A Vendetta

a vendettaThe French writer Guy de Maupassant is said to be one of the fathers of the modern short story. This story is about an old widow who lives in a small village in Southern Italy with her only son and his dog. One evening, the son is murdered. The mother is so saddened by this that she promises a vendetta against the killer. Every day, she sits by the window and wonders how she, a weak old woman with no-one to help her, can carry out her promise. Finally, she comes up with an idea and has her revenge.

Intermediate Vocabulary Help

The words and expressions in our Simplified English story which are not in our Intermediate level 1800 word list are: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and .

General Comments on the Story

The story is told by a in the . There are two types of third person story. The first is where the narrator is “all-knowing” (or omniscient) and can tell about any of the character’s actions, thoughts and emotions. The second is where the narrator only has knowledge of the thoughts, feelings and actions of a single major character (limited omniscient).

“A Vendetta” is told by a limited omniscient narrator… we only hear the story from the old woman’s point of view. The danger with this type of story (as with stories written in the ) is that we are only getting one of events. At first, we might feel sorry for a poor old woman left alone in the world after her only son is murdered. However, could there be another side to the story? Consider these questions:

  • We can reasonably assume that the old woman lived her whole life in the village. Why is it that she seems to have had no friends to help her? How did her husband die? Could he or they have done something that made the village turn against her?
  • What did her son, Antoine, do for a living? He doesn’t seem to have had a regular job. All we know is that he went “hunting” in the mountains with his dog. In the original story we are told that after criminals hiding from the police in Sardinia thought it was safe again, they would go back to the “maquis”. As well as being the name for the low trees that cover Southern Italy, this was the name given to s who hid among the trees to rob people passing by. Could the father and / or Antoine have been “maquis”?
  • Why was Antoine killed? The only information given in the original story is that it was an act of . This means that Antoine must have trusted Nicolas Ravolati in some way. Were they s in crime who had an argument? Or had Nicolas arranged the meeting by saying that he wanted to talk to Antoine about one thing, and then killed him for something else he had done to Nicolas or someone in his family?
  • What do we know about Nicolas? When he went to Sardinia after killing Nicolas, he opened up a ‘s shop in such a way that anyone could find him. Does this sound like a criminal trying to hide from the police?

We aren’t told the answers to these questions, but they leave enough room for us to think that there may actually be three s in this story: Nicolas Ravolati (a murderer), Antoine Saverini (a possible criminal), and Antoine’s mother (looking for revenge at all costs). Whether you agree or not, the frightening description of how Nicolas died at the end suggests one possible moral of the story: two (or three) wrongs do not make something right.

Is there a ? Certainly… Semillante the dog. She was the only one to properly Antoine, the master she loved, the night he died. And although she killed Nicolas, she only did this because she was ly trained to do it by Antoine’s mother.

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(n: bark pl barks) 1. The outer covering of a tree. 2. The loud sound made by a dog when it is angry or excited.
(v: bark, barks, barked, barking) 1. To make a loud sound like that made by a dog when it is angry or excited. The dog barked at the stranger. 2. To shout or say (something) in a loud and angry way. The captain barked orders to his men. 5000

tree bark barking dog

(n: barrel pl barrels) 1. A large, usually wooden container with round sides and flat ends. 2. A tube in a gun through which a bullet goes when it is fired. 3000

barrels gunbarrel

beggar(n: beggar pl beggars) A person (often homeless or disabled) who lives by asking others to give them money, food, etc. 2000

cliff(n: cliff pl cliffs) A high, steep surface (or 'face') of rock, earth, or ice. 3000

cling(v: cling, clings, clung, clinging) 1. To hold onto something or someone very tightly. The children clung to their father as he said goodbye. 2. To stick to something or someone. The shirt clung to his wet shoulders.
(adj: clingy, clingier, clingiest) Used to ​describe something or someone that clings. A clingy dress/child. 4000

corridor(n: corridor pl corridors) A long, narrow passage inside a building with doors that lead to rooms on each side; also called a hall or hallway. 3000

fierce(adj: fierce, fiercer, fiercest) 1. Very violent and likely to fight. A fierce dog/warrior. 2. Very violent or powerful. A fierce battle/storm. 3. Very strong or intense; having or showing a lot of strong emotion. A fierce argument. 3000

harbor(n: harbor pl harbors; also harbour, harbours) A part of the ocean, sea, lake, etc., that is next to land and that is protected and deep enough to provide safety for ships. 4000

howl(n: howl pl howls) A long, loud, high-pitched cry as made by a dog or wolf.
(v: howl, howls, howled, howling) To give off or make a long, loud, high-pitched cry. 5000

