What complex and ambiguous feelings caused in me the story of P. Mérimée “Mateo Falcone”! Following the severe code of honor of Corsica, the protagonist of the work has lived the life of his ten-year-old son, who committed a kind of betrayal.
Mateo Falcone is handsome: he has black hair like curly hair, a huge nose, thin lips, a face of tanned skin and large, lively eyes. This man was famous for his accuracy and strong unbending character. His name was famous in Corsica, and Mateo Falconet was considered “as good a friend as a dangerous enemy.”
Son Mateo Falcone, Fortunato, just ten years old, but he is a clever, intelligent and attentive boy, “the hope of the family and heir of the name.” He is still small, but you can leave the house on him already.
Once, when the parents were not at home, Fortunato met face-to-face with the fugitive who was pursued by voltigeurs. The fugitive was wounded and decided to turn to the good name Falcone in the hope that here he would be helped to wait out the danger. For payment Fortunato hid this man in a haystack.
Calmly, cold-bloodedly and mockingly, Fortunato is met by the pursuing shooter, led by the formidable sergeant Gamba, a distant relative of Falcone. Confident that a glorious name will protect him, the boy tries very long to convince the soldiers that he has not seen anyone. However, many facts tell the sergeant that the fugitive is hiding nearby, somewhere around here,
Parents Fortunato – the proud Mateo with his wife – appear when the fugitive is already bound and disarmed. When the sergeant explains to Mateo that in the capture of the “big bird” he was very helped by the little Fortunato, Mateo realizes that the son has committed treason. His glorious name and reputation are disgraced; contempt is full of the captive’s words, thrown over his shoulder: “The house of a traitor!” Mateo understands that soon everyone will know about this event, besides the sergeant promises to mention the name of Falcone in the report. Burning shame and resentment embrace Mateo’s heart when looking at his son.
Fortunato had already realized his mistake, but his father was adamant. Without listening to explanations and not accepting apologies, Mateo with a loaded gun carries his to death frightened son in poppies – thick undergrowth of a bush.
The denouement of the novel is cruel and unexpected, although it could be foreseen. Mateo Falcone, waiting for the boy to read all the prayers known to him, kills him.
The harsh laws taught Mateo that the payment for betrayal can only be one – death, even if it is only the offense of the child. Committing a crime in the eyes of his father, the boy was deprived of the right to correct the error. And it’s not that Mateo Falconet is an evil or a bad father, but that our concepts of love and hatred, honor and dishonor, justice and crime are too different.
I do not approve of Fortunato, but the irresistibility and uncompromising nature of his father’s actions frightens me.
In the novel by P. Merimee there are no uniquely positive or unambiguously negative heroes. The author tells us that life is complex and multicolored, teaches us to see not only the results, but also the causes of the deeds done.