Essay Plan

  1. M. Pasquier’s physical appearance evoked admiration.
  2.  But there were problems with M. Pasquier’s ironic and mocking attitude
  3. M. Pasquier was an intelligent, hardworking man.
  4. But M. Pasquier’s judgement was often unsound and delusory
  5. M. Pasquier was a moralist and an idealist
  6. But his moralistic interventions often showed intolerance and eccentric values
  7.  And in these moralistic interventions there were displays of extreme anger and there were elements of histrionic self indulgence.
  8. He is admirablyself-reliant and independent but these show elements of irresponsibility and anarchism
  9. His ambition and his conduct  cause discomfort and suffering to his wife and children
  10. Finally we ask how sympathetic is the portrait that the book builds up of M. Pasquier

Essay on the character of M. Raymond Pasquier

The portrayal of Laurent’s father arouses mixed reactions in the reader-- sometimes they are positive for a man who can do admirable things, sometimes they are negative for a man, who can be, to say the least, very difficult.  A study of the character of M. Raymond Pasquier, therefore involves a balancing of the many conflicting aspects of a very complex personality.

  1. M. Pasquier’s physical appearance

Youthful looking and smartly dressed he seemed a charming man of the world and he usually wore a smile (Page 47) :
Il avait des manières gracieuses. Un véritable homme du monde comme on en voit sur les images. Il souriait toujours si joliment.

When he had first entered on scene, arriving back from work, he was wearing a bowler hat and a coat with a fur collar of elegant cut, which, he used to claim, was shabby - but the children could see nothing wrong with it.
Laurent saw him as a charismatic, handsome man, who aroused their admiration (Page 47):
Avec ses longues moustaches blondes, presque rousses, ses yeux bleus, sa belle prestance, il ressemblait à Clovis, au Clovis de mon livre. Il était beau. Nous l'admirions.

Women were vulnerable to his charms.  Mlle Bailleul became embarrassed and confused when he approached her.

At one point in the book this youthful image disappears momentarily.  M. Pasquier  declared himself to be in his prime.   When the action of the book begins, he is 42 years old - but their father never mentioned his actual age.  It came as a shock to Laurent when M. Pasquier broke his dentures and was transformed briefly into a lisping old man page 181:
J'avais toujours trouvé mon père si beau, si jeune.  Je venais d'entrevoir le vieillard       
qu'il serait un jour et qu'il tâchait de nous cacher

Also M. Pasquier might not beblessed with as good a constitution as that required by a man aspiring to eternal youth.  According to his wife, M. Pasquier had chronic health problems.  She was convinced that he was delicate and that but for her tender loving care, he would die.  She told Mlle. Bailleul (Page 50):
Mais qu'est-ce qu'ils feraient, mon Dieu! si je mourais maintenant! Et je ne parle pas des pauvres petits, je pense même a mon Raymond. Il a l'air, comme ça, jeune et fort. Et, depuis sa grande maladie, il est fragile, très fragile. Si je n'étais pas là pour lui frictionner le dos, il mourrait, mademoiselle, il ne serait pas long à mourir.

2 But - Problems with M. Pasquier’s ironic and mocking attitude

In relation to his charms also, some qualifications should be noted.  People were not comfortable in his company. Laurent’s description of his father shows that on his good days even when he was smiling, his manner was still cold and disdainful (p. 120) 
"Mon père était, les bons jours, souriant, froid, dédaigneux. Il caressait d’un geste élégant ses belles moustaches flambantes." 
 His delightful smile aroused disquiet because of the sense of disdain that it conveyed.  Laurent speaks of ...( Page 60):
Ce léger sourire méprisant qui nous était ravissement et malaise.

Elsewhere we are told that irony was in his expression even when he looked on his family with affection (Page 47):
Il nous regardait avec un sourire en même temps affectueux et ironique.

In his preface, Laurent gives a brief pen portrait of the impression that his father made upon him and this is primarily of a distant, complex man with this notorious teasing, ironical attitude.  Laurent had been talking of the power of emotion that Raymond Pasquier showed on the rare occasions when he spoke of the son and daughter, whom they had lost in the course of one week to scarlet fever.  Laurent says that at those moments, his father’s voice changed and his face saddened dramatically and his behaviour was totally untypical.  He goes on to describe his father’s normal public manner:
Mon père était, à son ordinaire, ironique, badin, fuyant, insaisissable.

