The Christening (Maupassant)

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The Christening
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A priest participated in his nephew's christening and felt a deep, unknown tenderness for the child, leading him to sob beside the baby's cradle after the celebration.

In a small village, a family gathered to celebrate the christening of a two-month-old baby. The men waited outside the farm gates, dressed in their Sunday best, while the women prepared themselves and the baby inside. The father impatiently called for the mother and the baby to hurry up as the church bell rang, signaling the start of the christening ceremony.

Coom quick, Mélina; t’bell’s ringin’. Women, they bean’t never ready first.

The family, led by the baby's parents and grandparents, made their way to the church, followed by a crowd of children and a dog. At the church, the baby's uncle, a priest, performed the christening ceremony and named the child Prosper-César.

The Priest — uncle of the baby; tall, slim, strong, with red hair; tender-hearted, emotional.

After the ceremony, the family returned to their home for a celebratory dinner. The priest, who had never had a child of his own, was fascinated by the baby and held him throughout the meal. One of the grandmothers teased the priest as he carried his nephew, suggesting that he might wish he could have a child of his own.

Aren’t ye ever sorry, passon, that ye’ll never have one of your own?

The family continued to eat, drink, and make merry. The baby's mother eventually took him to another room to sleep.

The Mother — young, tall, strong, fair, and smiling; caring, protective.

Later, she went to check on him and was startled to hear someone in the room with the baby. Frightened, she ran back to the dining room and told her family what she had heard.

The baby's father, along with other family members, went to investigate.

The Father — tall young peasant, not yet deformed by labor; about 30 years old; impatient, jovial.

They found the priest on his knees beside the baby's cradle, sobbing. His forehead rested on the pillow next to the baby's head, overcome with emotion at the sight of the innocent, sleeping child.