The Hairpin (Maupassant)

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The Hairpin
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man obsessed with a woman spent years working tirelessly to amass a fortune, intending to return to her for one final year of passion before his life ended.

A man traveled to a distant, fertile, and scorching seacoast, where he was told he could find hospitality at the house of a Frenchman living in an orange grove. The Frenchman had arrived ten years ago and had amassed a fortune through hard work and determination. The traveler met the Frenchman, who welcomed him warmly and invited him to stay the night.

The Narrator — narrator; traveler who encounters the man with the hairpin.
The Man — wealthy, hardworking, and obsessed with a woman from his past; melancholic and determined; has a big beard and a little bald.

During dinner, they discussed Paris and the people they both knew. The Frenchman asked about a woman named Jeanne de Limours, and the traveler assured him that she was still alive and beautiful.

Is Jeanne de Limours still alive?

The Frenchman revealed that he had been passionately in love with Jeanne, despite her infidelity and the fact that she had ruined him financially. He described her as the epitome of the feminine, with an irresistible charm that drove him mad with desire and jealousy.

The Frenchman had left Paris and worked tirelessly to rebuild his fortune, with the goal of returning to Jeanne once he had amassed a million francs. He planned to spend one glorious year with her, after which he believed his life would be over.

When the million is complete, I shall sell all and depart.

The traveler listened to the Frenchman's story, struck by the power of love and obsession that had driven him to such lengths.

In the end, the Frenchman admitted that he didn't know what would happen after his year with Jeanne, but he was willing to do anything to be with her again, even if it meant becoming her servant. The story illustrated the all-consuming nature of love and the lengths to which people will go to be with the ones they desire.