the story is to avenge for the slain of her son Antoine.
The main message of the story is that justice will always be served. The widow successfully avenged her sons death, an example from the text:
"The man put out his arms, clasped the dog, and rolled upon the ground. For a few minutes he writhed, beating the ground with his feet; then he remained motionless while Semillante nuzzled at his throat and tore it out in ribbons. Two neighbours, sitting at their doors, plainly recollected having seen a poor old man come out with a lean black dog which ate, as it walked, something brown that its master was giving to it.In the evening the old woman returned home. That night she slept well."
Important Literary Devices

Definition: when the author gives a hint of what is to occur later in the story
Example from text:
“When his old mother received his body, carried home by bystanders, she did not weep, but for a long time stayed motionless, looking at it; then, stretching out her wrinkled hand over the body,
she swore vendetta against him.”
2. Pathos
Definition: the creation of sympathy or pity for a particular character or situation.
Example from text:
“On evening, after a quarrel, Antoine Saverini was treacherously slain by a knife-thrust from Nicolas Ravolati”
3. Hyperbole
Definition: use of exaggeration (figure of speech)
Example from text:
“Again the old woman gave her nothing to eat. The animal,
mad with hunger
, barked hoarsely.”
4. Personification
Definition: attribution of a human quality to an inanimate object
Example from text:
the sea and
away the bare shore, clad with a sparse covering of grass; it rushes into the ravine and raves its two sides.”
5. Simile
Definition: a comparison of two dissimilar things using the words “like” or “as”. It is a particular kind of image.
Example from text:
“The trailing wisps of white foam round the black points of countless rocks that everywhere
the waves, look
rags of canvas floating and heaving on the surface of water.”
Human Condition
What does the story reveal to us about the human condition?
1. Under serious stimulation, we tend to commit absurd actions that we never imagined we could
These actions are done with the intend of getting what we believe is
an eye for an eye-
2. Some actions- such as being revengeful can be destructive and could potentially become a serious obsession
Example from text:
“How could she do it without another’s help, so feeble as she was, so near to death? But she had promised, she had sworn upon the body. She could not forget, she could not wait. She could no longer sleep at night, she had no more sleep nor peace; obstinately she searched for a way.”
3. Under such a unstable mind set- we can become not only destructive or dangerous towards others-but also towards ourselves
our morals and ethical beliefs are seemingly absent
"PAOLO SAVERINI’S WIDOW LIVED ALONE WITH HER SON in a poor little house on ramparts of Bonifacio...”
We first encounter this while the Widow finds out about her murdered son. She swears a vendetta against his murder.
Bonifacio, France. A small town located on the tip of the island of Corsica.
"The town, built on a spur of the mountains, in places actually overhanging the sea, looks across a channel bristling with reefs, to lower shores of Sardinia." (Paragraph 1, Page 1)
Very sad from the beginning of the story.
Main character is a widow.
Continues to become tragic as her son gets murder, and plans out a venture to get his murder killed.
The conflict in this story can be seen as both external and internal. Not only is it the Widow's vendetta against the murderer of her son, but also an internal struggle with herself to fulfill her promise to Antoine, in order to finally get a good night's sleep.
Personality Traits of the Protagonist
1st personality trait: Determined
"The old mother began to speak to him. At the sound of her voice the dog was silent. There, there, you shall be avenged, my little one, my boy, my poor child. Sleep, sleep, you shall be avenged, do you hear! Your mother swears it! And your mother always keeps her word; you know she does."
2nd personality trait: Religious
"She meditated on it till morning, then, rising at the approach of day, she went to church. She prayed, kneeling on the stones, prostrate before God, begging Him to aid her, to sustain her, to grant her poor worn-out body the strength necessary to avenge her son.”
3rd personality trait: Dispassionate
"When his old mother received his body, carried home by bystanders, she did not weep, but for a long time stayed motionless, looking at it; then, stretching out her wrinkled hand over the body, she swore vendetta against him. She would have no one stay with her, and shut herself up with the body, together with the howling dog. The animal howled continuously, standing at the foot of the bed, her head thrust towards her master, her tail held tightly between her legs. She did not stir, nor did the mother, who crouched over the body with her eyes fixed steadily upon it, and wept great silent tears.”
How the Protagonist is Dynamic
In the beginning of the story, the audience learns that the old woman is a widow who lives alone with her only son. She’s recluse; she appears to have had no real friends or family – other than her son and his dog.
After the murder of her son Antoine, the old woman is unable to sleep. She becomes obsessed with murdering her son’s killer. She spends long hours just plotting her revenge. She even goes to church to pray for vengeance, which is hypocrisy of religion since the bible teaches us to forgive those who have sinned.
At the end of the story, the old woman’s mission is accomplished. She is now at peace with herself because she has completed her vendetta. Now, she is able to sleep well at night.
The Antagonist of 'A Vendetta' is Nicolas Ravolati.
Occupation: Joiner
After murdering Antoine Saverini during a quarrel, he flees to a fishing village in Italy.
Towards the end of the short story, Nicolas was viciously attacked by Semillante, the dog, who seized Nicolas’s throat, nuzzled at it and tore it out in ribbons. Nicolas dies a bloody death.
Another important character in 'A Vendetta' is Semillante, Antoine's pet dog.
Semillante was trained for months by the old woman to attack a dummy by starving her of food and hiding sausage inside the dummy’s throat.
At the old woman’s word, the dog attacks and eventually kills Nicolas.
Point of View
Definition of Point of View
: the perspective from which the story is told.
The most common types of point of view are:
First person
: the story is told by a character in the story, using the pronouns “I”, “me”, “we”, etc.
Third person
: the story is told by the narrator using the pronouns “he”, “she”, “they” etc. There are two types of third person point of view: limited and omniscient
narrator is restricted to describing the character’s actions without having delving into the inner lives of the characters
, or “all-knowing”, narrator can tell about any of the character’s actions, thoughts and emotions
Limited omniscient
- where the narrator focuses on the thoughts, feelings and actions of a single major character
Example from text
This story was mainly written in limited omniscient format.
“Paolo Saverini’s widow lived alone with her son in a poor little house on the ramparts of Bonifacio.”

