Kelcie Torzilli February 22, 2014
Western Civilization from 1715 The Great Cat Massacre
Although the title of this book strikes the reader as unusual it begins to make complete sense once it is read. This book is a series of short essays by Darnton. The second section, which is titled “Workers Revolt: The great Cat Massacre of the Rue Saint-Sérverin” brings the reader directly into the views of the working class during the 1700s in France. This style of writing allows situations to be viewed through the lens of those who are experiencing it, making for a more interesting read. The context of this portion of the book truly gives an in depth account of the emotions and conditions that peasants would meet with while being treated as inferior to even the animals by the masters.
It can be said that Darnton included this portion of the book to show the customs of the French during this time as well as to be able to see the way that the working class lived. From the reading the working class was the base of society, doing the work for the noblemen and everyday citizens. In this section it involves a particular situation with two men that are apprentices in a noble house. Apprentices would learn their way into a position of a trade and gain their success this way. Unfortunately, the apprenticeship “program” was not the most enjoyable experience. These men were not allowed to sit at a table for meals, they had to sleep in freezing rooms that were dirty and horrid, and were forced to eat the food scraps that even the cats rejected. These men were almost treated like slaves, they had to wake up early and run errands all day with no appreciation as well. This lifestyle was not very pleasant to say the least. While this section opens with the horrid living conditions of these apprentice men, Jerome and Léveillé, it gets into further detail...