We look in on a very old man named Gillenormand, who despite his age (which is over ninety) is full of energy. The one thing he seems most opinionated about is the French Revolution, which he thinks was a terrible thing. He believes in the king and in the social order. He has no time for democracy or revolution. Oh yeah, and he was also a bit of a player in his younger years.
Over the years, Monsieur Gillenormand had two daughters with two different wives. The older daughter still lives with him, but the younger one died at thirty. This other daughter had married a soldier who fought under Napoleon.
Monsieur Gillenormand has always despised this son-in-law and considers him a disgrace to the family because he fought for Napoleon. Or in other words, he fought for an army that stood for everything Gillenormand hates – like democracy and revolution.
Monsieur Gillenormand lives with his older daughter. The only other person living with them is Monsieur Gillenormand's grandson, a little boy who is the son of Gillenormand's dead daughter, and therefore the son of the military man who Gillenormand considers a disgrace to the family.