The Necklace CommonLit Answers

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  • 9th Grade
  • Lexile: 890

Source: The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant

Assessment Answers

QuestionAnswer
PART A: What does the word “petulantly” mean, as it is used in paragraph 10?Showing sudden irritation
PART B: Which clue from the text best supports the answer to Part A?“She looked at him out of furious eyes, and said impatiently: “And what do you suppose I am to wear at such an affair?” (Paragraph 13)
PART A: What does the conversation between Mathilde and her husband in paragraphs 10-13 reveal about the characters’ different points of view regarding the party?The conversation highlights the different levels of experience each character has in attending parties thrown by society’s prominent members.
PART B: Which TWO quotations best support each character’s point of view? Select one quotation for each character.Mathilde: “I don’t know exactly, but I think I could do it on four hundred francs.” (Paragraph 24)
This quote shows Mathilde’s perspective that she needs an elegant expensive dress to fit in with the wealthy women at the party.

Monsieur Loisel: “It looks very nice, to me…” (Paragraph 15)
This quote illustrates Monsieur Loisel’s lack of experience with high society events, as he thinks Mathilde’s normal theater dress is good enough for the exclusive party.
PART A: How does Mathilde’s attitude about life differ from her husband’s?Mathilde is dramatic and concerned with how others view her; her husband is hardworking and content
PART B: Which of the following quotations from the text best support the answer to Part A?“He threw over her shoulders the garments he had brought for them to go home in, modest everyday clothes, whose poverty clashed with the beauty of the ball-dress.” (Paragraph 48)
Which sentence best illustrates a theme in the text?“How strange life is, how fickle! How little is needed to ruin or to save!”
Using examples from the text, explain the irony at the end of the story.The irony at the end of the story is that Mathilde suffers tremendously for having lost what turns out to be an imitation diamond necklace.

After losing the necklace, Mathilde and her husband work for 10 years in poverty to replace it, making extreme sacrifices. Yet, the passage states that “Madame Forestier, deeply moved, took her two hands…’Oh, my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. It was worth at the very most five hundred francs!'” (Paragraph 114).
Thus, the necklace was fake the entire time. All the suffering Mathilde and her husband endured for the last decade out of her obsession with luxury, status, and dramatic appearances is now revealed to be for essentially nothing. The realization is incredibly ironic after she worked herself nearly to death over what amounted to a cheap imitation.

This ending exemplifies the story’s exploration of the irony and unpredictability of life based on shallow choices like prioritizing appearances over integrity or wisdom. Mathilde makes these unrealistic materialistic priorities, leading to ironic and tragic consequences revealing those priorities’ hollowness in the end.
PART A: How does Mathilde’s attitude change after she vows to replace Madame Forestier’s necklace?Mathilde’s attitude changes from being dramatic, status-conscious, and self-pitying to displaying strength, determination, and perseverance.
Prior to losing the necklace, Mathilde is depicted as regularly distressed and weeping over desires for luxury. The passage describes her as feeling “born for every delicacy and luxury” and crying “whole days, with grief, regret, despair, and misery” at lacking money and status.
However, after she loses Madame Forestier’s necklace and vows to replace it, the passage states “She would pay it. The servant was dismissed. They changed their flat; they took a garret under the roof…She came to know the heavy work of the house, the hateful duties of the kitchen.”
This demonstrates that losing the necklace makes Mathilde shift from dramatics to quietly taking responsibility by changing her lifestyle and sacrificially working to pay the debt, displaying newfound strength and perseverance.
PART B: Which of the following quotations best reflects Mathilde’s attitude change?“At the end of ten years everything was paid off, everything, the usurer’s charges and the accumulation of superimposed interest.” (Paragraph 95)

Read Also: The Most Dangerous Game CommonLit Answers

Discussion Answers

Consider the condition of Mathilde before and after paying off her debt. Next, consider Mathilde’s reasons for working hard. Based on these factors, do you think hard work changed her character? Why or why not?

Yes, I think hard work did change Mathilde’s character, based on the shifts the text depicts in her attitude and motivations before and after paying off the debt.

Prior to losing the necklace, Mathilde is portrayed as dramatic, unhappy, and constantly longing for luxury and status, crying over her ordinary lifestyle.

