Throughout the story “The piece of string”, many would agree that the overall message shows the effects that gossip can have on someone and how others can be blind about the truth. This is demonstrated by the use of hyperbole, setting, and characterization. To begin, the act of no one believing in Maitre Hauchecome after trying to prove his innocence, causes him to encounter stress and be filled with anger as well as confusion. This is shown towards the end of the short story where his exhaustion and efforts that seem to be useless (in trying to prove the truth), leads him to death; “ He died in the first days of January and in the delirium of his death struggles, he kept claiming his innocence” (Maupassant, 35).
Although Maitre Hauchecome did result in dying, Maupassant expresses Hauchecome’s death as a form of exaggeration. Maitre Hauchecome did not physically die because of his stress in trying to prove his point, but it was displayed in this way to show that although gossip and blind suspicion cannot kill you, it can have a big impact on you and the way you proceed through life. Another way the effects of blind suspicion and gossip are demonstrated is through the setting. “The piece of string” takes place in a village of Goderville, in northern France. The plot of the story occurs on market day, in the public square of town. Maupassant unveils the setting with sensory information to show the hustle and bustle of the village. This was evident as Maitre Hauchecome “ was soon lost in the noisy and slowly moving crowd, which was busy with interminable bargainings” (Maupassant, 30). Mausspant describes the setting as noisy and busy with people crowding everywhere which can indicate that this village is small. Gossip is known to spread very quickly. Because the village is small, the gossip and rumour of Maitre Hauchecome taking the wallet is widely known by everyone in the village. This is what further caused Maitre Hauchecome’s reputation to ruin because of how fast this gossip had spread and affected his life.
Lastly, Maupassant uses characterization to indicate how blind suspicion can be displayed. The main characters throughout this story are the protagonist, Maitre Hauchecome and the antagonist, Maitre Malandain. Mausspant describes both characters as “being both good haters” (Mausspant, 30) which conveys that the two hate each other so much, they are good at it. This is one of the factors that helped Malandain suspect that Hauchecome was guilty of something. Since he and Hauchecome were already enemies and Hauchecome looked suspicious when he picked up the string, it was predictable that Malandain would find an opportunity to make things harder for Hauchecome. This was an example of blind suspicion as Malandain mistakes the suspicion of Hauchecomes action and does not state proof. Overall, the three narrative elements and literary device demonstrate the effects that gossip and blinds suspicion can have on someone just as it did for Maitre Hauchecome.