Moiron (Maupassant)

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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A schoolmaster was accused of poisoning his students, but his death sentence was commuted after a priest's intervention. Years later, the man confessed to the crimes as an act of revenge against God.

A schoolmaster named Moiron, who lived in the north of France, was well-respected and loved by the community. He was known for his intelligence, thoughtfulness, and religious nature.

Moiron — schoolmaster; religious, silent, vengeful, and resentful towards God.

After losing his own children to consumption, he began to shower his students with affection, buying them toys and sweets with his own money. However, five of his students suddenly died from a mysterious disease, which was initially believed to be caused by contaminated water. A year later, two more students died, and an investigation revealed that they had ingested fragments of glass and broken needles.

Moiron was arrested, but he claimed that an unknown enemy had planted the glass and needles in the sweets. Despite his good reputation and the lack of a clear motive, evidence continued to mount against him, including the discovery of a snuffbox full of ground glass in his possession. Moiron was eventually sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to hard labor after a priest intervened on his behalf.

If Moiron is decapitated, you will have allowed the execution of an innocent man.

The priest, who was the chaplain of the prison, had experience with criminals and was knowledgeable about their behavior.

The Priest — chaplain of the prison; knowledgeable, experienced with criminals.

Years later, Moiron was found dying in a miserable lodging. He confessed to a judge that he had indeed killed the children as an act of vengeance against God, whom he believed to be a cruel and capricious being who delighted in causing suffering and death.

It was I who killed the children—all—it was I—for vengeance!

Moiron claimed that he had lied to the priest in order to save his own life, but now that he was dying, he no longer feared God and wanted to reveal the truth. The judge, M. Maloureau, was a former Attorney-General under the Empire and was known for his intelligence and thoughtfulness.

M. Maloureau — narrator; former Attorney-General under the Empire; intelligent, thoughtful.

The judge was horrified by Moiron's confession and left him to die with the priest by his side.