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lumière.' (185; And it is Winnie who speaks through the mouth of
Flora Fontanges. This woman already knows the four seasons of life
when an extra season is given to her, transfiguring everyday joys and
sorrows to make of them a violent form of speech that bursts on the
stage, in full light [154].) The expression 'cette femme' is purposely
ambivalent, designating both Winnie and Flora, who must assume for
a full month on stage the character's place in a sand pile, suggesting
the progressive entrapment imposed on women by their social role
and the passage of time.
The novel ends with the play's run, but after Maud and Raphaël have
accompanied Flora to the train station, we learn that she has in her pocket
a proposal to play yet another role, that of Mme Frola in Pirandello's
Chacun sa vérité (To each his own truth), which 'lui donne envie de rire
et de pleurer, à la fois' (189; makes her want to laugh and cry at once
[156]). To laugh, no doubt, because Frola is an anagram for Flora; to cry,
perhaps, because the role is that of a mother separated, like Flora, from
her daughter, each of whom has a different version of the truth. On a
deeper level, the play's title serves as an apt conclusion for the novel:
each person, both Flora and now Maud, must seek her own truth; and
each role, personal and theatrical (but can they be distinguished if all
the world's a stage?), also holds its own truth, the combination of which
leads beyond the confinement of a single role, out of Winnie's sand pile,
and towards the constellation of luminous points, like so many flowers
('flora') and angels ('anges') that constitute ('font') one's identity. 21
And, at the end of the novel, we finally find ourselves, perhaps, in a
position to complete the epigraph that preceded the opening pages:
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one [woman] in [her] time plays many parts…
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