Mme Pasquier referred to these characteristics, when she was trying to explain why her family, the Delahaie, found it difficult to understand him. She told him (page 50):
Tu es travailleur, tu es sobre et courageux et intelligent, tout, mais pas â leur façon. Et tu ne peux pas t'empêcher de dire des choses et d’avoir l'air de te moquer du monde.

M. Pasquier’s irony could be a most devastating weapon.  He used it to good effect against the retired school headmistress, Mlle Vermouse, during her short stay as a boarder in their apartment.  This objectionable lady had had the effrontery to correct the grammar of M. Pasquier, saying, pedantically, that correct French required the preposition “à” after the verb “aimer” – to love. With sharp wit, M. Pasquier told her that this was a verb, which, with or without the preposition, she would have liked to have conjugated at least once in her life, if only she had had the chance. (p. 172)
"Avec ou sans préposition, c'est un verbe, mademoiselle, que vous n'auriez pas été fâchée de conjuguer au moins une fois, si l'on vous y avait aidée."

Although M. Pasquier was typically cold, distant and ironical, he was not always in a serious mood and we see him convulsed with happy laughter at the comic performances of M. Wasselin, which made him split his sides.

3) M. Pasquier, the independent, intelligent, hardworking man

M. Pasquier came from peasant roots and his great ideal was to elevate his family in the world.  It fell to him to take the lead along the first stages in this process and he was convinced that education offered the key to open up the way. Laurent tells us (Page 155): 
"Mon père était semblable à ces enragés solitaires, non par calcul égoïste, mais par logique et raison, parce que tout ce qu'il voulait dépendait d'abord de  lui-même et que, s'il fallait s'instruire, s'élever, comme il disait, le mieux était encore de commencer tout de suite et de commencer par soi."
At the age of 42, M. Pasquier gave up his full-time work to apply himself to a formidable course of private study, in order to qualify as a doctor. 

Laurent discovered that as his very first step in his self education, his father had set himself the task of learning every word in the dictionary Page 76:
"J'ai compris, par la suite, qu'il avait fait un effort immense et naïf pour apprendre les mots et leur sens et que, dans ses calculs, c'était bien la le commencement de tout, l'échelon initial, le premier grade nécessaire â l'ascension d'une tribu."  His verbal fluency and the fine and powerful turn of phrase with which he often expressed himself was proof of his success in this painstaking effort. He enjoyed the striking epithet –  portraying M. Wasselin as “ un sacristain patibulaire
Pain was to be a feature of M. Pasquier's perseverance and self-discipline throughout his studies. On the nights when Laurent slept on the couch in the study, he would see his father working very late into the night. Sometimes M. Pasquier’s head would drop forward in slumber. Then M. Pasquier would put his wrist over the paraffin lamp or he would stab himself on the back of the left hand with his right as he warded off sleep by the pain.  Seeing the wounds in the morning, Mme Pasquier strongly reproached him.
At the end of the summer of 1890, when the money from the Delahaie legacy had still not arrived and the family difficulties were even more intense, M. Pasquier had to drive himself even harder. He took on extra work in order to earn money and once again, in spite of his wife's previous warnings, he was to be seen working until the early hours of the morning, burning his wrist. His ultimate success was a tribute to the talent of an intelligent man and also a tribute to his immense dedication.


M. Pasquier was therefore shocked when his eldest son, Joseph, gave up his studies early page 134

Mon père tirait sur sa moustache. Il avait l’air profondément déçu.  Alors qu'il se préparait  à donner lui-même pour l’ascension de la tribu, le plus grand effort de sa vie, voilà que, déjà, l'équipe de relève manifestait des signes de fatigue."

M. Pasquier had a further disappointment when his second son, Ferdinand, failed his exams. This left him, as he put it, on his own to attempt the painful, disconcerting fortune of studies Page 175:

C'est lui donc, lui seul, lui, l'homme déjà mûr — il ne dit plus jamais son âge — qui va tenter, contre tout bon sens, la douloureuse, la déconcertante fortune des études.

