lunedì 20 agosto 2018

SIMENON SIMENON. THE MOTHER GEORGES HAD NEVER HAD / 2

Madame Baron in “The Lodger” is not like Madame Simenon 

SIMENON SIMENON. LA MERE QUE GEORGES N’AVAIT JAMAIS EUE / 2 
Madame Baron dans “Le Locataire” n’est pas comme Madame Simenon
SIMENON SIMENON. LA MADRE CHE GEORGES NON HA MA AVUTO / 2
Madame Baron ne "Il Pensionante" non è come Madame Simenon

Now, let’s look at how Madame Baron continues to care for Elieunlike Madame Simenon did for Georges—after she knows about his awful crimes: 
Upon discovering young Antoinette in his bedroom and him in his pajamas, Madame Baron chases her off and confronts him. But he challenges her negative reaction by crying, pounding the wall, and calling her “Mother!” Next, she happens upon a letter, “although she no longer had the need to read it,” that makes his prior crimes undeniablobvious. Now, the shocked woman, “who has never had the least suspicion suddenly understands everything,” insists that Elie “pack his things and disappear immediately” or she will call the police. 
Yet, Elie continues to play the Mother! card, and she accepts it quickly, realizing this “raging child” is “no longer a man” but “a little boy.” Her attitude completely changed, she encourages him: “You can still escape….” And so begins her active effort to help Elie stay free. It seems probable that Henriette Simenon would have reacted differently and called the cops. 
Once back in the kitchen, “it is not the onions that make her cry, rather it is her recognition that “they cut off heads” for what Elie has done. “Her emotions triggered,” understanding he “feels safer in the house than anywhere else,” she switches gears and schemes to keep him hidden there. First, she burns the traceable money she realizes will condemn himThen, she enlists the aid of the one already suspicious boarder: “You believe we can save him also, don’t you?” adding, No one will think of our little house….” He agrees to extend her plea for cooperation in keeping quiet to the other borders. She orders Antoinette to intercept the daily newspapers and cut out articles to prevent her unaware but law-abiding husband from learning what is going on and turning the fugitive in. Finally, she begs Elie to “stay in his bedroom” and “to keep quiet” whenever in the kitchen, where “your presence hurts me and “she cries in silence.” Her groundwork laid, mother hen Madame Baron gathers her “little flock” around the kitchen table for the wait. Although anticipating his apprehension soon—“I think it’s over”—she asks the others, “Is there any other way to…” When a boarder suggests Elie should put a bullet in his head, she moans, pours a glass of rum, and sobs, “Are you all sure we can’t do something?  
After the scuffle and arrest, Elie’s face covered in blood, his nose bleeding, Madame Baron cries out, “Wait. He can’t leave like this.” She gets a wet towel and wipes the blood off his face, but the police will not let her treat his bloody nose. They take him away, leaving her overwhelmed as her “howling resounds” in the kitchen. 
Simenon’s final chapter sadly underscores Madame Baron’s maternal dedication. As Elie is herded onto the ship bound for the penal colony, two women show up, independently and unknown to each other, hoping for a final farewell. One is his sister Esther in gray, and the other, a mysterious woman in black. Esther gets a glimpse of him in chains and handcuffs through binoculars, but Madame Baron only gets to imagine what he might look like… 

David P Simmons 

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