Marie Cardinal's La Clé Sur La Porte
English Summary - Fifth Section

Les Jeunes et Les Vetements

The Daltons appreciated current fashions and the way you dressed was a sure way to get accepted into their group. Marie comments that in England and the USA you could go out nude with a funnel and a peacock feather on your head and the people would not take any notice, or at least not like the French would. In France, image is everything. The clothes of the May 68 protests are adopted by nearly all the youths. For adults that look still reminds them of the rebellion even though it does not have the same political meaning. It is just an exclusive thing for the youths. The rich youths though do still buy trendy Jean Bouquin clothes.

Jean-Françoise often talks about his best 'finds' on the Metro or elsewhere. He claims that he did not know the orginal meaning of the look and he just dresses like that because he is against ties and crocodile skin handbags, but Marie says that he does know and that he wanted to adopt the rebellious image.


Bertrand is the third Dalton. He is eighteen, big, strong and allready looks like a man of twenty two. He is also slovenly, dirty, weary looking and does more drugs than the rest. Marie knows that he has left home because his parents did not want him to dedicate his life to being an artist, probably because they did not think it would take him far in life. He showed Marie some drawings, which whilst were not especially original, had a boldness of line in creating the world in which he grew in. He defintely liked drawing and knew how to. He said that he could spend a whole day drawing, not doing anything else, it excites him. Marie thought that his parents were probably too old or too simple-minded to understand his love of drawing.

One day Marie found some work with filmakers looking for an animater, that would be suitable for Bertrand. She telephoned Jean-Françoise's thinking that he would be there but he had recently moved back in with his parents. Jean-Françoise passed the message on and Bertrand arrived as happy as can be. After telephoning the company and getting an interview, he transformed. He asked for his hair to be cut because he thought they would get the wrong image. However Marie said that it was young men and lads that worked in those sort of jobs anyway and that she could not, his hair was different to Grégoire's. He came back an hour later with clean, cut hair that left Marie open-mouthed. He was excited about leaving his parent house because whilst he emphasised that they were kind, they were getting on his nerves. He continued on about his parents saying that they were very young when they had him (sixteen and eighteen,) which Marie fely queasy imagining. They are thirty four and thirty six now. He said his mother is pretty and his dad is fighting fit. His dad is well respected in middle class circles and owns a lot of property. He does not annoy him that much, only insisting that he gets in by seven thirty each night and washes in the morning. He wants Bertrand to become an architect or engineer. Listening to his story, Marie saw Bertrand as a child for the first time. She wonder how such 'big kids' would behave with their own children, how they are treated like a child at home or maybe even ignored. She draws a parrallel with Sophie in themes of children who become adults too quickly and parents who are old too late. The issue confuses her and she wonders whether she is doing the right thing in how she treats her children. She does not feel disspossessed by what goes on just that now she feels powerless.

On the day of the interview Bertrand was all dressed up. He was worried that his multicoloured boots would put them off but Marie assured that they would find them lighthearted. He went back to Jean-Françoise's house but decided not to wear them in the end. He returned with samples of his work and asked Marie to comment. Marie said that they were good and that he had picked a good selection, covering all the different aspects of work that he would do. If he did not get the job, he said that he would do drugs. Marie did not comment. He was nervous about not being accepted and would not stop pacing around. The job involved making a publicity film. Marie piped up that it takes a long time to get into the 'stupid' system (mocking the 'everything is stupid attitude'), Bertrand replied that so long as he earnt his way in life and was able to move out from the house of his vieux and that he was doing what he liked he did not mind. Marie reflected that calling them vieux when they were less than forty was a little absurd.

Bertrand got the job but came straight back worried because they had allready given him an assignment that he felt he could not do in the two day deadline. Marie said that they would not give him something that he could not do and that he should not be so negative. He then remarks how strange it is that he has come to Marie to talk to and that being around the older generation is starting to make him want money. Charlotte started to make fun of her for trying to be young and a young girl who liked Marie stood up for her not understanding the joke. They all laughed . Marie believes that it is true that the youth have difficulty communicating with adults. When one of her friends visit, nothing will happen. The children wont talk, they put their music on and sprawl around on the floor. Maries friends always reach the conclusion that they exploit her. She loves nothing more than to spend evenings talking to them but she knows they distrust their elders.

In the end Bertrand lost the job. She never saw him again learning through the others that what he did was not good enough. Some time later she had forgot about Bertrand and was dining with the person who was his employer when he asked why Bertrand had not been in and that they had been waiting for him for quite a while. They had to give the job to someone else. Marie believes that if Bertrand, talented as he is, did not do the job it was because he did not have confidence in himself and that he wants to put himself down in one way or another. She does not believe, as the employer did, that it was laziness but rather the influence of drugs and his unbalanced mind.


Marie could never bear Dody the forth Dalton. He is deceitful and stupid. He was not even sixteen when his parents allowed him to do whatever he wanted. He is from the Midi region of France. He sponges off others travelling all over Europe without a penny to his name. He is always clean, a ring of frizzy hair on his head and cowlike eyes in an eagle like face. He always seems as though he has nothing to do which annoys her. When he used to be a leather worker she tried to encourage him by buying his bags and allowed him to work in the house. The result was that he abandoned it. She tried to put up with this but she cannot and now simply does not want to see him again.

One day they were speaking about the neccessity of communicating and Dody said that you do not need words, you can make people understand with just your eyes. Marie said that was allright for simple things or people who know you well but what about everyone else? He replied that he does not take any notice of anyone else. Marie does admit that he is silent and smiling but she does not see anything special in his eyes.

