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In La faute de l'abbé Mouret by Émile Zola, Jeanbernat threatens to cut off Frère Archangias' ear (book 3, chapter 5) and then does so (final chapter).

Jeanbernat has clear reasons for hating Archangias, but why does his assault take this form? Is it some literary or biblical reference that I'm missing (Malchus does not seem relevant) or is it something in the culture of the Midi?

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Because Archangias denied Jeanbernat's niece Albine happiness and marriage (and ultimately indirectly made her commit suicide), by malignantly influencing priest Mouret to stay away from her.

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    Hi and welcome to Literature Stack Exchange. The question asks, "Jeanbernat has clear reasons for hating Archangias, but why does his assault take this form?" Your answer comments on the motive but not on the form of the assault. Could you please edit your answer to provide insight on that aspect as well?
    – Tsundoku
    May 3, 2022 at 10:28

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