4)But - M. Pasquier’s judgement was often unsound and delusory

The negative aspect of this man with lofty dreams was that he was too easily enthused by projects that were over-ambitious and even irresponsible.  His decision to educate himself to qualify as a doctor in mid-life would have rated as such with anyone less driven than Raymond Pasquier.  

Unfortunately, in spite of his intelligence, he was dangerously prone to self -delusion and to lose touch with reality and he often led his wife and family along in these realms of fantasy.  Laurent gives a cynical description of this family habit as:
débauches mythiques, …. épanchements de songeries et de projets (Page 119).

On that first night after learning of the death of his wife’s aunt, M. Pasquier was already making plans for the family to leave their grim little home, finding instead a four bedroom apartment -- big enough to hold all the furniture at Mme. Delahaie. However, Mme Pasquier was more cautiou and realistic, uncertain of her share of the inheritance.  She warned her husband about dreaming - at which M. Pasquier denied that he was the biggest offender in this respect page 50:
« Rêver! » grondait mon père avec irritation. « Je me demande un peu lequel de nous deux s'amuse â rêver. »
However, he was being unfair to his wife, because the normal family routine was that M. Pasquier started his wife dreaming (Page 68):
"Elle était pétrie de prudence et de crainte, mais us mot de papa la faisait rêver. Qui croire, grand Dieu: Si l’on ne croit pas cet homme extraordinaire?  Et mère, un mot de papa dans le cœur, s'envolait."
In the mid-summer following the death of Mme Delahaie, M. Pasquier led his family in an orgy of dreaming. Ambitious plans were formed to extend by renting also the apartment next door and knocking through a connecting door. They would have a maid. This grew to two maids. But it was always M. Pasquier who wearied first of the dreams that he had initiated page 110:
"Il regardait maman avec une ironie d'abord souriante, puis glacée, puis rancuneuse. -Oh: comme les rêves d'autrui le trouvaient méprisant, même quand il les avait fait naître, surtout, surtout, quand il les avait fait naître."
His judgement was often unsound and he was capable of unwise decisions.  Without his wife’s approval, M. Pasquier wrote to the Chamber of Notaries to register a complaint against the Delahaie family lawyer in respect of the delay in settlement. Mme. Pasquier was horrified by the harm his secret initiative could have done to the progress of their case (Chapter 14).
At one point M. Pasquier had the irresponsible idea of setting out for America alone to go and sort out the matters of the Delahaie will on the spot. 

Laurent tells u that his father was always too easily fooled, Page 183:
"Il était, comme tout le monde, et même beaucoup mieux que tout le monde, capable de se laisser duper, il l’a prouvé bien des fois » and the most dangerous  temptations were those that offered him a fortune through wild speculation.

During their protracted wait for news from the lawyer in Le Havre, they received a letter from moneylenders, who offered them a sizable loan in anticipation of the arrival of the money from Le Havre. M. Pasquier was disgusted after Mme Pasquier spelt out for him how exorbitant the terms were. However, left to himself, he might easily have been tempted by the idea of some money in the hand rather than wait for money from the will that might never materialize.  He had argued Page 167:
Dix mille francs que l'on tiendrait, ça vaudrait mieux, Lucie, que ces quarante mille francs dont nous ne toucherons peut-être jamais le premier liard.
M. Pasquier was quickly carried away by the prospect of imminent wealth in M. Wasselin's story that the residents of the Rue Vandamme were to be expropriated. He calculated an inflated compensation claim of fr.10,000-fr.12,000 for his family, on the grounds that the rented apartment was his place of work. These hopes and dreams gradually faded away in the weeks that went by and the realisation grew that the story was just fable.  M. Pasquier, in a typical reaction, was able to laugh off an affair for which he had initially shown such great enthusiasm.

After Mme Pasquier had secured a loan from the Courtois to tide them over until she received the money of her inheritance, M. Pasquier, without prior consultation, invested 690 francs of it in a gas lighting company. This new company was offering the incredibly high interest rates of 12%. Inevitably, Incanda Finska collapsed and M. Pasquier lost this substantial sum essential to his family.

