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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