Guy de Maupassant（1850——1893）， one of the greatest critical realist writers in the world, is considered as one of three “kings of world short story”。 Maupassant created six novels and 359 medium forms during his brief lifetime, engendering a momentous effect on the later literature. And it’s his maiden work, Suet Ball that won him world-wide prestige.
In1870, with the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, the real-based story Suet Ball happened. The heroine of the story is a humble harlot called Suet Ball. With a group of French residents of Rouen, recently occupied by the Prussian army, the 11 travelers are on their way fleeing to Le Havre in a stagecoach. In virtue of the appalling weather, the stagecoach moves rather slowly and has just covered a few miles by midday. Initially, those occupants snub Suet Ball whereas their attitudes alters with the emergence of a basket filled with scrumptious food and she caters for those hungry travelers selflessly.
The carriage doesn’t stop until they blunders into a Prussian-held territory called T?tes. A Prussian officer detains the coach with no definite reasons. In the next two days, the occupants wait with barely concealed impatience and eventually Suet Ball tells that they will be detained perpetually unless she approves of sleeping with the officer. Out of her patriotism, Suet Ball gives him a point-blank refusal. As it should be, those travelers behave furiously to the officer's arrogance while during the next two days, they exemplify logic and morality in diverse ways to convince Suet Ball of its validity. What a kind-hearted girl! Finally Suet Ball gives up and sacrifices her body for everyone’s freedom.
The next morning, they are permitted to leave. But those 'representatives of Virtue' totally neglect Suet Ball, casting scathing sights on the poor young woman while even disdaining talking to her and rejecting sharing their food with her in the same way that she did at the beginning. From their perspectives, Suet Ball turns out to be no more utilizable and should be condemned for her “ashamed” conduct. As the stagecoach travels deeper into the night, she seethes with rage against those hypocrites, and ultimately weeps for her lost dignity.
In this story, Maupassant highlighted the intense comparison between Suet Ball and the so-called nobles. Rapacity, hypocrisy, sexuality and nobility intertwine in the spotlight，eulogizing the underclass’ patriotism and lampooning the sham of the aristocracy. Maupassant portrays the inhabitants of the stagecoach in varied disparaging ways. The most luminous character belongs to the two nuns. At first they are portrayed as tranquil and subservient to Lord and demonstrate their fiery patriotic desire to dedicate to their motherland rather than a sordid intention like the other passengers: the nuns profess to haste to a military hospital to heal the wounded French soldiers, hence presenting the argument towards instigating Suet Ball to abandon her resistance. How absurd it is! Nuns are supposed to take strait vows and treat others benevolently. They fill Suet Ball's head with arguments, arguing that it is not morally wrong to sleep with the officer in order to let the travelers leave, and that the longer she waits, the more young French soldiers will die as the nuns are not there to look after them. Superficially, they claim that it is for the good of the country but indeed they’re just taking advantage of her. Suet Ball's resistance to the officer's sexual advances again indicate her patriotism. Cruel wars have stripped all the external stuffs. In contrast to all of these is Suet Ball, a prostitute, revealed to be the most fiercely patriotic, virtuous, and morally admirable character, which Maupassant contrasts with the hypocrisy and snobbery of the others.
It is arguably Maupassant’s most famous short story. The carriage constitutes a microcosm of French society as a whole. And the narrative techniques of this story are rather sophisticated and carefully conceived. On balance, a real noble person like Suet Ball can’t be judged by the appearance or the occupation, his/ her moral quality will glitter when confronting the real ordeal. Consequently, I deem that Suet Ball is worth reading lingeringly, savoring every word.