However, her attitude transforms after she loses the necklace and commits to paying off the replacement. Though the work is hard, the passage describes how she quietly accepts it and perseveres for the next decade until finally becoming debt-free.

Additionally, her reasons for working hard shift from self-pity to duty – she works not simply because she feels deprived, but from a sense of responsibility to repay Madame Forestier.

This change in her attitude and motivations reflects new discipline, resilience, humility, and commitment to making amends for her mistake.

So, while the work does take a physical toll on Mathilde, it also matures her character by replacing her earlier pettiness, materialism, and despair with grit, integrity, and purpose. Her poverty remains, but her character develops emotional richness.

Thus, her decade of hard work does fundamentally transform Mathilde for the better in the end.


At the end of the story, Madame Forestier reveals to Mathilde that the necklace was an
imitation. Is it significant that neither Mathilde nor anyone at the party noticed that the necklace was a fake? Why or why not?

Yes, it is significant that neither Mathilde nor anyone at the party noticed the necklace was an imitation. This detail highlights the story’s theme about the irony and superficiality of materialism and status-seeking.

Mathilde agonizes over needing to wear an elegant necklace because she believes appearances are everything. She thinks looking poor would be “humiliating” and ruin her chance to mingle with high society. Both she and the wealthy people at the ball covet the necklace’s beauty.

Yet despite all this obsession over the necklace as the key to acceptance, no one detects that it is fake. This irony reveals how shallow their values are, focused only on impression rather than substance.

It underscores the text’s critique of dramatic materialism by showing that neither Mathilde nor her aspirational peers can even discern what is real.

Their blindness to the counterfeit necklace proves visceral things like status and luxury can easily distract from deeper truth and meaning.


Consider Mathilde’s motives throughout the text. What role does greed play in this story?

Mathilde’s motives in “The Necklace” are complex and multifaceted, woven from a tapestry of desires, insecurities, and societal pressures. Greed, while arguably present, is not the sole or even primary driver of her actions. Let’s delve deeper:

Dissatisfaction and Yearning:

  • Mathilde’s yearning for a life of luxury stems from a deep dissatisfaction with her own. Trapped in a monotonous, middle-class existence, she fixates on the world of wealth and splendor she perceives through literature and glimpses of Parisian society. This yearning is not necessarily greed, but a human desire for something seemingly unattainable.

Social Aspiration:

  • Driven by societal expectations and envy, Mathilde views material possessions as markers of social status and acceptance. Borrowing the necklace becomes a desperate attempt to participate in a world she feels excluded from, not simply to possess the object itself.

Vanity and Pride:

  • Mathilde’s desire to impress others, specifically her husband and the social circle she craves, plays a significant role. Wearing the necklace is not just about personal enjoyment, but about projecting an image of wealth and belonging. This motivation touches on elements of vanity and pride, which can be intertwined with greed, but also with the human desire for social validation.

Escape and Fantasy:

  • For Mathilde, the necklace represents more than just material wealth; it symbolizes an escape from her reality. Wearing it allows her to indulge in a fantasy of belonging to the upper class, even if it’s temporary. This desire for escape is not inherently greedy, but it can lead to impulsive and reckless decisions.

Greed’s Potential Presence:

While not the dominant force, greed undeniably lurks within Mathilde’s motivations. The envy she directs towards others and her desperation to possess the necklace’s perceived social power hint at a desire for something beyond mere satisfaction. However, it’s crucial to distinguish this desire from the complex web of other emotions fueling her actions.

Mathilde’s motives in “The Necklace” are a nuanced interplay of dissatisfaction, social aspiration, vanity, and escapism. While greed may be present, it doesn’t fully capture the richness and complexity of her character and the circumstances that drive her actions.

By considering the various facets of her motivation, we gain a deeper understanding of the tragic consequences of her choices and the societal pressures that contribute to her downfall.

Remember, analyzing literature involves interpreting diverse perspectives and avoiding oversimplification. Examining all of Mathilde’s motives, including the potential presence of greed, allows for a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of her character and the story’s message.

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Dr. Evelyn Wordsworth
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Dr. Evelyn Wordsworth is a seasoned linguist and literacy educator with over 7 years of experience in the field. Holding a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the prestigious Harvard University, Evelyn has dedicated her career to exploring the intricacies of language acquisition and promoting literacy among diverse learner populations.

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