Review: The Death of Olivier Becaille

Acerca del libro / About the book

Autora / Authoress: Émile Zola

Páginas / Pages: Kindle 32 Pág.

Sinopsis / Synopsis

It was on a Saturday, at six in the morning, that I died after a three days’ illness. My wife was searching a trunk for some linen, and when she rose and turned she saw me rigid, with open eyes and silent pulses. She ran to me, fancying that I had fainted, touched my hands and bent over me. Then she suddenly grew alarmed, burst into tears and stammered:”My God, my God! He is dead!”

Fue un sábado, a las seis de la mañana, que morí después de una enfermedad de tres días. Mi esposa buscaba ropa de cama en un baúl, y cuando se levantó y se volvió, me vio rígida, con los ojos abiertos y pulsos silenciosos. Corrió hacia mí, imaginando que me había desmayado, me tocó las manos y se inclinó sobre mí. Entonces, de repente, se alarmó, se echó a llorar y tartamudeó: “¡Dios mío, Dios mío! ¡Está muerto!”

Reseña / Review

In my opinion, this one was an interesting story, poor Olivier had quite the adventure while dead.

The topic was very dark yes as it was the mind of our protagonist, but it wasn’t bad at all, very enlightening to the very end.

Poor Marguerite, I can only imagine her life, but the only character I could be very relatable to was Olivier he had a very weird life and by the end I was happy to see everything actually went well for him in a way.

What I liked more of this one is that it gives you perspective on life in a very different angle.

En mi opinión, esta fue una historia interesante, el pobre Olivier tuvo una gran aventura mientras estaba muerto.

El tema era muy oscuro, sí, ya que era la mente de nuestro protagonista, pero no estaba nada mal, fue muy esclarecedor hasta el final.

Pobre Marguerite, solo puedo imaginar su vida, pero el único personaje con el que podía identificarme era Olivier, tuvo una vida muy extraña y al final me alegré de ver que todo le salio bien de alguna manera.

Lo que más me gustó de este es que te da una perspectiva de la vida en un ángulo muy diferente.

Conclusiones / Conclusions

Un libro bastante único sobre la perspectiva de la vida luego de la muerte y durante ella, basada en los sucesos de Olivier, luego de sufrir esta misterioso estado de muerte en vida y los sucesos luego de su recuperación.

Un excelente libro para aquellos a los que les encante el misterio y un poco de vida cotidiana.

A rather unique book on the perspective of life after death and during it, based on the events of Olivier, after suffering this mysterious state of death in life and the events after his recovery.

An excellent book for those who love mystery and a little bit of everyday life.


    • Joselyn Raquel

      thank you, this one was awesome, short but good


    What a nice review!

    In my case, after reading The Death of Olivier Becaille, some aspects of behavior and society called my attention. Olivier’s behavior could remain calm though he was apparently dead, and no one stated otherwise. He just analyzed the situation, made some conclusions, and was discouraged at some point, but in the end, he confirmed himself not to be dead. After his resurrection, he realized that Marguerite’s life was better without him, besides that, he took an abnegated attitude towards that situation and left Marguerite to live her life. Additionally, Marguerite’s behavior was interesting. Despite she was not having an envied life according to Olivier, she loved him. She did as much as she could to take care of his husband, even after thinking he was dead. Just after Olivier’s funeral and burial, Marguerite should take a decision -evidently, we all know that decision- and her life was changed after all. Another interesting aspect is the society at that time. How neighbors reacted to Olivier’s death; they tried to help Marguerite and take charge of the funeral. I think nowadays in that kind of situation people will react similarly to Marguerite’s neighbors. They will help as much as they can without expecting something in return. After all, I think The Death of Olivier Becaille may have something more for us to talk about.

    • rincondejoss

      totally and well depending on the community where you live yes a lot of people most probably will try and help you just because that’s good, maybe others will not be so nice. But yes this book was very interesting in the social aspect I think more people should read it.

