The Return (Maupassant)

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The Return
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A fisherman's wife, remarried after her first husband was presumed dead, faced a dilemma when he returned after being held captive for years, forcing the family to make a difficult decision.

In a small village by the sea, a fisherman named Lévesque lived with his wife, Madame Martin, and their five children.

Lévesque — second husband; fisherman; red-faced, thick red beard, strong neck; calm and decisive.

Madame Martin had been married to another fisherman named Martin, who had disappeared at sea ten years prior, leaving her with two children. After waiting for him for a decade, she married Lévesque and had three more children with him.

Madame Martin — wife of both Martin and Lévesque; strong woman; mother of five children; emotional and conflicted.

One day, an old beggar appeared near their home, making the family uneasy. The beggar revealed himself to be Martin, Madame Martin's first husband, who had survived the shipwreck and had been held captive by African savages for twelve years.

Martin — first husband; fisherman; worn and wrinkled face; suffered greatly; calm and simple.

He had been rescued by an English traveler and had returned to his village to find his family.

Is it you, husband? Martin, my poor Martin, it's you!

The two men, Martin and Lévesque, were unsure of what to do in this complicated situation. They decided to consult the village rector for advice. In the meantime, Martin met his two daughters from his marriage to Madame Martin, who were now grown up. The family was emotional and confused about the sudden return of the long-lost husband and father.

I'll do as you wish. I don't want to wrong you.

As they went to seek advice, Lévesque and Martin stopped at a local café for a drink. The barman recognized Martin and greeted him calmly. The story ends with the unresolved situation of the two husbands and their shared family, leaving the reader to wonder about the fate of the characters and the difficult decisions they must make.