Lac condition humaine

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  • Pages : 8 (1945 mots )
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  • Publié le : 23 septembre 2010
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Plot summary
The novel occurs during a 21 day period mostly in Shanghai, China, and concerns mainly the socialist insurrectionists and people involved. The four protagonists are Ch’en Ta Erh (whose name is spelled Tchen in the French version of the book), Kyo Gisors, the Soviet emissary Katow, and Baron De Clappique. Their individual plights are intertwined throughout the book.
Chen Ta Erh issent to assassinate an authority, succeeds, and is later killed in a failed suicide bombing attempt on Chiang Kaishek. After the assassination he becomes governed by fatality and desires simply to kill, and thereby fulfill his duty as a terrorist, a duty which controls his life. This is largely the result of being so close to death since assassinating a man. He is so haunted by death and hispowerlessness over inevitability that he wishes to die, simply to end his torment.
Kyo Gisors is the commander of the revolt and believes that every person should choose his own meaning, and not be governed by any external forces. He spends most of the story trying to keep power in the hands of the workers rather than the Kuomintang (KMT) army, and resolving a conflict between himself and his wife,May. He is eventually captured and, in a final act of self-determination, chooses to take his own life with cyanide.
Katow had faced execution once before, during the Russian Civil War, and was saved at the last moment - which gives him a feeling of psychological immunity. After witnessing Kyo's death, he watches with a kind of calm detachment as his fellow revolutionaries are taken out one by one,to be thrown alive into the chamber of a steam locomotive waiting outside - intending, when his own turn comes, to use his own cyanide capsule. But hearing two young Chinese activists talk with trembling fear of being burned alive, he gives them the cyanide (there is only enough for two), himself being left to face the more fearsome death - and so he dies in an act of self-sacrifice and solidaritywith weaker comrades.
Baron De Clappique is a French merchant, smuggler, and obsessive gambler. He helps Kyo get a shipment of guns ended, and is later told if he doesn’t leave the city in 48 hours he will be killed. On the way to warn Kyo he gets involved with gambling and cannot stop. He considers gambling “suicide without dying”. Clappique is very good humored and cheerful all the time but issuffering inwardly. He later escapes the city dressed as a sailor.

Characters in "Man's Fate"
* Ch'en Ta Erh – the assassin. Protagonist.
* Kyo Gisors – the leader of the revolt. Protagonist.
* Baron De Clappique – a French merchant, smuggler, and obsessive gambler. Protagonist.
* Old Gisors – Kyo's father, one-time Professor of Sociology at the University of Peking,and an opium addict, acts as a guide for Kyo and Ch’en, Japanease.
* May Gisors – Kyo's wife and a German doctor, born in Shanghai
* Katow – A Russian, one of the organizers of the insurrection, he is burned alive for treason.
* Hemmelrich – A Belgian phonograph-dealer.
* Yu Hsuan – His partner.
* Kama – A Japanese painter, Old Gisors' brother-in-law.
* Ferral –President of the French Chamber of Commerce and head of the France-Asiatic Consortium. He struggles with his relationship with Valerie because he only wishes to possess her as an object.
* Valerie – Ferral's girlfriend.
* Konig – Chief of Chiang Kaishek's Police.
* Suan – Young Chinese terrorist who helped Ch’en, later arrested in the same attack in which Ch'en was killed.
*Pei – Also helped Ch’en.

Major themes
The most noticeable theme is the existential one of choosing one's own meaning. This was exemplified by Kyo, and its alternative was shown in the fatality of Ch'en. Katov for example chooses to give his cyanide pill to two other prisoners and thus accepts being burned alive himself, having saved those two men from suffering.
Another point presented...