We are told that M. Pasquier did not learn even from this mistake. He continued to speak of it with a mixture of anger and tenderness, still regarding it as a good piece of business and we are told that in subsequent years he succumbed to the temptation of similar ventures with the same disastrous results. Page 202
 Il a toujours, par la suite, du moins chaque fois qu'il l'a pu, trinqué dans ces grands naufrages, dans la débâcle Thérèse Humbert, dans le désastre Rochette. Le génie de ces aventuriers le fascinait bien un peu, malgré qu'il en eût et quoi qu'il en ait pu dire.

5) M. Pasquier was a moralist and idealist.


We have seen above that M.  Pasquier held strong principles.  Some were totally admirable - the goals he set for family education and  self-improvement. Laurent describes how at his best he was philosophic and detached.  He had grand thoughts, grand  plans and a heavy task to perform, Page 120:
 Mon père était, les bons jours,  souriant, froid, dédaigneux. Il caressait d'un geste élégant ses belles  moustaches flambantes. Il considérait le monde avec une indifférence  souverainement philosophique. Il avait de grandes pensées, de grands desseins,  une lourde tâche.  
Laurent  goes on to regret that his father did not remain always in this philosophic  mode and describes the awe and admiration the boy felt for him in that state  Page 120:
..... pour mystérieux et distant qu'il me parût en cet état, mon père était  alors une divinité courtoise.

Later, Laurent tells us that once M.Pasquier was on his philosophic pedestal he would straightaway be unfolding his vision of the future and he did this even on the brink of death Page 125:
Il tirait sur ses longues moustaches et commen­çait de nous dépeindre l'avenir, cet avenir dont il n'a cessé de parler, jusque sur le seuil de la tombe.

He was so confident of his values that he sought to assert them to those around him, family, neighbours or strangers.   When he saw something happening which did not meet with his approval, as we will see later, he was quick to intervene. Laurent tells us, page 90: “Mon père ne refusait volontiers le combat”.   Later in the book, he adds the word “ unfortunately” to his father’s habit of moral intervention Page 120:-
Malheureusement, le philosophe descendait par­fois de sa colonne et toujours à la poussée de motifs pertinents, indiscutables. 
It appears that one of the reasons that they moved home so often was his habit of uncalled for intervention in the affairs of neighbours.  Thus, when a noisy family row broke out in the flat next door and they heard M. Wasselin shouting in furious and violent anger,  Mme Pasquier pleaded with her husband to stay out of it this time, even though he was getting very irritated (Page 90)
— Laisse, Ram, avait dit maman. Ne va pas t'emporter, surtout : il nous faudrait quitter cette maison, comme toutes les autres, et ce serait bien dommage.  Puisque c'est à choisir, amis ou ennemis, prenons-en  notre parti.

On that occasion, restrained from intervening, he confined to a verbal moralising  about M Wasselin’s display of anger: "De telles vulgarités disparaîtront quand les hommes sont plus instruits.". ( 
M. Pasquier did intervene more forcibly later, when later M. Wasselin took to beating his son, Désiré, on a regular basis. Then M. Pasquier used to bang on the wall, threatening to call the police or to escort Wasselin to the police station himself.

6) But his moralistic interventions often showed intolerance and eccentric values

To his discredit,  M. Pasquier’s moral interventions often showed his intolerance and eccentricity and caused excruciating embarrassment to his family.

M. Pasquier had very strong opinions about how people should behave in public and, when something offended his principles, he was only too ready to make a very public demonstration of his disapproval. His interventions caused great distress to his family and his wife would be grabbing his arm and under her breath she would plead with him to stop. However he would brush her aside as he preached the gospel of public seemliness, Page 121
Maman saisissait notre père par le bras et gémissait, pleine d'angoisse : « Raymond, Raymond, pour l'amour de Dieu! » Mon père, d'un geste calme et résolu, écartait cette prière amollissante. Allait-on l'empêcher d'accomplir son devoir, de confesser, de prêcher l'évangile du bon usage?

M. Pasquier was intolerant of ugliness. If he met an exceptionally ugly person, he would make loud insulting comments for all to hear Page 122: 
Rencontrions-nous un quidam d'une laideur excessive, papa levait les yeux au ciel et criait : " II faut être beau Je ne comprends pas... Pourquoi me tires-tu par la manche, Lucie ? Je te répète qu'il n'est pas permis d'être laid comme certaines personnes que je préfère ne pas désigner plus clairement."

