“A Duel” written by Guy de Maupassant, is a short story set in post Franco – Prussian war. The Germans have occupied France. The story follows the train journey of four characters: M. Dubuis, a Prussian officer and two Englishman. M. Dubuis is a French soldier on his way to see his family for the first time since the war started. The Prussian officer is a boastful victor who talks about where he killed Frenchman and how many he killed. Dubuis is infuriated by the Prussian’s comments but sits passively behind a newspaper. Meanwhile the two Englishmen pretend to be fascinated by the Prussian. The Prussian then targets Dubuis ordering him to buy him some tobacco, as if he were a slave in his own country. Dubuis, being passive, left the car but not to buy tobacco. He went into the car behind to escape the Prussian but was followed by him and the two curios Englishmen. The Prussian begins to heckle again but Dubuis has enough and explodes jumping on top of him and punching him until he is too tired. Dubuis then resumes his seat and tries to cool down. The Prussian calls Dubuis out saying he has to duel him otherwise he will kill him. At the next station the Prussian gets some pistols and the two square up. In great irony Dubuis kills the Prussian and the curious Englishmen quickly drag him back to the train so not to miss it.
I can relate to “A Duel” through Dubuis’ immense tolerance in the first half of the story. “He was alone! He tore open his waistcoat, his heart was beating so rapidly, and, gasping for breath, he wiped the perspiration from his forehead.” Dubuis had to use so much self-control to just walk away and ignore the Prussian. So much control to hold in all that anger, one more thing could tip him over the edge. Then the Prussian follows him and starts tugging on his mustache, this sets Dubuis off and he beats him up. I can relate to this as everyday there are people/things which annoy me or get on my nerves. For these things I have to use self-control not to burst out and tell them to stop. Sometimes, usually when I’m tired, I have trouble controlling myself though.
A real world connection to the text would be that of bullying. Bullying can be seen on a whole lot of different levels around the world, in school, at the work place, it happens with all different ages. M. Dubuis is bullied by the Prussian Officer and the two Englishmen do not step in to help. This seems to happen a lot with people not wanting other peoples problem to become their’s, which is a reason why bullying still persists. “The Englishmen stared at them, retaining their previous impassive manner.” The Englishmen sat passively. Most bullying occurs to get a reaction out of the victim and in this case the Prussian pushed Dubuis over the edge. “Blood flowed down the face of the German, who, choking and with a rattling in his throat, spat out his broken teeth and vainly strove to shake off this infuriated man who was killing him. Dubuis ends up beating the Prussian up. This happens in the real world bullies looking for a reaction, and with nobody there to back up the victim it is really easy for him.