Techniques & Literary Devices Used
'A Vendetta' was strictly written in a narrative and descriptive format, with the given tones of seriousness, distant, emotional attributions and the contribution of a negative/aggressive diction.
“The widow Saverini’s house held for dear life to the very edge of the cliff; its three windows looked out over this
“Slowly she bent over him, pressing her
lips on the dead lips”
Language Techniques
Significance of Title
Vendetta: a blood feud in which a family of a murdered person seeks out vengeance on the murder/murder's family
Personal Connection Question
Isn't it ironic for a person to be a Catholic, but yet swear upon death of another human being?
Yes, indeed it is pretty ironic. The old woman's behaviour is strangely ironic because she is a Catholic, but yet she swears to her son's dead body that she will kill the assassin responsible for her son's death. This is ironic because Catholics are taught to forgive, yet she still seeks vengeance.
Presented by: Lavina Kalu, Mariam Mansour, Samantha McCulley & Justina Nyameh

Definition: that make the literal sound
Example from text
“All day long and all night long the dog
Definition: creating a visual description if mental images, figures or likenesses of things
Examples from text
“Paolo Saverini’s widow lived alone with her son in a poor little house on the ramparts of Bonifacio.”
“At its foot, on the other side and almost completely surrounding it, is the channel that serves as its harbor,
in the cliff like a gigantic corridor.”
Examples from text:
“She prayed, kneeling on the stones, prostrate before God, begging him to aid her, to sustain her, to grant her poor worn-out body the strength necessary to avenge her son.”

When she judged that time has come, Mother Saverini went to confession and took communion one Sunday morning with an ecstatic fervor
; then, putting on a man’s clothes, like an old raged beggar, she bargained with a Sardinian fisherman, who took her, accompanied by the dog, to the other side of the straits.”
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