He would reprove even the most distinguished men for yawning in public. To people who picked their noses he gesture to them to keep their hands off.  To those who scratched themselves shamelessly in public, he would offer to give them a hand page 122:
A la personne qui se grattait sans vergogne, il avait l'air d'offrir gracieusement assistance. Sous-entendu : « voulez-vous que je vous aide? ». Et, tout cela, sans la moindre trivialité, bien entendu, puisque le chevalier bataillait pour l'élégance et la bonne tenue.

M. Pasquier would tell people who squinted in strong sunlight to stop grinning like monkeys and would lecture bald men who did not wear a hat for their immodesty in revealing their bare pate.  He took offence when he saw nursing mothers holding their babies wrongly and would take their babies from them to show them the correct way.

7) In these moralistic interventions there were displays of extreme anger and there were elements of histrionic self indulgence.
M. Pasquier had massive bouts of anger

Laurent tells us that his father’s outbursts of anger were one of the great worries of Laurent’s childhood. Page 119:
……. ses colères ont été l'un des grands soucis de mon enfance.
Elles étaient de plusieurs sortes, mais éclataient de préférence, quels que fussent leur objet et leur caractère, les jours mon père se trouvait indisposé, déçu, pressé de travail ou de tracas.
Some of his outbursts were not real anger and were playful, but could trigger a display of real anger.
In the titles of Chapter 9 where this anger is discussed, this section is summarised as: “La colère considérée comme un des beaux-arts”. Because in these heated moments, M. Pasquier still seemed in control of himself and he was like an artist giving a virtuoso performance,  page 125:
Mon père, dans ses emportements, avait quelque chose d'un artiste. Il perdait rarement le contrôle de son personnage. Il semblait se gargariser de sa voix, de sa maitrise.
We see in his other behaviour a liking of histrionics – and in this incident we see a readiness on Mme Pasquier’s part to participate.  In chapter 14, M. Pasquier had shocked his  wife by announcing his decision to sail to America himself to sort out the legal affairs  Laurent has the impression of witnessing a melodramatic scene – Page 166
Minute d'effroi. Je crus que ma mère allait se jeter à genoux pour détourner papa d'un projet en même temps si fol et si grandiose. Elle commença de pleurer. Pendant qu'elle pleurait, papa se reprenait à sourire. Quelques minutes après, il avait oublié l’Amérique

At the height of such a scene, Laurent had actually seen his father smile.  Some part must have been real anger, but there were also other elements: curiosity - experiment - habit. The anger would vanish as quickly as it had exploded and within five minutes M. Pasquier was able to regain his aplomb and act as though it had never happened. Yet his poor family were left pale and trembling from the experience Page 125:
…la colère s'évanouissait soudain. L'homme terrible se prenait à sourire. Cinq minutes plus tard, il n'y pensait plus, il ne nous gardait pas rancune de ses magnifiques désordres. Il s'étonnait de nous voir pâles et tremblants.

Laurent describes how his father halted a play with a strident whistle because he thought it was rubbish.  In spite of the calls of the audience for him to leave the theatre, M. Pasquier, in control, left only at his own time- at the interval.

Whatever the element of deliberation in these bouts of anger, it was only by good fortune that there were no disastrous consequences. During late September of the final year, the delays in the payment of the legacy caused M. Pasquier some fits of temper. At the height of one he threw a dish of lentils through the top-storey window. They heard a cry in the street below and Mme. Pasquier thought he had killed someone - but it was only Mme. Tesson, the concierge, shouting with fright.
This episode was no doubt called by Laurent, “La Colère aux Lentilles”, for he had a name for each as with a musical piece.  And the most dramatic and the most fateful was “La Colère au Propriétaire”, which is described in the following section.

8) His independence has elements of irresponsibility and anarchism
His independence of character is carried to extremes
We admire M. Pasquier for working alone to achieve success, a move which required him to leave his employment.  We are less happy to discover what could have been a less positive motive for ths drastic change of career. We read that M. Pasquier found it impossible to work under the authority of another person Page 135: 
 ...."il n'avait jamais pu se courber sous aucun joug. Les mots d'emploi, d'employé lui donnaient des crises de rage".