Just after Marie had evicted the Daltons, Jean-Françoise set off to the Belgian/Holland border with three hundred grams of hash. Since it was too much for personal use Marie suspected it was for trafficking. He had often said to her that to become a dealer is his ideal. She thought that he was just teasing her. His capture by the customs was almost a suicide in that he did not blend in. He was the only teenager in a nerly empty train. Instead of hiding it in a corner of a carriage he instead kept in his coat pocket. As soon as they passed the border they searched only him. The news spread fast that he was in jail in Maubeuge and his mother took it very badly. Marie compared him to a war veteran having another story to talk about and the others laughed. He has been out of prison, he has cut his hair in an odd style, to join a school. He will be judged later. She thinks that his mother can get him freed for six or even thousand francs saying that she is unwell without him and by visiting him often.

Les Soeurs Brugnoli

It is through the sisters that Marie knows about the Daltons. They get on well with everyone and chatter all day long knowing all the gossip and especially relishing in real life tragedies. However they often embellish and so you have to be careful. Cécile is nearly seventeen, tall, thin with fleshy buttocks. She is feminine through and through having brown eyes, pouting lips and short curly black hair. She minces around and often hides smiles behind an open hand. Shes is well mannered and always stays in contact ringing Marie for chats. She has an irresistable infantile air wich has completely disarmed Grégoire. Her mother and father are Italian and left Italy for reasons which Marie is unsure of. Probably because her father is from a very conservative, traditional family and her mother from the opposite and so left so as to not ruffle feathers between them. They had three daughters and one son, of which Ceçile was the youngest. Eight years ago their mother abandoned them all. Afterwards she used Ceçile as a form of blackmail. Marie thinks that she wanted to keep Cécile with her as her mother took her with her, staying in all sort of shabby hotels until her father found them. Her mother drank a lot. Cécile insists that she does not have bad memories of this part of her life, she loves her mother. She had said recently, with a happy disposition, that she felt sure that her mother would return soon as she had been sent her a postcard for her birthday from Switzerland. This had been the first time in eight years that she had got in touch.

Anne her sister is soon going to be twenty years old. She has an average figure, long black hair, straight nose and blue eyes surrounded by thick black eyelashes. Marie thinks she is beautiful. She is not at all 'trendy' rather being quite tomboyish dressing in frayed jeans and baggy shirts, speaking quickly and rather coarsely. At twenty she has never flirted but only because of her father who has an overpowering but loving affect on her. She longs to go off on an adventure with a man. She knows her complexity. She said to Marie once that all throughout her infancy she listened to her parents argueing.

All the sisters are extremely lively, speaking without constraints. They even manage to be funny when they talk about their emotional problems or their fathers debts. Their father is somewhat detached from reality, believing all that is worth anything in this world left with his wife. He lets his daughters run the house with no one to manage the finances. He would not resist the demands of the lads, giving them all they wanted including scooters, clothes, holdays etc. He never payed his bills and avoided taxes. Now he is in horrible debt and his debtors are starting to appear. Last week a sign on the flat announced that they were going to take away the furniture.

They had arrived laughing. What made them laugh the most was that on the ballif's list was an electric guitar which belonged to Jean-Françoise Blais who had left it there one day. Marie said that he would claim it back from them but they replied that if they did not have it then he cannot take it, she said that he would find out the price and add it to their fathers debts. They put up feeble objections. They then said that the furniture was horrible anyway and never understood why their father was so attached to it. The debt collectors left them a chair and a bed each. The worst of the debts was from the furniture in the kitchen. Their father had wanted to invite a certain bourgeoise family to dinner and impress them and so did up the kitchen installing the very best and never paying. Now they are reclaiming nearly double the price. Anne and Cécile were happy to see it go. They both work one as a writer and the other looks after children, each earning one thousand francs and five hundred francs respectively which they give straight to their father. Each month they have to present a soiled sanitary towel to him.


There is a group of girls who have been regulars in the house for some time. Sarah is one of them. She is pretty but not fashionably pretty being a little too plump to be the dish of the day. Her real name is Louisette. One day she announced that she should be called Sarah and it stuck. She is fifteen and an Isrealite. She has perfect black hair that falls over her shoulders shining like a sheet of silk. Under her brown skin she has a pink shadows of liveliness, health and youth. Marie particularily likes Sarah. She is not miserable, being a good student and taking on others problems. She has a passion for painting. When she arrives at the house she goes straight to Charlottes room where she got changed into a dress that that Dorothée had brought back from Beirut and ties her hair up. She looked good the way she dressed. She did this as this was the way she liked to dress, it was not to show off infront of the others. Once she was dressed how she liked she then read or talked to the others. She did everyones homework being as good in maths as she was in Russian but especially she painted, liking colours. She showed some of her pieces and they were interesting.

Around the time of the eviction of the Dalton, Marie was very on edge. She expressed that she was fed up with the people who came to the house just to get a meal. She had left the key in the door for those who needed somewhere to go to express themselves and that the group that Sarah was in was like a parasite in that they never left. Sarah was uncomfortable about this and explained that Marie did not know just how much their families stifled them. She loves her parents but never speaks to them, being at the house allows her to be free. Her parents have decided her future allready even though she wants to paint. There is no argueing over it, they want her to do her Section C which prepares her for all the careers which they have in mind. Her mother speaks to her like a little girl. Because they are kind and their only fault is that they wont understand she has chosen to wait until she is old enough to take control herself. Marie thinks that Sarah is wise and even though she and Marie hardly speak with each other, her presence relieves her. Without being too haughty, she takes on responsibilities. For example as regards Charlottes studies, Sarah is a year ahead of her. Often she talks to Charlotte about things that she found out about the course giving tips. Charlotte listen as well, wanting to understand.