Short Story #121: The Late Bernard by Alexandre Arnoux
Title: The Late Bernard
Author: Alexandre Arnoux
SummaryThe narrator starts by addressing an official such as a judge or religious leader ("Worship"). The man explains that he did in fact commit murder but that he is clearly the persecuted person. He moves into explaining that he married his wife but her cousin was fiercely jealous as he had desired to marry her. The cousin, Bernard, stalks and visits them constantly. He tells the wife that the narrator is unfaithful and poisons her against him. Eventually tired of Bernarnd, the narrator begins to play mind games with Bernard about his health and how he looks sick. Bernard is a bit of a hypochondriac and the narrator plays this to the hilt. Through these tactics, he also convinces Bernard to drink and soon enough, the man dies. The narrator is ecstatic about this and ready to move on with his life. While the funeral is planned, he gets out of it by saying he needs to be elsewhere for his job. While en route to his job, unfortunately, he keeps crossing paths with the funeral parade for Bernard. He becomes increasingly frustrated because he will be both late and is rather glad Bernard is dead. So happy, that he forgets to show his grief like everyone around him. By the third time, they grow angry enough to attack him. In the altercation an older woman falls and breaks her kneecap fro which he is guilty. He ends the story by connecting it all on and blaming Bernard.
ReflectionThe story has all the workings of Poe and feels a bit like The Tell Tale Heart and The Black Cat, wherein the egocentric character cannot believe how wronged he has been by the others around him. The three characters we are directly introduced to all have quirks. Clearly, the narrator has his issues as does Bernard, but even the wife is so easily swayed by his cousin whose intentions are clear. I haven't read anything of Arnoux's before but this makes me wonder if I should seek him around a bit more.
Short Story #121 out of 365
Rating: 4 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read: 4/27/2014
Source: Great French Short Stories edited by M. E. Speare. The World Publishing Company, 1943. You can find this story and others in this anthology at this resource.
For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.
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