Special Sub-Topic: Papillon, The Man And The Book
|Who wrote the book 'Papillon'?|
Henri Charriere. This is his birth name. He was known as Papillon in the underworld and was called that for many years to follow.
|Who was responsible for the book being written?|
Albertine Sarrazin. Henri (Papillon) read in the newspaper that she had just died. The article said she was known all over the world for her three books about her life in prisons. It made him think he could do the same.
|How did Papillon get his nickname?|
Butterfly tattoo. Papillon is the French word for butterfly. He had one tattooed on his chest. It was his symbol for freedom.
|Who was Papillon convicted of killing?|
Roland le Petit. He was a pimp and a police informant. Papillon always maintained his innocence and said he was set up by the police.
|What was his sentence?|
All of these (Life, Deportment, Hard labour for life). The penalty for murder in the French justice system at the time, was death by the guillotine or life in prison. Life in prison meant hard labour and deportment to French Guiana, a penal colony.
|What is a plan?|
Metal cylinder. This is where the prisoners kept their money.
|Where is a plan carried?|
Large intestine. This is how far inside the body the plan had to be to avoid detection when there was a complete body search.
|Who did Papillon make a life or death pact with?|
Louis Dega. He was convicted of counterfeiting. Dega feared he would be killed for his money, and Papillon needed more money to escape. They made a pact that Papillon would protect Dega, because he was young, strong and good with a knife. Dega accepted his protection by agreeing to use his money for Papillon and himself to escape.
|How many cavales (escapes or escape attempts) were there?|
Nine. The first, when he knocked out the guard at the hospital, the second when he ended up living with the Indians for a time. The third, fourth, fifth and sixth at Baranquilla, the prison he was sent to after he left the Indians and the nuns turned him in. The seventh from Royale, where another prisoner 'ratted on him.' The eighth, from the asylum and the ninth from Diable.
|Where was Papillon's refuge on Diable (Devil's Island)?|
Dreyfus' Bench. Dreyfus was a former prisoner on Diable, also innocent, who found the courage to go on living. He used to sit on a large piece of polished stone on the Northern most point of the island, at least 120 feet above the water, gazing out to sea. It became known as Dreyfus' Bench. Papillon, inspired by Dreyfus, did the same and wondered what Dreyfus used to think about. It was from this location that Papillon figured out how to escape from the island.
|How long was Papillon in the French penal system?|
14 years. October 26, 1931 was the date of Papillon's 'trial' and when he was sentenced to life and deportation. October 18, 1945 was the day he received identification with his name Henri Charriere, date of birth, his picture and the description Resident of Venezuela on it.
|How many wives did Papillon have?|
Four. Nenette in France prior to deportation, Lali and Zoraima, while he was living with the Indians of Guajira on the second cavale and Rita his wife in Venezuela.
|How many children did Papillon believe he had?|
Three. When he left the Indians of Guajira, both Lali and Zoraima were pregnant. However, he left before they gave birth. So there was no way of knowing if both pregnancies came to term and both babies were born alive. He also had a daughter with his wife Rita.
|What country did Papillon live out the rest of his life?|
Venezuela. The country he ended up in after his ninth and last cavale. After a short period of time in a minimum-security prison, he was granted parole for one year. Papillon felt the Venezuelan people took him under their wing and were the first people to treat him as a human being since his nightmare had begun. He applied for citizenship and it was granted.
|What is the biggest difference between the endings in the book and the movie?|
In the book, he escaped with another prisoner. The other prisoner's name was Sylvain. If you have only seen the movie, the book is a must read. The escape from Diable is hardly the end of the story.
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