The story “Without a family” belongs to the pen of the famous French writer Hector Malo (1830-1907). G. Little is the author of many books. Some of them were written for children and youth, but none brought him such popularity and recognition as the story “Without a family”, published in 1878.
In the story a lot of rightfully attracts the attention of young readers: both an entertaining story, and the unusual nature of the fate of heroes, and a diverse social background, and, finally, a lively, intelligible speech by the author. This book has long been a popular tool in the study of French in schools.
“Without a family” is a story about the life and adventures of the boy Remi, who for a long time does not know who his parents are, and wanders around strangers like an orphan.
The writer with great skill tells about the life of Remy, his friends, the good mother of Barberen, the noble Vitalis, a devoted friend Mattia, and enemies – cruel Garafoli, dishonest Driskole, the insidious James Milligan. Much attention is given to G. Little description of animals – Duschki monkeys, Kapi dogs, Dolce and Zerbino, which are also full-fledged characters of the story. Images of animals are immediately remembered. First of all, this refers to the poodle Kapi.
Carefully following the fate of Remy, mentally traveling with him around the country, the reader learns a lot about the life of the French people, about the customs and customs of the time. Peasants, miners, roving actors, scammers and honest people, rich and poor – all these characters, making up the motley background, simultaneously have great independent interest. “Without the family” gives a variety of material that depicts the hard life of the people in a capitalist country. It is this side of the book that will undoubtedly be instructive for Soviet children.
G. Little shows that in the society in which Remy and his friends live, everyone is ruled by money. The thirst for profit pushes people towards monstrous crimes. This circumstance in many ways determined the fate of the hero of the book. Family relations, the notion of duty, nobility – all this fades into the background before the desire to master wealth. A convincing example is the figure of James Milligan. Without stopping to take possession of his brother’s property, he wants at any cost to get rid of his heirs – his nephews. One of them, Arthur, is a physically weak child, and his uncle cynically hopes for his early death. More worried about his other – Remy. Therefore James Milligan with the help of the villain Driskol steals the boy from his parents.
The writer says that in the world of owners, where everything is sold and bought, children are bought and sold as things. Sold Remy, sold to Mattia. The owner, who bought the child, considers himself entitled to starve him, to beat him, to mock him. That’s why for the eternally hungry, constantly battered Mattia – the greatest happiness to get to the hospital, and healthy and strong Remi envies Arthur, the patient, bedridden, but always well-fed and surrounded by attention.
Family in the representation of Remy personifies not only the love and care of parents, it is the only reliable support, protection from the vicissitudes of a harsh, unjust fate.
Much in the story exposes the vices of the capitalist system,... characterizes the hard life of the people. The working conditions of miners are unbearable, the prosperity of ordinary people living by their labor is unsteady and fragile. Lost employment, Barberen can not even dream of any benefit: neither the owner of the enterprise nor the state are interested in his fate. When an honest toiler Aken is ruined, he has nowhere to wait for help. Moreover, he ends up in prison, because he is not in a position to fulfill his previous monetary agreement.
Police, court, prisons – everything is turned against ordinary people. A vivid illustration of this is the arrest of Vitalis: “guardian of order”, the policeman involves him into a scandal, arrests, and the court awards an innocent musician to imprisonment. The fate of Vitalis is a convincing confirmation of how little in bourgeois society people are valued for their real merits; this is another story of the loss of talent in the world of gain. Once a famous artist, a revered singer, having lost his voice, he is forced to engage in vagrancy and dies in need and obscurity.
One can cite other examples from the story that reveal to the reader a bleak picture of the life of ordinary people in France and expose the mores of bourgeois society, where the destinies of people are determined by money and nobility, and not by genuine human dignity.
G. Malo was undoubtedly an attentive observer of life, but he had a drawback inherent in many bourgeois writers. Summarize what he saw, draw the necessary conclusions, he did not manage to fully reveal the subject he touched. Many truthfully told events, correctly noted facts do not receive in the story the correct explanation. This, of course, was affected by the narrowness of the writer’s social views, his inability or unwillingness to speak with a consistent denunciation of the bourgeois world. G. Little seems to be afraid of those conclusions, which may lead the reader to the instructive history of Remy.
Quite often, truthfully portraying the hard life of the people, standing up for the defense of their hero, who was the victim of a world of gain and money, G. Little aspires to classify the class vices of the bourgeoisie only to certain “evil people” – such as, for example, James Milligan, and, conversely, with affection remembers about such “kind” rich people as Mrs. Milligan. This determined the improbability of the individual character traits of the hero. So, Remy, a smart, energetic boy, never thinks about the injustice of his own position and the position of his loved ones; he without any protest protests humbly and suffers all the hardships that fall to his lot. Trying to soften the impression of the picture he painted, the writer seeks to bring his heroes to well-being, reward virtue and punish vice at any price.
But all these shortcomings do not deprive the book of G. Little great cognitive value. Many years have passed since the day the story was written. During this time, the oppression of capital in France was even more ruthless, the life of the people is even harder and more powerless. But the story Without a Family will undoubtedly be read with interest as a true story about the life and trials of a lonely child, about the plight of ordinary people from the people in a capitalist society.