Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Necklace: Questions for discussion/writing

Copyright © 1989 Balance Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
  1. What is the setting of the story? [The setting is in the late 19th century, in Paris, France.]
  2. What evidence do you find in the story that tells you this? [The names are French. Paris is named as the city. The Champs-Elysees is a famous section in Paris, France. The Seine is a river in France that flows through Paris. Madame, is a French word. The currency used is the franc.]
  3. Before the party, how would you describe Mr. And Mrs Loisel's financial position? Are they poor, middle income or rich? How do you know? [They are middle income. They don't have expensive clothing, a big bank account, etc., but they have enough to live on and apparently live in a middle income part of town--after Marsha loses the necklace, they move to "a less favorable side of town."]
  4. Is Mr. Loisel more accepting of his financial/social place in life than Mathilde? [Yes. He obtains the invitation primarily for her. Also, it isn't so important to him that they have expensive things. For instance, he suggests she wear flowers rather than jewelry.]
  5. Is Madame Forestier the type of person who would have been cruel to Marsha about losing the necklace? [No. She seems to be very kind and generous.]
  6. How would you describe Mr. Loisel's character? [He is a wimp. He lets the people around him dominant him.] What evidence do you find in the play that supports this? [When he gives his wife the invitation, she is not happy with it; he seems to be hurt but says nothing about it. His wife has her way in everything--first there is the money to buy a new dress, then he encourages her to borrow expensive jewelry, and finally he goes deeply into debt to buy a replacement for the lost necklace. Even though he knows these things are not wise, he goes along with her and purchases the necklace.]
  7. What two choices do the Loisels have when they realize the necklace is permanently lost? [They could tell Madame Forestier about losing the necklace and make arrangements to pay for it, OR they could do what they did--buy a new one and replace it.]
  8. Mathilde has changed in many ways by the end of the story. In what ways has she changed? [By the end of the story, she is no longer young and beautiful. She has the appearance of someone who has spent many years under both physical and emotional stress. She appears to be less concerned about appearances, because in the end she tells Madame Forestier about losing the necklace.]
  9. It is obvious that Mathilde is unhappy at the beginning of the story. Does her husband understand her unhappiness? [He probably understands her to a degree, because he does several things to try to make her happy. For instance: He brings the invitation home for her. He allows her to buy a nice dress. He helps her decide where she can get jewelry. He goes along with her wishes to replace the lost necklace.]
  10. At the end of the story we find out that the original necklace was made of phony diamonds. What do you thinkMathilde's reaction would have been had Jeanne told her this fact when she borrowed the necklace? [Mathilde would not have wanted to borrow the necklace. She would probably have picked something more expensive, even though it might not have been as beautiful.]
  11. When she loaned Mathilde the necklace, why didn't Madame Forestier tell her friend that it wasn't valuable? [She probably knew Mathilde well enough to know that it was very important for her to save face. She probably thought it would embarrass her friend, if she told Mathilde the necklace she wanted to borrow was made of phony diamonds.]
  12. In a story, the conflict often arises between two characters, usually the protagonist and the antagonist. If Mathilde is the protagonist, who is the antagonist? [Mathilde herself is the antagonist. She has such a strong desire for the "good life" that she cannot bring herself to tell her friend that she lost her necklace. By refusing to tell the truth about losing the necklace, Mathilde creates a situation which, in the end, is her undoing. All of Mathilde's problems might have been avoided, had she told Madame Forestier the truth.]
  13. When Mr. And Mrs. Loisel are about to leave the jewelry store, the jeweler says, "You will have a lifetime to enjoy these diamonds." This statement as an example of Irony. Explain the irony of this statement. [In making the statement, the jeweler means the beauty of the necklace will be hers to enjoy; butthe Loisels and the reader know that far from being a pleasure, the diamonds are likely to give her a lifetime of work and hardship-the opposite of the implied meaning of the statement.]
  14. What is the symbolic meaning of the paste necklace as it relates to Mathilde at the beginning of the story? [The necklace symbolizes the glittering world that Mathilde is not a part of but desperately wishes to be.]
  15. When the true value of the lost necklace is revealed, it is obvious that Madame Forestier owes Mathilde a great deal of money. Considering Madame Forestier's kind and generous nature, one could easily imagine her giving Mathilde the money. Mathilde could then afford to move in fashionable social circles and buy fashionable clothes of her own. Explain the irony of this. [Mathilde is no longer young and beautiful; she would look out of place fashionably dressed. If Mathilde should receive the money, the irony would be: Now that she can have beautiful things, Mathilde has no need for them.]
  16. What is the theme of "The Necklace"? [It is better to tell the truth and face the consequences than to try to protect one's pride by telling a lie.]

Additional Discussion/Writing Questions


  1. How would you define the word envy?
  2. How was Mathilde envious?
  3. How can envy be harmful to oneself or others?
  4. Have you ever experienced envy?


  1. Have you ever had a personal experience where you found it hard to tell the truth, or where telling a lie seemed the right thing to do?
  2. Is it hard to always be truthful?
  3. Why is it important to be truthful?
  4. How would Mathilde's life have been different if she had been truthful?
  5. What advantages does telling the truth have over telling a lie?


  1. How would you define "being content with your life"?
  2. How would you define "being discontented with your life"?
  3. Can discontent have a positive effect upon one's life? Explain.


  1. What responsibilities do you have when you borrow something?
  2. What responsibilities do you have when you lend something?
  3. How do you feel when you owe someone money and are overdue in repaying it?
  4. How do you feel when someone owes you money and is overdue in repaying it?

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