  2. Daniel Rodríguez

    “The Death of Olivier Becaille” by Emile Zola tells us an unsettling story within a horrific scenario about how a man is seemingly dead, yet he remains conscious. It is a book that makes us wonder if he would ever be able to get his life back or if it is his end. This book counts Oliver Becaille as its main character. Olivier Becaille is an ordinary man that from a young age was known for being affected by some illnesses. For that reason, he became a man haunted and troubled by the concept of death. However, everything changed when he woke up on a Saturday and his worst nightmare became true. At this point, we as the readers are able to see how the suspense and anxiety arise as Olivier sees, hears and is aware of everything around him. However, he’s unable to move a muscle to prove that he is alive. It gets to the point where Olivier wonders: “Am I actually dead?” which is something that anyone would do in his situation. What ‘s worse is the fact that he listens to the crying of his grieving wife, while he desperately wishes to comfort her. Then, the inevitable happens, he is buried alive as the doctor declared him dead. In this point, we are able to see the struggle that Olivier went through to break out of the coffin. He just wanted to break out and get his life back as anyone would. A few months after, when he managed to return, he discovered that Marguerite had moved on and was about to get married. Unexpectedly, Olivier did something that no one would have done in his position. He decided to leave his wife to get married and live a happier and more stable life. As Olivier said, “A dead man is not jealous…..I would not commit the cruel folly of coming to life again.”

    On the other hand, we are able to see what Marguerite, his wife, was like and went through. Marguerite is a tender woman from a poor family that had always been taking care of Olivier. Once she found out that her husband had passed away, she didn’t know what to do. She was shocked and didn’t have anyone to recur to since they didn’t have any friends there. Even though Mme Gabin and Simoneau came to help her, she didn’t want to leave Olivier. Even when she didn’t have a good life and was miserable by his side, he did love him as a brother. She reacted as anyone would have done. She mourned him and eventually moved on. Regarding society, it is noticeable that back then society was more traditional because marriage was valued as something sacred. Even when Marguerite wasn’t completely happy, she stayed with Olivier until he died. Whereas nowadays, the value of marriage has been lost to a certain extent. Also, it’s clear that back then women had a whole different whole, but nowadays, there’s more freedom for them. In conclusion, this is a book that does not care about telling a story that the reader is comfortable with. As it seeks to show a tough reality where happy endings sometimes are just wishful thinking. For that reason, I consider that this is an excellent book capable of teaching us a lesson about life and death.

    • rincondejoss

      I do agree, this one was the harsh truth of life and how in those times as you say marriage was not something lightly done, like nowadays that is sad really, I think it will be very helpful for people to read this book in this time and age and learn a little more about life and all it’s sides

  3. Maria Bermudez

    “The death of Olivier Becaille” was a very interesting story because we could emerge in it and notice how the main character was feeling at every moment. At the beginning of the story, we could see the protagonist (Oliver) was very calm even if he was aware of everything that was happening around him. In the course of the story, he started feeling nostalgia and sadness every time that he remembered how Marguerite felt. Out of a sudden, his feelings changed from calm to fear at the moment he knew he would be buried alive; he wanted to cry, yell, talk and open his eyes and mouth so his desperation was noticeable. In the middle of the story, he began to remember some situations he had gone through with his wife, and how miserable he made her feel. In fact, he was always trying to give her the best he could but it was never enough. In the end, he could survive such as traumatic experience, and he decided not to tell Marguerite because he didn’t want to ruin Marguerite’s new life.

    Speaking of her, she could not believe that her husband was dead. In the beginning, she was very sad and she didn’t want to eat or drink which showed that she truly loved Olivier. At the moment she had to prepare everything for the funeral, her neighbors had to help her because she could not even think about it or about him. In the end, after several months she started feeling better and decided to give herself an opportunity to live again. Now, she was with a man who could give her everything that she never received from Olivier.

    Our society is reflected in this story because we can see at the end of the story how Olivier still loved Marguerite but he decided to let her. This happened because he knew that he would never be able to give her everything that he dreamed about. Nowadays many people decide to let others go because they think they can not be the person that someone wants them to be.
    There are many other ideas we can mention about this story but I am giving the one that called my attention.

  4. Eliecer Aldoban

    In my opinion, I can’t say it was fair enough for the protagonist to face that dark side of life in that way. Olivier used to have a miserable life, when it comes to diseases. Since he was younger, he always contemplated the idea of being dead. He learned how to deal with it, but he never enjoyed life. Even though he had to pass through all those difficult situations and end up being alone, he faced it with a strong willpower.

    When it comes to Marguerite’s attitude, she felt so sad for her husband’s death. She faced it like every strong woman when loses her lovely husband. At least, she could properly endure her husband’s death and someone could take care of her later on.

    I perceive society as realistic as it is still now. They took death as it is. When they noticed the death of Olivier, they didn’t hesitate to start the due funeral actions. I could say that it still reflects our society nowadays in that particular side of life. Everyone knows that death will come someday, so it is better to live life without any regret.