Laurent makes clear that his father was a loner. In chapter 6, Laurent tells us that his father had not much time to spend on accessories like friendships. He had acquaintances, business relations, neighbours but no real friends. Page 87 
"Mon père a toujours travaillé seul, conduit, éperonné par une ambition trop opiniâtre pour se découvrir des semblables et signer des alliances".

They had moved home many times and we gather that it was because M. Pasquier had quarrelled with some-one.  Thus when, newly arrived in the Rue Vandamme, M. Pasquier had appeared set to go and intervene in the Wasselin family row on the landing, Mme Pasquier pleaded with him Page 90:
— Laisse, Ram, avait dit maman. Ne va pas t'emporter, surtout : il nous faudrait quitter cette maison, comme toutes les autres, et ce serait bien dommage.  Puisque c'est à choisir, amis ou ennemis, prenons-en  notre parti.

There was strong element of anarchism in his character. When he was told by the authorities that it was illegal for them to rent out one of their rooms, his reaction was to insist that his wife should look for a new lodger.

One day when M. Pasquier took his three boys for a walk in the country they came to a sign which said "Passage interdit". To the boys' amazement their father pulled up the sign and threw it away; then he led them through!

9)His ambition and his conduct  cause discomfort and suffering to his wife and children

While we admire M. Pasquier’s personal sacrifice to achieve his ambitions, we are very uneasy to see the excessive hardships that his decision imposed on his wife and children
In the summer the 1890 , we see his wife is close to despair about the  impossible situation that he has led his family into (page 131):
"Mon Dieu, que faire? Les examens de Raymond, toutes les études, je sais que c'est sacré. Je sais que c'est pour notre bien. Mais en attend­ant ca va devenir difficile. Et cette lettre de Lima qui n'arrive pas."
We see the nightmare existence of the children.  Throughout the second winter fear stalked the house. Laurent saw a phantom write on the wall of his bedroom in letters of green fire.  Then, he saw the ghosts of his aunts in Lima and of his uncle.  Finally a skeleton made an apparition. They were all demanding money.

The family were forced to pawn furniture; they had to suffer the intrusion of having boarders in their home, in order to make ends meet; Mme. Pasquier had to take in sewing. It was after her health broke under the strain and she had to spend a week in hospital that a sick Mme. Pasquier made to her son Laurent a rare criticism of her husband pays 179:
"L'instruction, c'est beau, Laurent, surtout quand on la prend jeune, mais, comme nous, comme nous, je veux dire comme ton père, c'est vraiment trop cher payer ..."
Finally when the money which they had borrowed from their neighbours subjected them to a humiliating ritual from their deranged neighbour, Mme. Pasquier cried page 206
"C'est intolérable! Qu'avons-nous fait pour mériter une punition pareille." 
It is true that at one point, M. Pasquier offered to give up and return to work, but he did not insist.  It is true that he expressed regret that he was making his children suffer but he never thought of his wife, whom he treated as a minor possession. He told her:-          
"…. ce qui me désole, c'est d'en infliger aux enfants".  Il ne parlait même pas de Maman. il l'a toujours considérée, traitée, comme du petit bien.

This quotation should warn us to temper our admiration for what M. Pasquier did on his own, for a large part was the achievement of Mme Pasquier.  He had to rely on his more practical wife for the running of the family household. It was she alone who understood the legal terms in the letters of the lawyer in Le Havre. It was she, who looked around for alternative accommodation and she who organised the removal to the Rue Vandamme.

Mme Pasquier organised the family’s finances.  We are told that her husband was not good at arithmetic (Page 168):  Papa calculait très mal et très lentement. Andhe was amazed at his wife’s skills in this respect (Page 186):  Papa disait : « Lucie, que tu ferais une étonnante femme d'affaires"

Mme Pasquier saved the family from complete destitution by taking in sewing and then by arranging to take lodgers. When they were in very desperate financial circumstances, it was Mme Pasquier who negotiated a loan from M.Courtois, their neighbour. Finally it was Mme Pasquier who was able to deduce the lessons from the ordeal, through which they had lived and to set their correct priorities in the future.

