Okay, I’m Stumped…High School Reading Literature


You’ll understand in a minute why I used a picture of a necklace for my post, but first I have a reminder to put out.  There are only three days left until the May writing contest begins.  For those of you who would like to get an early start on your entry, do check out this page for further details.  It’s going to be a sci-fi month this time around.

Now for the main topic, high school literature.

For the most part, we were all forced to read a plethora of literature during our four years in the institution whether we liked it or not.  Most can remember reading Shakespeare, as that one always comes to mind.  Great Expectations was a big one (I enjoyed it). The Great Gatsby another (I hated it).  Many more are required reading across the country (UK and Australia too, I haven’t forgotten you guys), but I’ll stop there.  You can feel free to add the ones you hated or liked in the comment section.

I’m sure you’re really wondering why I said I’m stumped in the title, plus there is the pic of that necklace.  Well, one of the stories I was forced to read in the ninth grade left a big impression on me.  Enough that I still remember many details despite all the years that have passed.  It was a short story and for the life of me I can’t remember the title (maybe it was The Necklace but I’m not sure) and I have no idea on the author.  So maybe one of you can help me out here.  Someone must remember (I hope).

It all begins with a woman who is invited to some kind of fancy ball or party (think regency era).  The thing is, she is at the middle class level where she can have some nice things, but not a lot.  She certainly doesn’t have the right kind of fancy jewelery for the affair.  So she goes to a much richer friend and asks to borrow something of hers.  In this case, it is a beautiful necklace (maybe it looks like the one above but no idea on that either).  The ball goes great, but by the end of it she realizes she has lost the necklace!

She and her husband search everywhere trying to find it, but to no avail.  Once they resign themselves to it being lost, they check on how much it would cost to replace it.  The amount turns out to be staggering and far more than they could possibly afford.  Yet the wife does not want to tell her friend of the loss.  So she and her husband proceed to let their household help go, sell what valuables they have and take huge loans to pay for the necklace.  Within a short time they are able to buy a copy of the one that had been borrowed.  The wife returns the necklace to her friend without mentioning having lost the original.

Years pass as the married couple work to the bone to pay off their loans.  The wife had once been beautiful with soft skin.  Being forced to work ever since then, she has lost her looks and the enjoyment of her once easy lifestyle.  One day she passes the rich friend she’d avoided for all this time.  The friend is shocked at her appearance and asks what happened.  The woman finally explains what occurred that fateful day with the necklace.  She is rather bitter at this point for having ever borrowed it.  The rich friend gasps at the revelation and is quite upset.  You see, she hadn’t loaned a “real” necklace.  It was simply a nice, fake copy and not worth that much.  The main character had worked all those years for nothing and given the rich woman a far more valuable replacement!

Now if that isn’t a story to get your goat at the end, I don’t know what is.  My summarized version isn’t nearly as good as the author’s full one but I’m hoping this jogs a few memories so someone can tell me who wrote this.  I’ve often thought about that story since reading it back then.  There are a couple of lessons to be learned.  First, know what you are borrowing.  Second, if you lose it, be honest about it.  Third, don’t ever borrow anything expensive if you can help it.  I don’t think I’ll ever get past the idea of that poor woman losing everything and working for years to replace something that wasn’t even of real value.  Gives me a shudder every time I think about it.

If anyone knows of this story, please comment, even if you can’t remember the author name either.  If you have a different story you read back in your school days that left a lasting impact, feel free to share that.

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~ by Suzie on May 18, 2012.

6 Responses to “Okay, I’m Stumped…High School Reading Literature”

  1. The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant

  2. No problem. For me, the short story The Lottery by Shirley Jackson was one that really stood out. I also enjoyed Great Expectations in high school.

  3. Under the Greenwood Tree – Thomas Hardy… Guess I was one of the lucky ones, it completely changed my appreciation of the classics! Though, I confess, when I was first given it I thought to myself, ‘OMG, how one earth am I going to read this boring pile of…’

    • I haven’t actually read that one, Anthony. It is funny how we dread reading some things assigned to us, but certainly nice when they turn out good!

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