The Quest for Total Peace: The Political Thought of Roger Martin Du Gard

By R. Jouejati | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III

Les Thibault-Le Pénitencier

Claude-Edmonde Magny, in her study of Les Thibault, says that Martin du Gard does not write about one person, one family, but about the true structure of society. This is reconstituted through the history of a small group, but it is also the picture of life and society as a whole. 1 Such a deductive method has of course its limitations. That the behaviour of individuals or small groups can be magnified so as to serve as symbols of the possible behaviour of society as a whole is a premise conceivable in pure logic. But the social structure is actually far more complex and to reduce it to pictures and patterns would certainly miss the essentials. Martin du Gard can, on no account, emulate Tolstoi, Stendal and Melville. At best, he can illustrate, by concrete episodes, their global descriptions of society. Indeed, the second part of 'Les Thibault'-le Pénitencier-is one such illustration.

Here Martin du Gard confronts its characters with certain existing institutions and registers their reactions. This close impact does not allow them to escape issues, but forces them to make definite decisions. The direction of their future behaviour begins to take shape, showing their initial reactions. Henceforth, the reader traces the evolution of their characters as being influenced by society, thus explaining the complex interplay of the individual and his environment.

The action of this part of the novel is centred on le pénitencier, the reform school at Crouy, to which Jacques is sent by Mr. Thibault, whose outspoken purpose is to 'break the will' of his rebellious son. He wishes to protect him from harmful temptations, expelling his evil tendencies by the

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The Quest for Total Peace: The Political Thought of Roger Martin Du Gard
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - The Quest for Truth 7
  • Chapter I - Du Gard's Early Career 9
  • Notes 17
  • Part II - The Ills of Traditional Society 21
  • Chapter II - Les Thibault-Le Cahier Gris 23
  • Chapter III - Les Thibault-Le Pénitencier 29
  • Chapter IV - Les Thibault-La Belle Saison 35
  • Chapter V - Les Thibault-La Consultation 41
  • Notes 45
  • Chapter VI - Les Thibault-La Sorellina 47
  • Chapter VII - Les Thibault-La Mort Du Père 51
  • Notes 55
  • Part III - The Ideal Order 57
  • Chapter VIII - L'Eté 1914-The Bases of a Political Philosophy 59
  • Notes 70
  • Chapter IX - L'Eté 1914-The Characteristics of Du Gard's New Order 73
  • Notes 84
  • Chapter X - Evaluation of Du Gard's Contributions to Political Thought 87
  • Conclusion 105
  • Bibliography 109
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