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Day 26

Villette by Charlotte Brontë

Chapter XXXV

December 10, 2022 by Yiyun Li

Yesterday and today’s chapter asks M. Paul the same question as Miss Fanshawe asks Lucy Snowe a few chapters ago—who are you? A question deeply connected to livelihood. The two characters facing this question both have to strive to make a living…

M. Paul laments that he has to black his own boots. Not to be unsympathetic, but when I was four, I thought I was old enough to be a shoeshiner by the roadside. I grew up believing that was a safe profession to fall back to if nothing else worked out.

The “morbid fancies” of the dead nun walking around: between Lucy Snowe and M. Paul there is bound to be some clearheadedness to recognize that all fancies are man-made fancies.

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