Short Story Review: The Flood by Émile Zola

“Everything was misty. It was the terrified end of a day melting into the night of death.”

the floodMy Rating : *4 Stars*

Depressing, quite depressing.

This story is based on the 1875 flood of the Garonne River in Toulouse, France and as it was reported nearly 3000 lives were lost. This event inspired Zola to write this short story, The Flood, which is set in the village of Saint-Jory.

It’s a story of a seventy-year-old farmer, Louis Roubien, who lives with his family: his brothers, grandchildren, sisters and his children.

Zola tells how Roubien family, after struggling for a very long period of time finally tastes prosperity and become one of the richest family(or maybe the only richest family) in the village. They own vast lands that they use for farming and cattle farms and how they have it all in abundance. When the story begins, it is shown that this is their best year.

To quote Roubien:”For fourteen years I battled with the earth for my daily bread. At last, prosperity smiled on we, and last month I was still the richest farmer in the parish. Our house seemed blessed, happiness resigned here. The sun was our brother, and I cannot recall a bad crop.”

Zola used powerful imagery to describe the beauty of the village, of setting sun and imagery which ensue peace.

“The sky was blue, an immense blue sheet of profound purity, in which the rays of the setting sun were like a golden dust. Never had I seen the village drowsing in so sweet a peace.”

But then the evening transcended to the blind wrath  of nature and it’s beauty turned itself into a devil that brought destruction and death for the villagers.

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Not a very accurate depiction.

And the events that followed it were quite disturbing for me. Death engulfed everyone one by one and throughout the night, they faced loss.

In the hour of darkness, Zola through his story portrays, fear and desperation to get out of the clench of death and how in the hours of destruction individuals show their heroism, and do everything to save their loved ones.

Louis lost his whole family by the break of dawn and he felt the pure loss as a single night took away everything from him: his family, his prosperity, and happiness. And he was so weak that he couldn’t do anything and there he was left all alone mourning his loss.

“Then nothing, nothing, a black pit, oblivion.”

I loved this story and totally worth reading.

You can download it, The Flood.

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Short Story : The Last Leaf by O. Henry

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This story is really beautiful and one of my favorite short story written by this author.

“The Last Leaf”, this story symbolize a lot of different aspects of life:hope, friendship, sacrifice , pessimism, optimism and death.

There were four characters, Johnsy, Sue, doctor, and old Behrman.

Johnsy was a pessimist, while Sue was an optimist. Old Behrman here in this story was a friend , who sacrificed. All three of them were artists.

Old Behrman had never painted a masterpiece, but he said that, one day he’ll paint a wonderful picture, a masterpiece.

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And he did, he painted the last leaf on the vine, before he died, and saved a life of an ill friend, Johny, who binds herself with a fancy that she’ll die with the fall of last ivy leaf.

According to me in this particular story the leaf symbolize life, death and hope. The life of a tree can be guessed by looking at its leaves, also the last leaf in this story signifies hope of life for tree and as it falls it conveys death.

I love the twist and ironic circumstances in O. Henry’s stories and this short story was worth reading.

You can also read the story here, The Last Leaf by O. Henry

You can also watch this short film.