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La femme, une de celles appelees galantes, etait celebre par son embonpoint precoce qui lui avait valu le surnom de Boule de suif. [...] Aussitot qu'elle fut reconnue, des ehucholements coururent parmi les femmes honnetes, et les mots de 'prostituee,' de 'honte publique' furent chuchotes si haut qu'elle leva la tete.
From the moment we meet her, we know her only through the eyes of others, as Boule de Suif; her real name is used only four times in the novella, and never by one of her fellow passengers.
It is only the objectionable presence of Boule de Suif that allows the "honest" women to imagine themselves as equals and to converse as such:
(13) It would seem that this Chaucerian motif applies to "Boule de Suif" as well.
Most especially, Elisabeth reverts to her earlier status as a pariah shut out from dialog: "Les femmes parlaient a peine a Boule de suif" (78).
Yet in the eyes of those around her, who have already consigned her to the narrative of a vendue, Boule de Suif has no virtue to preserve.
(84, emphasis mine) Elisabeth Rousset's existence as a person has been replaced with that of Boule de Suif, a disposable character in a tawdry anecdote.
The cruel victory of the majority in "Boule de Suif" works through an inversion of this use of framing.
(6.) See Mary Donaldson-Evans, "The Decline and Fall of Elisabeth Rousset: Text and Context in Maupassant's 'Boule de Suif,'" Australian Journal of French Studies 18.
(7.) Baguely has identified "Boule de Suif" in terms of the literary convention of a social microcosm traveling together (242).
(8.) "Boule de Suif," in Boule de suif et autres contes de la guerre, ed.