    • Edison Guerra

      Very interesting book that relates parts of how a man try to overcome and confront situations when he was declared dead, but in real facts it wasn’ t due to a lot of misconfusing thoughts, and the first one to realized when he was dead was his young wife Marguerite, on this aspect is considered that many diferences are put in consideration from science fiction and Realism make a total sum up of many and wrong ideas that Oliver was dead implying subrealism and diferent aspects of life after death. More fascinating is that Oliver Becaille got terrible situations or moments on his life when the people thought that he was dead declared by the doctor, at the end it was not like this, many points of view are considered that in today s society and real life happens.

  5. Guillermo Valencia.

    While reading “The Death of Olivier Becaille” I found myself looking forward to what would happen next since I had never read a story with this kind of plot. I think that one of the factors that kept me entertained was Olivier´s determination and will to communicate the fact that he was still alive. Throughout the story we see him face a variety of encounters that would make anyone give up but even in the face of them, he didn´t give up easily. And when the time came for him to take action even when he was in a situation as tight and overwhelming as the one he was, he was wise and clever and freed himself from trouble. Ultimately, he had to make a hard decision but I believe that it was for the best.

    Marguerite’s behavior was not something that surprised me, since facing the “death” of a loved one is a situation no one expects and strong emotions will always take over the person. She was a key character in Olivier’s perspective but for us, the readers, she didn’t do too much. It was not her fault since nothing could be done in that type of situation. Everything that happened excluding the last part of the story was something that would happen in real life. In the end the only one who could change the outcome was Olivier himself even though he was “dead”.

    I think that there are certain aspects in the story that reflect today’s society, like the concept of death, It is inevitable, death will always come for us yet it will always be a shock and something “unexpected”. Even to this day death is something you wouldn’t want your loved ones to see. like the neighbor with her child. And in today’s society the proper and regular procedures done with those that have died, happen, like a proper ceremony depending on the person’s religion and a burial.

  6. Àmbar Gonzàlez

    The death of Olivier was a fascinating story to read. Olivier was an extremely miserable person. From my point of view I didn’t just read the story, I felt it. He had an unhappy childhood and it haunted him into adulthood and his marriage to his wife. The truth is that being a person who always thinks about death is not a very healthy habit; as much as he tried to surpass it, he could never overcome that obstacle. Beyond thinking about himself and death, he also keeps his wife in his thoughts and feels alluded to see how she is doing.
    Marguerite had a normal reaction as she obviously loved her husband, even if he wasn’t perfect she knew he wasn’t a bad person, he just had traumas. She felt melancholy, sad and overwhelmed that her husband had left, but she tried as much as she could to move on, even though it is extremely difficult to do so. But we could see that there were those who supported her through this traumatic time.
    Finally, society can become apathetic. Death is often not talked about as something more than tragic. From a young age we know what it means to die and that it is an event with no turning back. Unlike what history shows us.

  7. Emily Hernández

    I consider “The Death of Oliver Becaille” a good book, especially for people who love this mysterious and dramatic genre. Talking about the characters, Oliver was an abnegate person, he always tried to be the best of himself but unfortunately, he knew he wasn’t the right person for Marguerite. He always showed himself as a pessimist person. Even though he loved Marguerite, he decided to give up on her so she can be happy. Also, Marguerite’s behavior was barely seen throughout the story, but I did notice that she cared a lot about Oliver even though Oliver’s perspective showed that she did not love him. She was a young woman who thought that her life was over with Oliver’s death showing that she was a pessimist person too. Society at that time is similar to ours nowadays in the way people behave in this type of situation. Yet so different from ours at the same time. For instance, there is always someone willing to help widowed people and also people who take advantage of the situation for their own benefit as Mr. Simoneau did. We still see envy and jealousy in our society and people that don’t care at all about their jobs like the doctor who declared Oliver dead in the story. But, Our society nowadays shows that women have more freedom than before in deciding what they want for their life. Besides that, marriage changed completely its meaning. The values of marriage are no longer so important for our generation.

  8. Marla Pinto

    The story tells that Olivier’s attitude was very thoughtful, and at one point he felt jealous if Monseiur Simoneau stay near Marguerite. He also narrates that he was hoping to wake up at some point, based on the doctor’s diagnosis. Then we see an attitude of a brave and strong person to be able to get out of the tomb. And that is where he overcomes the fear of death, however, at the end of the story he changed the course of life and didnt want other people to know that he was alive.

