Two Little Soldiers
-Guy de Maupassant
People in the story:
- Luc Le Ganidec
- Jean Kerderen
- A village girl / dairymaid
The story ‘Two Little Soldiers’ is about a triangular love with a completely unexpected twist at the end. Luc and Jean are the major characters of the story. They are soldiers and spend their free time on Sundays away from the barracks, in the countryside. Their outing has taken on the character of a ritual. Every Sunday, they bring food to the same place in the woods and lie back to enjoy the food, wine, and sights of an area that reminds them of home.
Their ritual comes to take in a bit of innocent gazing of a young village girl who brings her cow to pasture and milks it every week at the same time. One Sunday, the girl talks to them on her way to the pasture. When she returns later, she offers them the cow’s milk and leaves them with a promise to meet the following Sunday. The next weekend, Jean suggests that they should bring something for her. They buy candies as a suitable present. When the girl arrives, they don’t dare to give her the candies. Finally, Luc tells the girl that they have brought something for her. Jean hands the little paper bag to her.
As the weeks pass, the girl turns out to be the topic of conversation for two soldiers when they spend time at the barracks. The three become fast friends. They tell each other little incidents and details of their villages. The girl begins to eat their meal with them and appears to devote equal attention to them. Then, in an unexpected move, Luc seeks leave on a Tuesday, and again the following Thursday. He borrows money from one of the friends but offers no explanation for it.
The following Sunday the girl appears as she always does. When she is near them, Luc gets up and goes towards her. Then, she kisses him passionately. Jean is upset and heartbroken because he is left out and does not understand why the girl has suddenly turned all of her attention to Luc. He comes to know that why Luc had gone out twice during the week. Luc and the girl go together to attend to the cow and disappear into the woods for a long time. Jean remains motionless and panicky. When they return, they kiss again. She doesn’t offer Jean any milk that day. Neither of the soldiers talks about the incident.
While returning to the barracks, they stop momentarily on the bridge over the Seine as usual. Jean leans over the railing. He falls into water. Luc can’t do anything. He watches in grief as his good friend drowns. He runs to the barracks with his eyes full of tears.
Answer these questions.
- Why do the two soldiers spend their free time on Sundays away from the barrack out in the countryside?
The two soldiers spend their free time on Sundays away from the barracks out in the countryside because they had seen a girl on their way who was a dairymaid.
- Why does the girl become the topic of conversation for these soldiers?
The girl becomes the topic of conversation for these soldiers because they both fell in love with the girl.
- Why does deception enter into their friendship?
As both the friends were attracted to the girl, Luc started visiting the girl even on Tuesday and didn’t return until ten O’clock. Similarly, on Friday also he borrowed some money from one of his friends and went to visit the girl. This made Jean worried about their friendship. He found that Luc was deceiving him.
- Do you think that Luc is a betrayer of friendship?
I think Luc is a betrayer of friendship. If he wasn’t a betrayer, he would inform his friend Jean while going out from the barrack to meet the girl on the working days like Tuesday and Friday.
- What is the cause of suicide of Jean? Do you think that it was the only release of his love?
The cause of suicide of Jean was the betrayal from his friend Luc and the love. I don’t think the cause of suicide was only the release of his love. Jean was jealous of the love affair of Luc and the dairymaid.
Reference to the context
- What is the central theme of the story?
This short story “Two Little Soldiers” is a triangular love story which has been written by a French writer Guy de Maupassant. The story is about a bizarre triangular love which has a completely unexpected result at the end. This story shows the compatibility of friendship and romantic love with change, discontent, conflict, betrayal and jealousy. This story has presented the setting of Courbevoie, a town on the outskirts of Paris in the Fench countryside. The main characters here in this story are two French soldiers named Luc Le Ganidec and Jean Kerderen.
- “What are you doing here? Are you watching the grass grow?”
i) Who is the speaker?
The speaker is the milkmaid.
ii) What does the word “here” indicate?
“Here” means the place where the two soldiers visit every weekend.
iii) Who does “you” refer to?
“You” refers to two soldiers.
- “He leaned–he–he was leaning–so far over–that his head carried him away–and–he–fell–he fell—-“
- Who is the speaker?
The speaker is Luc.
- Why is the speaker speaking with interruption?
The speaker is speaking with interruption because he is in pain and scared of the death of Jean.
- What does he mean when he says “he–fell–he fell—”?
He means that Jean fell into the river.
- Two Little Soldiers can be viewed as a series of dramatic scenes. Describe the story as tragedy.
This short story “Two Little Soldiers” is a bizarre dramatic triangular love story which has been ended with a tragic incident. Here in this story, we find jealousy, betrayal, romantic love with change, discontent as well as mental conflict. The milkmaid has created enmity between two friends. She has become the main cause of Jean’s fall down. We find both friends’ intimacy and their enjoyment during their weekends. But, after the entry of milkmaid in their life, deception starts playing its role. We find deceptive acts of Luc Le Ganidec. Due to these immoral as well as deceptive acts of both lovers, Jean suffers a lot. When he gets realization about their affair, he becomes so sad both physically and mentally. He wants to cry being desperate. He feels himself a fool. The deception of both lovers makes him heartbroken. He finds them quite indifferent towards him. He doesn’t reveal his painful feelings to them. He feels better to commit suicide than to stay with betrayers. The tragic death of Jean at the end of the story surprises the readers too.
- What is the setting and style of the story?
Setting: “Two Little soldiers” takes place in Courbevoie, a town in the countryside of France. Although there is no combat in the story, there is a war going on.
Style: Here in this story, the writer has applied a very realistic style of writing. Most of his writings include the events related to soldiers and war because he had spent his life in the army. He even preferred to write about love affairs.
- How would you describe the conflict between the friends?
In most of love triangular relationships, conflicts are seen among the lovers. The nature of the conflict is different in different cases. Sometimes conflicts cross the limits and sometimes conflicts turn into life long jealousy as well as enmity. Here in this story, we find conflict between person to person. Both little soldiers’ attraction towards milkmaid reach so high. She becomes the major topic of discussion for them. Among the two friends’ relationship, deception takes an ugly entry through Luc Le Ganidec. Jean’s realization about their affair makes him angry as well jealous of both lovers. He feels himself being cheated and betrayed by his good friend Luc. Here, the conflict is seen in a very unexpressed way. The mental conflict of Jean can easily be noticed. The sole cause behind this conflict is the milkmaid and also the deceptive acts of Luc. Due to this hidden conflict, Jean has lost his life at the end.
Reference beyond the text
- Is it good to have conflict between friendship and love? Is it morally good that a person and his best friend can love the same person?
No, It is not good to have a conflict between friendship and love because these are the relationships which are very essential for an individual. True friends and loved ones always care for each other. They shed light on your qualities, both positive and bad, and improve self-esteem. Via laughter and good times, friends help relieve tension and hardship. They will help you move forward.
As long as your love and intension are pure towards the person, it is not morally bad for two-person having the same feelings for the third one. Knowingly or unknowingly, this type of condition may arise in a person’s life. Although it is not bad, possibilities are high for the problems to arise in the near future. So, the only solution is to talk with each other and solve the problem by controlling your emotions.
- How would you describe the triangular love?
This short story “Two Little Soldiers” has presented the theme of friendship, romantic love, discontent, betrayal and jealousy. This short story is about a triangular love where the deception of a friend has created an unfortunate incident for the next friend.
A triangular love (also called love triangle or a triangle of romance) is typically a romantic relationship involving three individuals. Although it can refer to two individuals romantically linked individually to a third, it typically indicates that each of the three individuals has some sort of relationship with the other two. It can be friendships, romantic, or family relationships.