In all of history, there has often been the question of how does class structure affects the wealth distribution amongst the people, this was a common issue in Paris. In the reading The Ladies Paradise, two old schoolmates and friends from different social standings meet each other after going on their separate ways. It is stated on page 64, “In spite of their different natures, a close comradeship had made them inseparable until the baccalauréat, which they passed, one with distinction, the other just scraping through after two failed attempts.” (Zola 64) As readers, we are at first not told which friend had the high earning distinction and who just barely passed. It is later noted that the poor friend who could not use his diplomas to help his station was the one who passed with honors. After his father’s passing his family was left struggling and despite his education, he could not help them. The friend who barely passed continues to bask in wealth due to his station and not due to his work. He even scoffs at his friend’s 3,000 Francs per year.
Now it would be fair to think that Vallagnosc would be angered at his station, but he appears to just be focused on supporting himself and his mother and sisters the best he can. His friend Mouret, much like many of the wealth often do to the underclass they see as below them, goes on to brag and subliminally mock his old friend. He muses how even though Vallagnosc was educated and well accomplished a simple minded sales boy made more Mouret than Vallagnosc would earn in a year.
How is the treatment of Vallagnosc by Mouret reminiscent of class divides amongst people in France and Europe overall in the 19th Century?