    On the other hand, Marguerite behaves in a very sensitive way due to the loss of her husband. It was even obvious that seeing that her husband had died, and she was alone, she was desperate and she didn’t know what to do. However, her neighbors helped her with the documents and in preparing everything for the funeral. She was so devastated that her neighbors had to take her by force so she wouldn’t see her husband being placed in a coffin to get him out of the house. But then we see a bit of bravery when she had to dress her dead husband. Years go by, and based on Madam Gabin’s statements, it is very difficult for her to get over the death of her husband. However she could do it. So much that she started a new life with a new partner.

    Analyzing a little the society of that time, I can say that it has hardly changed. The attitude of man, concerns, economic situations, have been the same over time.

  9. Yinela Sánchez

    Émile Zola created such a bone-chilling environment in just five chapters. While reading “The Death of Olivier Bacaille” I found myself on the edge of my seat. I needed to know what would happen to Olivier. Olivier’s behavior seemed realistic to his gender and time period. What really kept him going was his love and need to be with his wife Marguerite, you can call it determination or the want to keep his pride as a man. One of the most notable reflections or realizations Olivier has is that his wife Marguerite could be with someone that was in good health, unlike him. His need to show her that he could provide for her, love her and be with her is in my opinion his driving force, and also the want to demonstrate to Margarite and their neighbors that was capable. After getting his mobility back what drove him in his re-birth was his need to be alive, to feel alive, and to free himself from his past grievances.

    Marguerite’s behavior was something to be expected of a woman in her time. Recently widowed, with no money or anything in her name it is expected of Marguerite to take the job offered by M. Simoneau. After being left alone in Paris and receiving help from him it is only adequate for her in her situation to do as he asked or proposed. She did a marvelous job in grieving her husband, she did seem to love him and appreciate his company all the years they’ve known each other. According to Oliviers comments he grew on her, in the beginning, she was reluctant about the marriage but as a woman, in those times she did not have much say on what she really wanted. I saw her as a loving wife that did everything as she was supposed to and in the end, had to look after herself.

    Some aspects of society back then and now are very similar. How they see death as something that will always be present and that has to be dealt with no matter how much it hurts. How people will always talk about others, and how money and health are the most important things to have. Mme Gabin constantly reminded me of the old ladies that love to gossip and constantly comment about other people’s life which is still present in our society. What I also got from the story was how we deal with guilt. Guilt in my opinion is present one way or another in the story. Olivier feels guilt for leaving Marguerite to some extent, Margarite after losing everything feels the guilt of owing something to Mme Gabin and or M Simoneau. With some slight changes, the story would still hold up nowadays.

  10. Nicole Waugh

    The dead of Oliver Becaile” was excellent story because it tells the experiences of the character that was in coma but alive and how he was feeling every moment when everyone though he was dead. Oliver was a men afraid as a consequence of his terrible life, but with hope to be with her wife and he was also with a lot of determination to show that he was alive. Marguerite was a wife that love his husband, loyal to her feelings as we read she was broken. I think now days the factor of social classes and money has a lot of influence in our life’s, an example Marguerite was with Simoneau at the end because he was in a high social class.

  11. Loida López

    Excellent review!

    “The Death of Olivier Becaille” is truly an enlightening story about a topic many still seem afraid to speak about it. Even so, I believe it should be normalized to talk more often about these topics as it can be of help for those going through hard times. This story as it was narrated from Olivier’s perspective gave out a lot of insight into his thoughts and the way he saw the world. Olivier’s attitude towards himself was that of a man who lacks confidence and self-esteem. Even when he got to a point in which he embraced his weaknesses and fought through difficult situations in order to give his wife and himself a better life, deep inside he still felt it wasn’t enough. When Olivier faced “death” for the first time his attitude changed as he understood he wasn’t ready to leave his life. Contrary to his original belief of “accepting death as a natural force”, Olivier’s will to survive increased as he saw his wife grieving his death. Moreover, Olivier couldn’t lose his wife to another man, even more one that was the complete opposite of himself. I admire Olivier’s will to, in some way, “surpass” death as it can be compared to the hardships everyone goes through in their lives.

    Zola introduces Marguerite as a loving and supportive wife, which was usually what everyone would expect of women at that time. Marguerite does live up to these expectations even when at first she refused to marry Olivier she ended up doing it and as time passed by, she learned to love him. However, after Olivier’s “death”, as she accepted Mr. Simoneau’s job offer she realized something else and that is that she was now alone and must start a new life of her own. Even so, from the first chapter until Olivier’s funeral she refused to live his side, proving how devoted she was to her husband and her marriage. I really enjoyed seeing the character development Marguerite went through in just five chapters, as she felt lost after his husband “died” but then in the end decided to fight for herself and do not let herself give in to the fear of being left alone in an unknown place without any support.

