This is a story that takes place in Paris and talks about two main characters, M. Lantin, who works at the office of the Minister of the Interior, and his wife, who? s name is never revealed throughout the story. The story begins telling us the two met at M. Lantin?s work place and that he fell immediately in love this young innocent girl who "seemed to be the very ideal of that pure good woman to whom every young man dreams of entrusting his future" (2).
The story?s plot has two different stories combined into one. The writer first walks us through six year of happiness they live together and clearly states M. Lantin wife?s passion for theater and fake jewelry. She was a housewife who maintained her household very well and provided M. Lantin with luxurious life style.
On one cold winter night, his wife went to the opera and came back home freezing, she had a "bad cough and died eight days later from pneumonia" (14). Mr. Lantin was heartbroken and spent endless nights remembering his good wife. He didn?t change or move any of her belonging for they reminded him of her. The story should have ended here and made a sad ending; however the writer goes on to describe M. Lantin life change.
The author tells us that M. Lantin was unable to continue living the luxurious life on his income. This was very odd since his wife was able to manage the household for both of them and she did not work. This was the first warning sign that struck me as a reader and got me to think more about Mr. Lantin's wife. The interesting part to me was "one morning that he happened to find himself without a cent in his pocket and [that he had to wait] a whole week before he could draw his monthly salary" (19). This surely shows the reader that his wife had another income coming in besides his own income.
Broke and in debt, M. Lantin finds no other alternative than to sell his deceased wife?s fake jewelry. He went through all her belonging and got her favorite piece of jewelry, the big pearl necklace that she use to tease him with and tries to sell it. He goes shamelessly into a jewelry store to sell what he believes is an exquisitely well made fake pearl necklace. The jeweler than tells him that the necklace is worth between twelve and fifteen thousand francs. It was a huge surprise for M. Lantin for him though the jewelers estimate was inept, and move to the next jewelry store. This was another clue the author clearly tells us that Mr. Lantin?s salary was three thousand and five hundred francs yearly.
As Mr. Lantin goes into the next jewelry store the jeweler confirms that the big pearl necklace is real by telling him that it was sold from his store for twenty five thousand francs and would buy it from him for eighteen thousand francs. The jeweler looks into his register and affirms that the necklace was "sent to the address of Madame Lantin, 16 Rue des Martyrs, on July 20th, 1876." (37) The jeweler asks if he can keep the piece of jewelry for a day for inspection.
It becomes clear that Mr. Lantin?s wife was a courtesan; even though it is not stated in the story, but he begins to describe Mr. Lantin's feelings as being betrayed by his love of his life and the suffering he went through.
The next day Mr. Lantin wanders the streets in grief and in thought of becoming rich fiddles his mind. Not having any money and not eaten anything since the jeweler told him about the necklace, he then walked back into jewelry store and collected the money. The jeweler greets him with a smile and gives him his money. On his way out M. Lantin turns around and tells the jeweler that he has more jewelry like the necklace to sell, right when the jeweler acknowledges and accepts the offer "one of the clerks rushed out to laugh at his ease while another kept blowing his nose as hard as he could" (58) as in a way of hiding a laugh.
This part struck me as a reader and showed that the jeweler and his clerks