Usage of the Narrator in a Passage Analysis
Throughout Pere Goriot, Balzac's narrator oscillates between the roles of social historian and moralist. Although the presence of both observer and commentator may initially seem mutually exclusive, it also is a large part of what makes this novel interesting and entertaining. Balzac's readers do not segregate perception and judgment routinely in their everyday lives. By packaging profound ideas in a way similar to natural human expectation, Balzac's narrator achieves an especially comfortable and effective rapport with readers.
One of the main tenets of Pere Goriot is the story of Eugene de Rastignac's rise from provincial obscurity to success in Paris. Along the way he learns much about Parisian society and human nature. In the following passage from Pere Goriot, Rastignac pursues success through fashionable dress:
Eugene had begun to realize the influence a tailor can exercise over a young man's life.
He is either a mortal enemy or a friend, and alas, there is no middle term between the two extremes. Eugene's tailor was one who understood the paternal aspect of his trade and regarded himself as a hyphen between a young man's past and future. The grateful Eugene was eventually to make the man's fortune by one of those remarks at which he was in later years to excel: "I know two pairs of his trousers that have each made matches worth twenty thousand francs a year."
Fifteen hundred and fifty francs, and all the clothes he cared to have! At this point the poor southerner felt all doubts vanish. He went down to breakfast with that indefinable air about him which the possession of even the smallest sum of money gives a young man...a young man who can jingle a few fleeting gold pieces in his pocket...