    Society at that time does resemble a lot the society nowadays. An example of this is how even now, as in most countries being a “supporting and loving wife” means forgetting about oneself. Just like Marguerite followed Olivier and tried her best to be of help to him, without complaining or refusing to do so. We also can compare the high expectations society put on everyone as Olivier and his wife were often looked down up because of Olivier’s condition and his inability to be someone Marguerite or anyone could rely on. Even when he tried to do as much as he could, those around him would still gossip about him. In today’s society, we still face this criticism and that could be from strangers or people near us.

  12. Dario Atencio

    “The Deathb of Olivier Bécaille”, the French author, Émilie Zola, narrates the life of Olivier, the main character who was traumatized by fear of death since early childhood. Bécaille, according to the author, was not a wealthy man, had fear of ending up underground that does not give way despite logical thought that not only is natural, but also inevitable. In order to support my idea, I quote the following words that describes Bécaille’s life
    “I had pictured to myself a darker night, a deeper silence. As a little child, I had already felt afraid to die. Being weak and compassionately petted by everyone, I had concluded that I had not long to live, that I should be buried and the thought of the cold earth filled me with a dread I could not master…” Just look at how descibes himself, it totally resembles to someone experiencing a profound depression, a black hole where there’s no exit. If we bring his story to reality, Bécaille is someone who wanted to commit suicide and leave his existence behind.

    Secondly, Marguerite. She absolutely loved Bécaille and she’s deeply destroyed by his confirmed death although she was very supportive by the help of Madame Gabin and Adele. The narrator describes her in the following quote “My poor Marguerite was crying, she had dropped on her knees beside the bed, repeating in heart-rending bones “He is dead” here we see a woman who was fell in love with a man of her dreams that unfortunately had to witness how his beloved husband passed away. “My wife wearied out, was sobbing like a child” a devastated woman who only wanted her life not being as she was feeling that day. Very compassionate and caring.

    Finally, this tragic story reflects today’s society. At any time right now, a person is thinking about when or how their life is going to end. Much people fear about dying and living behind their loved ones because of how their existence will leave their relatives, of course, profoundly devastated. However, each one of us is going to face difficult times in our life, but the main point is that we know are open-minded and open up about our circumstances to people who we trust and can provide some kind of help, that point wasn’t presented in the past centuries so that we see how Bécaille decided to terminate his own life. Although his wife loved him extensively, he decided to remain silent and let his thoughts consume him. Very sad.

  13. Luis Lopez

    In “The Death of Olivier Becaille”, I find that Zola introduces us to a man who is helpless to demonstrate he is not dead, to in the end prove that he always was.

    To begin with, I perceive that Olivier Becaille, being presented as a man of weak character and fragile health, permanently scared of the idea of dying, unable to enjoy his happiest times, and unfit to be a good lover to his wife is a way of showing that he was breathing but not living; for even after he recovered from his illness (coma), he would end up feeling incomplete. His attitude was that of a conformist, of someone who follows the line that life draws, and that’s it, as any risk taken to have excitement could simply not last forever.

    Marguerite, Olivier’s wife, was on the other hand a frustrated woman: Married to a man she didn’t love because her parents could not afford having her at home anymore, she found in Olivier a friend and nothing more. At his supposed death, she acted as expected from a widow, staying by his side and dressing him on his best robes; however, after the funeral, it can be understood that she never visited Olivier’s tomb, as she didn’t know that he had gotten out of it, when she decided to follow Mr. Simoneau – or else Mme. Gabin would have mentioned it to her friend at the little restaurant. Marguerite gives the impression that she always needed to move on, something that she could achieve only until Mr. Becaille was gone.

    Then, the other characters in the story, representing society at that time and place, behave just as real as members of our society nowadays would: Mme. Gabin taking care of the death scene is what can be seen in close communities where neighbors deeply support each other, Mr. Simoneau offering Marguerite to go with him is what can be expected of a man who loves a widow and extends his hand for her, and the way in which everything just moves on after someone has passed is what happens everywhere (the room being occupied by another couple just the day after Marguerite had left). Life doesn’t stop because a common unimportant person has died.

    So finally, we could interpret Olivier Becaille’s story as a stimulator to live and to achieve in our own lives, unless we would prefer to let things go their own way and just follow along.


Deja tu opinión!!


Sigue el Blog

Follow Rincón de Joss on

Sígueme y encuentra tu próxima lectura!!

Pon tu email para que te lleguen las notificaciones.

Join 1,117 other subscribers


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
%d bloggers like this: