Did anyone aid and abet Joseph Lambert in his crimes?
SIMENON SIMENON “LES COMPLICES” DEUXIEME PARTIE
Est-ce que quiconque a aidé et encouragé Joseph Lambert dans ses crimes ?
SIMENON SIMENON. "I COMPLICI" SECONDA PARTE
Qualcuno ha aiutato e incoraggiato Joseph Lambert nei suoi crimini?
In The Accomplices, no one truly qualifies as “a person who aids another in the accomplishment of an action.” That is, there is no accomplice to the protagonist―with the possible exception of one individual whose actions underscore the lack of ‘aid’ from others and do ‘aid’ Joseph Lambert in a peculiar way.
So, having already labeled Edmonde a non-accomplice, I here submit the others who make Joseph feel “as if everything was directed against him, as if already an enemy clan was forming.”
His wife Nicole essentially drives him away. Indeed, in the “gap created by insensitivity,” it is clear “nothing existed between them.” Although they talk, they do not communicate. She rejects him from her bed. Her three sisters are her life. In fact, Nicole “hadn’t become a Lambert wife; she remained a Fabre daughter.”
His brother Marcel is one of Joseph’s biggest fears because he will both “know” and “denounce” him. So, in Joseph’s response to Marcel’s inevitable confrontation, in which he “had never lied so well in his life,” he finds that “a lie had never cost him so much” because Marcel tells him “it would be better if he not come around at all.”
His maid Angèle is no help to him, either. An obstructionist in Joseph’s life, she considers him “a monster.” Worrying about her “hidden agenda,” he evades her.
The townsfolk are all familiar with Joseph and his fateful car. Fully expecting exposure, he anticipates that “no one would examine the case with equity.” A bartender expresses it best: if the car’s driver were thrown to the crowd, “there wouldn’t be a piece of him left after ten minutes.” Joseph believes everyone recognizes that he “walked, behaved, talked, and looked at people like a guilty person.” His daily contacts, his bridge partners and fellow workers, make him “a sort of exile.” The insurance agent, private detective, and policeman are “only waiting for an appropriate time to arrest him.”
But the person the most haunting of all is “the man with the goats.” Driving past him in flight from the accident scene, Joseph has “the intuition the danger would come from that man.” When the man walks by him after church, Joseph is sure “his intuition on the first day had not misled him.” When he spots the man leaning against a tree, Joseph sees “jubilation in his eyes.” When they simply exchange glances, the man’s look “expresses a diabolical joy.” In short, he terrorizes Joseph.
Given that none of the above ‘aid’ Joseph Lambert in any way, consider at last the exception that proves the rule, Joseph’s sole accomplice: Léa, his sometime mistress. She is someone he relaxes with and talks to, someone who does not disapprove or criticize. She is such a good, nonjudgmental listener that Joseph pays her “a magnificent compliment,” calling her “a good girl” and finally “a sister.” Léa’s helpfulness stimulates Joseph’s odd conception that he can achieve lasting psychological relief in an even better, more sustained “new universe” with Edmonde. His only hope, it is, ironically, the last one for this man with the “bitter aftertaste of a bad conscience.”
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