3. What would have happened if she had never lost those jewels? Who knows? Who knows? How strange life is, how fickle! How little is needed to ruin or to save!
This quotation appears near the end of the story, when Mathilde daydreams during her housecleaning. When Mathilde imagines the night of the party, she idealizes it, even though this event led to her downfall. She seems to regret nothing about the night except losing the necklace, and she fails to realize that it was her desire to appear to be someone other than herself that ultimately ruined her. Despite her hardships, Mathilde has failed to learn from her mistakes. Instead of asking herself what would have happened if she hadn’t lost the jewels, she should be asking herself what would have happened if she hadn’t borrowed them in the first place. Mathilde believes that life is fickle, but it is she herself who has acted capriciously and brought about her own dire fate. Shortly after her reverie, she meets Madame Forestier again and learns that the necklace had been worthless. Had she simply told Madame Forestier she lost the necklace, she would have learned right away that it was costume jewelry and would not have sacrificed everything to buy a replacement. Truly, little would have been needed to save Mathilde.