(n: passage pl passages) 1. A short section of a book, poem, speech, piece of music, etc. 2. A narrow space that people or things can move through. 3000

book passage water passage

paw(n: paw pl paws) The foot of a land animal that has claws. 5000

revenge(n: revenge, noncount) The act of doing something to hurt someone because that person did something that hurt you. 5000

sausage(n: sausage pl sausages) Spicy ground meat (such as pork) that is usually pushed tightly into a narrow tube of skin. 3000

savage(adj: savage) Very cruel or violent; likely to cause harm or damage to someone or something. A savage attack/battle/storm.
(adv: savagely) In a savage way. He was savagely beaten. 5000

stab(v: stab, stabs, stabbed, stabbing) To wound (someone or something) with a pointed weapon, such as a knife or sword. (แทง) 3000

straw(n: straw, noncount) The dry stems of wheat and other grain plants having many uses, eg as bedding for animals, making mats and other goods etc. (ฟางข้าว) 3000

(n: vendetta pl vendettas) 1. A very long fight between two families or groups in which each group kills members of the other group in order to punish that group for earlier murders; a 'blood feud'. There has been a bitter vendetta between the two families for many years. 2. A series of acts done by someone over a long period of time to cause harm to a person or group they do not like. He has accused the British media of pursuing a vendetta against him. (ความพยาบาท) 13000

widow(n: widow pl widows) A woman whose husband has died. (แม่ม่าย) 3000

wrinkle(n: wrinkle pl wrinkles) A small line or fold that appears on your skin as you grow older. (ริ้วรอย) 4000

yard(n: yard pl yards) 1. The area of ground around a house, usually covered with grass or plants. (สนาม) 2. An area of enclosed (fenced) ground used for a special purpose. (ลานบ้าน) 3. An old British unit of length equal to three feet or 0.9144 meters. (หลา) 2000

narrator(n: narrator pl narrators) Someone who tells a story; a storyteller. 7000

(n: third person) In literature, a writing style where a story is told by someone who is not a character, using 'he', 'she', 'it' and 'they' as subject pronouns when describing what characters do. The writer may choose for the knowledge of the third person to be limited (in which the reader enters the mind of only one character at a time) or omniscient (all-knowing, where the thoughts of every character are open to the reader).

(n: First Person, singular) In literature, a writing style where a story is told by one character at a time, using 'I' and 'we' as subject pronouns and 'me' and 'us' as object pronouns when speaking for and about themselves. The reader sees the story through the character's eyes and shares his or her opinions, thoughts, and feelings. When reading such stories, it is important to remember that we only see other characters through the narrator's eyes, and that nobody is 100% correct in everything they think or see. The reader sometimes needs to question and look beyond what the narrator says in order to fully understand the story.

version(n: version pl versions) 1. A story or description that is different in some way from another person's story or description. The boy gave his version of what had happened. (เรื่องราว) 2. A form of something (such as a product) that is different in some way from other forms. A new version of the software should be available soon. (รุ่น) 2000

bandit(n: bandit pl bandits) A criminal who attacks and steals from travelers and who is usually a member of a gang. 7000

(n: treachery, noncount) Harmful things that are done usually secretly to a friend, your own country, etc. (การทรยศ) 11000

partner(n: partner pl partners) Someone who participates in an activity or game with another person. 2000

carpenter(n: carpenter pl carpenters) A person whose job is to make or fix wooden objects or wooden parts of buildings. 4000

villain(n: villain pl villains) 1. A person who is wicked or of very bad character. (วายร้าย) 2. A character in a story, movie, etc., who does bad things. (ตัวโกง) 6000

hero(n: hero pl heroes) A person admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities. Although the term 'hero' is now commonly used to refer to both men and women, it strictly should used only for men. The word for a woman who is admired for being brave is 'heroine'.
(adj: heroic) Used to describe a hero or the brave acts that heroes do. 3000

(v: mourn, mourns, mourned, mourning) To feel or show great sadness because someone has died. 6000

cruel(adj: cruel, crueler, cruelest) Used to describe: 1. someone who hurts others and does not feel sorry about it; 2. something that causes or helps to cause pain or suffering.
(n: cruelty pl cruelties) 1. Something which causes pain or suffering. 2. The quality or state of being cruel. 3000

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