The Collected Stories of Colette Characters

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The Collected Stories of Colette Summary & Study Guide Description

The Collected Stories of Colette Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on The Collected Stories of Colette by Colette.

Coletteappears in Various Stories

Colette is by far the most important character in her stories. Although it is difficult to say that she represents herself accurately, she gives a uniform and convincing self-portrait that does not change, even from her very early stories to her later ones. In these stories, she is level-headed and has a strong sense of humor. When a half-crazy woman asks her repeatedly to read her own writing, Colette cannot help mocking a pretentious pattern in her speech. At the same time, she presents herself as an early feminist. While she does train her daughter to sew, she does not like to do it, and she has a hard time accepting the traditional values of the day. This is also reflected in her willingness to confront unpleasant, even taboo subjects, and place herself in unseemly situations. She is, for example, willing to visit the recent victim of an abortion, even though her friends and colleagues are not willing to associate themselves with that procedure during this time period. However, she is not infallible. For example, she does not end up going by herself to visit her colleague. Overall, Colette creates a vision of herself as an extremely curious person, one who is often drawn back into past memories and one with many friends, from whom she draws the inspiration for her stories.

Valentineappears in Various Stories

Valentine is a good friend of Colette's and appears quite a bit, especially in the early stories. Valentine is a kind-hearted woman, whose company Colette seems to enjoy. However, she has a tendency to be slightly superficial and shallow, overly preoccupied with fashions and other people's lives. She has certain failings, as well, that complicate her character. For example, she is unwilling to return a painting, even when it was bequeathed to her through a strange series of confused circumstances. Like many women of her time, Valentine is preoccupied with appearing young, and is baffled when her lover breaks up with her because she is too painted and false-looking; she does not understand the appeal of a "natural" look. In these stories, she often has her hair cut and is buying new clothes, trying to be very fashionable and find the most flattering thing. She and Colette also pursue other interests, and go to the country for grape-harvests and drives. Valentine appears in later works, as well, but only as a peripheral character. In the opening story of the Valentine series, Colette breaks off their friendship; however, the fact that this letter is followed by numerous stories of their time together, the reader wonders how serious Colette was about ending the friendship.

Colette's Daughter and Goddaughterappears in Various Stories

These two characters, while presented as mostly separate from each other in different stories, have similar properties which unite them. Together, they represent the youngest women in the book, and thus Colette's vision of the future for women. Her god-daughter, who appears in several dialogues for one voice, has a sardonic, precocious voice, and already has formed opinions on everything from literature to love to hats. Similarly, Colette's daughter appears as a minor focus in other stories, as Colette watches her growing up and dislikes how she must start to conform to society's expectations for women in general and her own separation from her mother in particular. The two young girls are generally depicted as funny, clever, and wise before their years.

Cloui/Chériappears in The Other Table - The Pearls

This is a wealthy young man, in and out of love through several stories.

Luluappears in The Other Table

This is the music hall singer who breaks up with Clouk/Chéri.

Bastienneappears in Bastienne's Child

This is a music hall performer who becomes pregnant.

La Roussalkaappears in The Misfit

This is a music hall performer who never fits in with the other girls.

Gitanetteappears in Gitanette

This is a former colleague of Colette's from the music hall who tells the story of a ruined friendship.

Gibicheappears in Gibiche

This is a music hall performer who has an abortion.

Carmen Brasco and Claraappears in Gibiche

These are music hall performers who go with Colette to visit Gibiche.

Mademoiselle Barberetappears in The Rainy Moon

This is the typist Colette uses and the sister of Délia.

Déliaappears in The Rainy Moon

This is the troubled young woman who tries to cast spells on her estranged husband.

Monsieur Mauriceappears in Monsieur Maurice

This is a lawyer who is searching for a new secretary.

Armandeappears in Armande

This is a young woman who may or may not be in love with a young man called Maxine.

Maxineappears in Armande

This is a young man who is infatuated with Armande.

Marcoappears in The Kefi

This is a middle-aged woman writer whom Colette befriends.

Paulappears in The Kefi

This is a friend of Colette's who introduces her to Marco.

Madame Armandappears in The Photographer's Wife

This is a married woman who attempts to commit suicide.

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