A Simple Heart and Other Stories

"A Simple Heart"

"A Simple Heart", or Un cœur simple or Le perroquet in French, is a story about a servant girl named Felicité. After her one and only love Théodore purportedly marries a well-to-do woman to avoid conscription, Felicité quits the farm where she works and heads for Pont-l'Évèque, where she picks up work in a widow's house as a servant. She is very loyal, and easily lends her affections to the two children of her mistress, Mme Aubain. She gives entirely to others; although many take advantage of her, she is unaffected.

She has no husband, no children, and no property, and is reliant on her mistress to keep her; she is uneducated, which bars her visits to the Church; her death is virtually unnoticed. Despite her life being seemingly pointless, she has within her the power to love, which she does even when she does not receive it in return. She also carries within her a yearning, a majestic quasi-religious sensibility which finds its apotheosis in the deification, as she dies, of her pet parrot who floats above her deathbed masquerading as the Holy Ghost. She lives a simple, unexamined life.


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