Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
appearance of the maids who maintained them (115). This seemingly
general conclusion of sociological import takes on personal and psy-
chological significance as it leads Flora to a recognition about her own
past and her debt to her adoptive family: 'Pierrette Paul échappe à son
destin. Elle ne sera jamais bonne à tout faire. N'a-t-elle pas été adoptée
en bonne et due forme par M. et Mme Édouard Éventurel?' (116;
Pierrette Paul escapes her destiny. She will never be a maid in some-
one's house. Has she not been adopted, according to proper procedures,
by M. and Mme Édouard Éventurel? [94]). That fate of the poor female
orphan, which would have included losing one's own last name (116),
as in marriage or the convent, is tantamount to losing one's life, as in
the case of Aurore, a maid found raped and killed in a park in 1915,
whose story Flora and Raphaël now imagine and act out (117-21). Here
again a place, la Grande-Allée, has given rise to a role coupled with a
revelation, but unlike the other roles, historical or theatrical, this one is
based on true life and is nearer to Flora's time, as she draws nearer to
the truths of her own past in the final part of the novel. 16
Down to the Depths and Back up Again
When the novelist sends Raphaël away to look for Maud in the sur-
rounding countryside, thus leaving Flora alone, the final stage is set for
her unwilling and unwitting quest of the past, through the places that
house its heretofore repressed memories: 'Elle éprouve sa solitude très
fort. L'instant ne la porte plus. De là à retourner en esprit à la maison de
l'Esplanade, comme s'il n'était plus en son pouvoir de n'y pas aller, ap-
pelée par son enfance vivace et têtue.' (123; She feels intensely alone.
The moment no longer supports her. From here she has no choice but to
return in spirit to the house on the Esplanade, as if it were no longer in
her power not to go there, summoned by her indestructible, stubborn
childhood [100].) The novelist again calls on the reader to recall that 'la
maison de l'Esplanade' was that of the 'fausse grand-mère,' whose story
we finally learn in full, since Flora will now raise it to consciousness.
As Flora, no longer resisting remembrance, sees herself in her grand-
mother's mansion on the elegant Esplanade, we finally learn that her
'escape' (30, 38) was from a fire at the Saint-Louis orphanage in 1927
(124). We also discover that she had hoped to reforge her identity in her
newfound family: 'Depuis toujours, elle est sans racines et rêve d'un
grand arbre, ancré dans la nuit de la terre … son arbre généalogique et
son histoire personnelle … La petite fille, sans père ni mère, assise aux
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