The Piece of String: Themes & Analysis

The Piece of String: Themes & Analysis
Coming up next: The Piece of String Summary

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:03 Background
  • 0:25 Be Proud of Who You Are
  • 1:09 Avoid Stereotypes
  • 1:52 Reputation Matters
  • 2:43 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In 'The Piece of String' by Guy de Maupassant, a peasant's life is destroyed after he finds and picks up a little piece of string. In this lesson, we'll examine the themes from this short story.

Background

Christian author, Regina Brett, said 'What other people think of you is none of your business.' If Maître Hauchecorne, the protagonist of Guy de Maupassant's ''The Piece of String'' had followed this advice, he may have saved himself some trouble. This is the story of a French peasant who is accused of a crime he didn't commit. Let's discuss some of the themes from this story.

Be Proud of Who You Are

Maître Hauchecorne's trouble begins when he finds a piece of thin string on the ground. He is beginning to roll it up when he notices his enemy, Maître Malandain, staring at him. Embarrassed that his enemy caught him being so frugal, Hauchecorne 'quickly hid it beneath his blouse and then slipped it into his breeches, pocket, then pretended to be still looking for something on the ground.'

Hauchecorne's odd behavior because of his shame draws suspicion to him. Later, when it's discovered that a wallet has gone missing, Malandain accuses Hauchecorne of stealing it. This shame follows Hauchecorne for the rest of his life. Had Hauchecorne owned his thriftiness instead of trying to hide it, he could have avoided a lot of problems. There is no reason to be ashamed of who you are.

Avoid Stereotypes

The next lesson this story teaches the reader is about avoiding stereotypes. There is a great amount of distrust between the peasants. The narrator describes the way the peasants 'examined the cows, went off, came back, always in doubt for fear of being cheated, never quite daring to decide, looking the seller square in the eye in the effort to discover the tricks of the man and the defect in the beast.'

The peasants are perceived, even by those in the same class, to be untrustworthy. Although the only evidence that Hauchecorne has taken the wallet is the testimony of Hauchecorne's enemy, the entire town is ready to believe that Hauchecorne is guilty. He's treated like a criminal for the rest of his life. If Hauchecorne were an aristocrat, would he have been tortured in this way? Probably not.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support