The Jewels by Guy de Maupassant

For study and discussion: (p.1032-1039)

A. Drawing Inferences How many times does Maupassant use a form of the word seem in his description of the girl? What inference can you make based on the use of this word?

  1. Maupassant uses the word seem twice and the phrase “gave the impression” once. These are clues that the girl’s appearance is in contrast to her true nature.

B.Drawing Inferences What inference can you make about the wife from her words and actions?

  1. She seems excessively and strangely pleased by her “imitation jewels” and gets a “deep and a secret pleasure” from them. Her sudden amused affection towards her husband seems puzzling and could be mocking.

C. Drawing Inferences What do you think might account for Madame Lantin’s amazing ability to stretch her husband’s salary?

  1. She may have been getting money from an outside source, or she may have been running debts.

D. Drawing Inferences Why do you suppose the jeweler wants to know where the necklace came from?

  1. Monsieur Lantin does know the true value of the jewels, so the jeweler suspects that they might be stolen.

E. Irony What is ironic or unexpected about Lantin’s discovery of the true value of the jewelry?

  1. Assuming the jewels to be fakes, Lantin expected the jewelry to worth much less.

F. Drawing Inferences What can you infer about the manner in which Madame Lantin came to possess the jewels?

  1. Lantin’s wife probably had a lover, or several lovers, who lavished her with expensive jewelry.

G. Drawing Inferences Why is Lantin feeling shameful?

  1.  Lantin feels that the jeweler has realized that Lantin’s wife was unfaithful.

H. Drawing Inferences What do you infer is the reason the clerks are laughing at Lantin?

  1. The clerk laughs because Lantin makes it obvious that his wife has been unfaithful not once, but many times.

I.Drawing Inferences Lantin and the jeweler both know that Madame Lantin did not save her money to invest in jewelry. Why does Lantin maintain this pretense?

  1. He maintains the pretense in order to save face; if he does not maintain the pretense, he will have admitted to having an unfaithful wife.

J. Irony How does Lantin change as he becomes wealthy? What is ironic about the way he feels now?

  1. He spends money extravagantly, but he does not seem happy about it.

K.Irony What is ironic about the description of Lantin’s second wife? (Would you expect a virtuous woman to make him unhappy?)

  1. It is ironic that in his second marriage Lantin gets what he wants “a faithful wife”, but that he is miserable.

Respond and Think Critically (p. 1040)

  1. Describe the Lantins’ married life, including how they feel about each other and their economic circumstances.

They are quite fond of each other. Lantin’s wife makes Lantin’s salary stretch to cover little luxuries.

  1. How does the death of his wife affect Monsieur Lantin’s standard of living?

He cannot figure out how to make ends meet, as his wife had done.

  1. What kind of person does Madame Lantin seem to be? What is she really?

She seems devoted and virtuous; in reality, she was quite unfaithful.

  1. Look back at the inferences you made while reading the story. Add a circle above each “Inference” circle in your chart. In this circle, revise any inferences that turned out to be incorrect.

Answers vary.

5-b; 6- c; 7- d; 8- e; 9- a.

10. Interpret Why do you think Lantin hesitates to accept the eighteen thousand francs?

He is embarrassed to profit from his wife’s adultery and ashamed that people will know he is a cuckold.

11. Extend Maupassant used fiction to examine social issues. With what particular problem does “The Jewels” deal?

Maupassant examines middle class attempts to climb the social hierarchy by living or pretending to live like the privileged class.

12. Draw Conclusions What does Maupassant suggest about the connection between virtue and happiness?

Maupassant seems to suggest that a virtuous life does not necessarily lead to happiness.

13.Analyze Re-read the last two paragraphs of the story. What is ironic about how Lantin changes after he sells the jewels?

Lantin now enjoys the theater. He no longer seems to care about his own virtue and carouses with prostitutes. He marries a virtuous woman but ends up unhappy.

14.Evaluate A symbol is a person, place, or thing that has meaning in itself and also stands for something else. What do the jewels symbolize in this story

Ironically, although the jewels are real, they symbolize the falseness and betrayal of Lantin’s wife.


  1. What do you learn about the girl from the account of her background? Does this description give you a sense of her character?

She is middle class but poor; is beautiful, charming, and “decent”; and seems angelic. The description is brief and sketchy; we do not yet see her in action.

  1. Lantin begs his wife to find a “lady of her acquaintance” for her visits to the theater, which she does, reluctantly. Why is Lantin grateful to her for this?

He is tired from a long day at the office, and he is bored by the theater. He is grateful to be excused from her evening entertainment.

  1. When Lantin’s wife says, “I like imitation jewelry. It’s my only vice,” how is this statement ironic?

After reading the full story, we can recognize this line as an example of irony because Lantin’s wife is wearing real jewelry, and because her vice is adultery, not vanity.

  1. When Lantin discovers the true value of the jewels, he asks himself, “But a present from whom? And why was it given to her?” But he does not answer the questions. Why?

He is too devastated by the possibility that his wife was unfaithful; he is not ready to voice that suspicion.

  1. In the last five paragraphs of the story, Lantin lies twice about his “inheritance,” the value going up one hundred thousand francs each time. Why?

Perhaps he hopes that the richer he feels, the less his wife’s betrayal will hurt him.

  1. Lantin muses on how lucky rich people are, and then he says, “Oh, if only I were rich!” do you think that, once he has sold the jewelry and become rich, he will feel lucky?

He is probably too bitter about his first wife and too miserable with his second wife to feel lucky.