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Written by Dio Sm
The wind of the carnival
Vianne starts her story with the image of coming to the town with the wind. She describes that wind very figuratively; it was the wind “laden with the hot greasy scents of frying pancakes and sausages and powdery-sweet waffles cooked on the hotplate right there by the roadside, with the confetti sleeting down collars and cuffs and rolling in the gutters like an idiot antidote to winter.” The reader seems to see, smell, taste that wind, that makes the atmosphere of the carnival, which takes place there; that makes an excitement in the crowd “which line the narrow main street, necks craning to catch sight of the crepe-covered char with its trailing ribbons and paper rosettes.”
Describing the town
The author vividly describes Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, where the story takes place. Vianne at first sees it as a small town, “two hundred souls at most, no more than a blip on the fast road between Toulouse and Bordeaux. Blink once and it's gone.” Some coloured houses, few lateral streets, a church “aggressively whitewashed”, some farms with gardens and “dead in the thin February sun but awaiting triumphant resurrection by March.” The description draws in the reader’s mind the picture of a common, insignificant, some kind of plain town, but at the end of description the reader sees a kind of metaphor: the town, as well as the sun, waits for the resurrection.
The narrator clearly highlights the church, among the landmarks in the town. It’s white, stands out “sharply in the morning sunlight, rising from a hollow of dark shopfronts.” Other buildings, statues, trees are like in the shade of this church, “above their discreetly shuttered facades the white tower is a beacon.” Thus the author wants to distinguish this place among others, to show its role in the town. From the beginning of the story the reader understands that the church will play some important role in the plot: it attracts the attention from the first sight.
Vianne tells about the moment when Josephine, one of the citizens, stolen one of the sweets in her chocolate shop. The woman’s “rough quick hands reddened with housework. One stays lodged in the pit of the stomach, the other flutters briefly at her side like a gunslinger's swift draw, and the little silver packet with the rose – marked ten francs – has gone from the shelf and into the pocket of her coat.” The description of seemingly so small action is so vivid that the reader seems to be in that moment there, in that room, sees that quick hand, feels the woman’s fear of being “bottled”.
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