The Cake (Maupassant)

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The Cake
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A woman's social circle revolved around the honor of cutting a cake at her gatherings, but as she aged, the privilege became less sought after, until a naive young man unknowingly accepted the task.

Madame Anserre was a beautiful and talented Parisian woman who hosted exclusive receptions for exceptional people, including artists, academicians, and ministers.

Madame Anserre — beautiful, sentimental, and once highly sought after; hostess of the gatherings.

Her husband, who was interested in agriculture, also hosted his own group of friends on the same day.

Monsieur Anserre — Madame Anserre's husband; interested in agriculture; content with his modest role.

The two groups rarely mingled, and the husband's group was referred to as the "labourers."

During these receptions, a brioche was served, and the honor of cutting it was given to one of the illustrious guests. This privilege was highly sought after and often accompanied by other marks of favor from Madame Anserre. Over time, the brioche became a symbol of power and prestige, and those who cut it were known as "the favorites of the brioche."

However, as time passed, the eagerness to cut the brioche waned, and it became more difficult for Madame Anserre to find someone willing to take on the task. Eventually, she had to cut it herself, which caused anxiety among the guests. One evening, a young and inexperienced man was introduced to the group, and he agreed to cut the brioche, unaware of the implications.

The Young Man — naive and unsophisticated; unknowingly accepts the task of cutting the cake.

Will you be so kind as to cut this brioche, dear Monsieur?

The other guests were amazed, and the young man received much attention and praise.

Bravo, young man!

At the next reception, the young man had learned the truth about the brioche and was too embarrassed to cut it again. Madame Anserre's husband took pity on him and suggested that a servant cut the brioche instead.

My dear, it would be kind of you not to disturb us. We are discussing agriculture. Let Baptiste cut up the cake.

From that day on, no one ever cut Madame Anserre's brioche again.