unigo_skin
© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
 

Quotes

Quote #7

Once upon a time, I was always talking of freedom. At breakfast I used to spread it on my toast, I used to chew it all day long, and in company my breath was delightfully redolent of freedom. With that key word I would bludgeon whoever contradicted me; I made it serve my desires and my power. […] After all, I did on occasion make a more disinterested use of freedom and even – just imagine my naïveté – defended it two or three times […] I must be forgiven such rash acts; I didn’t know what I was doing (6.13).

Along with "truth" and "innocence," "freedom" is one of the concepts that Jean-Baptiste reconsiders during his transformation. If he uses freedom to serve his interest before his "fall," then he uses slavery for the same means after.

Quote #8

Covered with ashes, tearing my hair, my face scored by clawing, but with piercing eyes, I stand before all humanity recapitulating my shames without losing sight of the effect I am producing, and saying: "I was the lowest of the low." Then imperceptibly I pass from the "I" to the "we." When I get to "This is what we are," the trick has been played and I can tell them off. I am like them, to be sure; we are in the soup together (6.21).

Jean-Baptiste’s entire confession has been a transformation. Or, in friendlier terms, he’s been messing with you.

Quote #9

Now I shall wait for you to write me or come back. For you will come back, I am sure! You’ll find me unchanged. And why should I change, since I have found the happiness that suits me? I have accepted duplicity instead of being upset about it. […] I permit myself everything again, and without the laughter this time. I haven’t changed my way of life; I continue to love myself and to make use of others. Only, the confession of my crimes allows me to begin again lighter in heart and to taste a double enjoyment, first of my nature and secondly of a charming repentance (6.22).

Jean-Baptiste’s transformation has been one of the mind, not one of action. It is at this point in the narrative where, as readers, we have to question whether Jean-Baptiste has been fundamentally changed or not.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
back to top