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Thérèse Raquin
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2017 Group Reads - Archives > Thérèse Raquin - Ch 27-32

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message 1: by Nicola (last edited May 28, 2017 01:21PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nicola | 311 comments Et Fini!

I felt rather like I was watching a play for the very final section of this gripping read! After having seen the downward spiral of the two over the months for them to decide on the very same day to eliminate the other and so gain some modicum of peace for themselves is not very likely but I'll forgive it for the dramatic impact :-)

1. In this last section Therese and Laurent grapple with their 'guilt'. Can we call it that? Is it remorse when the person wishes only to be free of the remembrance of the deed?

2. How do the two go about trying to forget or exculpate themselves? Do they each try the same things?

3. Therese continues what I would call the black comedy part of the book by throwing herself into a positive orgy of remorse at one point and imploring Laurent to join her. Do you think she is sincere?

Throughout it all Madame Raquin watches (well she can do little else can she!?). I thought in this last piece that she assumed some aspects of the religious. Zola was an atheist and he disliked the Catholic church so I think that the comedy of Therese's extravagant contrition was very pointed.

Madame Raquin was a mute and powerless being that Therese could safely grovel at the foot of and beg for forgiveness but that she ultimately disregards when a new diversion occurs to her. Therese tries to convince herself of the forgiveness she has been given but Laurent derides her for it. The 'forgiveness' which she has been given only exists in her imagination.

4. The ultimate conclusion however is that there is no escape for either of them. Do you think that given what has passed before that this is a fair assessment? That alone or together the two would never attain peace, especially considering the fact that the second murder would be so very obvious the crime would be immediately brought down onto the survivors head.

5. Do you have any other thoughts on this section or on the novel as a whole?


message 2: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2114 comments Mod
It's very cinematic in this section also, with the hand of Mme Raquin almost spelling out their doom. (But would anyone have believed it?)

The murderers try various tactics - brutality, hedonism, melodrama, but nothing works.

Does the ending mean that they are found after 12 hours, so that poor Mme Raquin doesn't have to starve to death? Though it seems she wouldn't mind that.


Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 31 comments I really enjoyed this book. I love how it is a ghost story without being a ghost story. Thérèse and Laurent were truly horrible people and their ending certainly was a fitting one, although I did feel sorry for Mme Raquin's having to sit through everything. (And that poor cat!)


Sarah | 29 comments Like Nicola I really felt it was like watching a play. The dramatic ending, with such an incredible build up. Although unlikely, it had a beautiful symmetry. I thought it was interesting watching the various stages of guilt eating them up – as Robin said, the passing through brutality, hedonism, etc… but as mentioned, was it really guilt??? If they could each have been free of the other and the consequences would they have suffered so? I don’t think so.

Thanks so much Nicola and to everyone else for such an insightful read. I think there’s a lot to be mined here and I’m looking forward to reading more Zola. I found it very intense. I think for me, and I might be wrong, but for me I was struck by the idea of sexual infatuation. How it happens, how it isn’t related at all to love and how quickly it can turn to hate.

And Suki -- that poor cat!


Nicola | 311 comments Robin wrote: "It's very cinematic in this section also, with the hand of Mme Raquin almost spelling out their doom. (But would anyone have believed it?)

The murderers try various tactics - brutality, hedonism, ..."


Ah 'the hand of retribution!' Spelling out Doom rather than striking them down with violence (but only because she couldn't). That was great theatre - her constant interruptions :-) She must have been cursing up a storm in her head!

Yes, they did really try everything including rewritting the events in their heads to try to throw all the blame on the other and make themselves out to be as innocent as they could. An impossible task in Laurents case so he had to settle for blaming Therese for manipulating him into it with sex.

And no, I'm sure that Madame was rescued but what happens to her now is anyones guess. I don't think she'll mind dying though, poor lady.


Nicola | 311 comments Suki wrote: "I really enjoyed this book. I love how it is a ghost story without being a ghost story. Thérèse and Laurent were truly horrible people and their ending certainly was a fitting one, although I did f..."

There was plenty of punishment all around really :-) I did feel sorry for Madame as well, she was well and truly paid out for her selfishness, and, oh yes the poor poor cat!


message 7: by Nicola (last edited May 30, 2017 08:30AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nicola | 311 comments SarahHannah wrote: Although unlikely, it had a beautiful symmetry.."

Yes - it delivered justice in the way that we all probably wish real life would do. And sadly doesn't :-)

I thought it was interesting watching the various stages of guilt eating them up – as Robin said, the passing through brutality, hedonism, etc… but as mentioned, was it really guilt??? If they could each have been free of the other and the consequences would they have suffered so? I don’t think so.

I don't think it was true guilt, not for the murder anyway. There was no actual repentance that I could see anyway. Perhaps other readers might have a different opinion though.

I was struck by the idea of sexual infatuation. How it happens, how it isn’t related at all to love and how quickly it can turn to hate.

I think that might be a Zola theme - it certainly came up in the only other book of his that I've read.


message 8: by Rafael (last edited May 30, 2017 12:43PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 270 comments Oh, poor cat. Who would expect that ending? surely not me. My first Zola and a great one.


message 9: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - added it

Rosemarie | 2803 comments Mod
Nicola, which other Zola book did you read? Each of the novels in the Rougon Macquart series has a different theme, but there are recurring characters in many of them.


message 10: by Wendel (last edited May 31, 2017 10:27AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Wendel (wendelman) | 229 comments Zola’s heroes are driven by their instincts: greed and lust mostly. This is also the case with Therese and Laurent. The interesting thing is that their remorse is something in the same order. It starts with fear, it is not the result of a conventional moral sense.

But it is more than just fear. Remorse is here almost a physical phenomenon. It’s not, I think, coming from Freud’s subconscious, though it's origin may be close to that. Something in line with evolutionary psychology’s ideas about the moral nature of human social nature (morality as rather a sister, than a daughter of religion).

But even if Zola’s novel has some correspondences with modern science, it does not strike me as very realistic (not to mention scientific). It seems rather an alternative morality play. From a literary point of view Zola may be telling us too much ('show, don’t tell'). But still, it's a great horror story.

So my feelings are somewhat mixed. The book reminded me also of one of Zola's friend Cezannne's early pictures (more mixed feelings):

description

(Paul Cezanne, The Murder, 1868, The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool - our book appeared a year earlier)


Nicola | 311 comments Rosemarie wrote: "Nicola, which other Zola book did you read? Each of the novels in the Rougon Macquart series has a different theme, but there are recurring characters in many of them."

L'Assommoir (The Dram Shop)


message 12: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - added it

Rosemarie | 2803 comments Mod
Nicola, that is a wonderful book, but oh so sad.


Nicola | 311 comments Rosemarie wrote: "Nicola, that is a wonderful book, but oh so sad."

Yes :-) I enjoyed it but it's like reading a Hardy or Wharton - I needed time once I'd finished to recover from being put through the emotional wringer.


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