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Questions to think about while reading Francois Mauriac's Vipers' Tangle Exam Questions [For each question, be sure that you can point to specific places or references in the text that would support your answer.] 1. Who are all the characters in this novel?…
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There are religious people, the seminarian and the priest. There are also his children: the son Hubert, the oldest daughter Genevieve, and Marie, the youngest daughter who died. He mentions his nephew Luc, and his sister in law Marinette who is Luc’s mother. Genevieve is married to Alfred, and they have a child, Janine who is married to Phili. Hubert is married to Olympe. Louis also has an illegitimate son called Robert. 2. Louis is the main character of this novel. What are the significant events of his life? Who is involved in the events of his life? Would you be able to fill out a timeline of Louis' life – Louis as a child and young man; Louis as an adult; Louis as he's dying? In the first phase of his life Louis has a lot of good fortune, despite his humble origins. He has a fine education and marries Isa, who is socially in a higher class than he is. He describes having children with her, but becoming distant with his wife in mid life , and leaving the church. He has a lot of success in his job as a lawyer, but as he grows older he is unfaithful and bitter. As an older man he is sick, and wants revenge on his ungrateful children, but a part of him is conscious of his own faults in this life story so far. 3. What kind of man is Louis? How would you describe him? Does Louis change at all over the course of the novel? If you say 'yes,' why does he change? I would describe Louis as eloquent but somewhat self-absorbed. He analyzes everything in great detail, and holds a grudge for decades if something does not please him. He was undoubtedly a very unpleasant man in mid-life and as an older man, acting like a tyrant in his family and being very irritable. As death approaches, however, he does undergo some change, because he reflects on the whole of his life and looks behind superficial actions, both his own actions and those of others. I think this makes him more generous and accepting of human weakness than before, and so he does undergo some kind of transformation at the end. 4. What is the nature of Louis' relationship with his wife, Isa, at the time that Louis is writing this letter? How does Louis feel toward Isa? Why? Do we get any sense of how Isa feels about Louis? The best way to describe Louis’ feelings towards Isa is “mixed”. 5. Was Louis and Isa's relationship always as it is at this point in time? What was the effect on Louis of falling in love with Isa? Louis obviously loved her when he married her, and was jealous of the man she loved before she knew him. He had money and she had social status, and so in practical terms it was a good marriage. He thought he had attained the kind of wife he deserved, and she made him happy at first. 6. How does their relationship change and evolve over time? Why does it change? The relationship deteriorates because Louis cannot forgive a relationship she had with another man before her marriage to Louis. She continues to be a good mother to their children, but she withdraws from Louis, and he withdraws from her. Enmity creeps in, and he regards her as a hypocrite because she is very religious, and yet cold towards him. Louis thinks Isa does not properly recognize and value his work achievements (Part VI, p 77 “you were the only person who remained deaf to the universal applause of my gifts as a pleader”). 7. What is Louis' relationship to each of his children? How does he think of them? What does he feel about them? Louis is very fond of his youngest daughter Marie, who died. He is not friendly towards Hubert and Genevieve, ... Read More
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