10) How sympathetic is the portrait of M. Pasquier painted by this book 

In words quoted earlier, Laurent had said that he had set out to write this book full of rancour against the father he had never been able to love but was finding his book was painting a flattering picture

Asked the same question of the balance of sympathy for M. Pasquier, the reader would of necessity be hesitant but would perhaps finally tip the scales in M. Pasquier’s favour

We admire him as a character who has life in abundance. We admire his personal charm and enjoy his clever words.  We admire his industry and his perseverance, his sense of family and the way he leads it through this great crisis.  We acknowledge his faults, but we are even amused by the exaggerated features of some of them.  We can understand that ours is not the impression that Laurent intended, but we, mere readers, did not have to live with M. Pasquier.

However there is another reason why we close the book favourable to M. Pasquier. In the final dramatic scene of the book it is Raymond Pasquier who has the heroic role when he makes his intervention against the cruel landlord who seeking to throw out onto the streets the defenceless Mme Wasselin and her son on the very day when their world had fallen apart.

At that moment, all the features of M. Pasquier’s character, good and bad, which had been presented in the course of the book, formed his arsenal in his attack.  First there was one of his massive outbursts of anger’ perhaps the most notable of his life which was to be listed as his "colère au propriétaire".  Then there were the weapons whose salvo drove the landlord from his own landing, down all the flights of stairs, out of the building and down the street and along adjoining streets, in fearful retreat.  The weapons were M. Pasquier’s words over which he had complete mastery and which he fired with unrelenting fluency.  Then there were the targets of his onslaught, because the landlord presented to M. Pasquier the attributes of physical unseemliness against which he had campaigned all these years Page 214:  
— Oui, monsieur, je vais vous châtier! Vous ne méritez pas autre chose. Vous êtes laid. Vous êtes gras. Vous êtes ridicule et bête. Vous avez le regard faux. Et même, vous ne vous refusez rien : vous vous offrez d'être chauve!

This, Laurent described page 215 as the most astonishing display of anger that was theirs to see, hear and admire in their lives.  Previously, Laurent had described his father as godlike in his moments of calm, but this time he is a different God – he is Jupiter the God of Thunder.
With this triumphant picture, the father whom Laurent was never able to love, the father who caused him such anxiety is completely forgotten.  The next section questions whether the more menacing side of the character of M. Raymond Pasquier/ M. Émile Duhamel is portrayed through a different character in “Le Notaire du Havre.”

On this day launched one of his all too frequent angry attacks on things that he refused to tolerate, he was obsessed as ever with the same eccentric targets, but this time, the reader is totally behind him. When he condemns the landlord, because he is ugly, bow-legged and to cap it all bald, it forms part of his attack on a cruel and mercenary man who has no pity for the distraught Mme Wasselin, left penniless and alone with her son. He intervenes regardless of his own interests in a rightful cause. The final picture of M. Pasquier presented by the author is of a magnificent Don Quixote. The family watches on the landing and on the balcony, awestruck.. That day they had seen Jupiter. Mme. Pasquier asks Laurent not to say anything to his father, when he ends his pursuit and returns home, Page 215:

"Ce qu'il a fait est d'un bon cœur, mais c'est épouvantable"

M. Pasquier was working hard for the sake of the future of his children.  In spite of Laurent’s reservations about his father, the son had never any doubt about the sincerity of the paternal  love.  Laurent tells us of this overriding consolation of these difficult years, page202
Nous allions à la dérive, souvent dépourvus et désemparés; mais nous avions toujours de grands projets, nous cultivions de beaux espoirs et nos parents nous aimaient."

In a sad verdict on his father Laurent had told us previously that on his good days he had great thoughts, great plans, a heavy task, but unfortunately he was most often not like that. Reviewing the book that he is writing, Laurent tells us that he had begun his story full of grievance against his father, whom he had never managed to love, but that the writing of the story had made him more indulgent to the father, whose death was then quite a few years in the past.  Page 155:
"O père, comme la lumière du souvenir te va bien! Comme elle t'éclaire avec indulgence Je suis parti dans mon récit le cœur torturé de reproches, malgré la mort et les années ... vas-tu donc me faire oublier que je n'ai pas pu te chérir?"

It is possible that with his portrayal of M. Wasselin, Georges Duhamel, completes the details of the picture, that he had not found able to convey fully with Raymond Pasquier as we see him in "Le Notaire du Havre".