This paper examines how the suicide of a teenager illuminated a longstanding ideological divide in fin-de-siècle France. Five days after his arrival at the Maison Paternelle, an internationally renowned, privately-operated establishment for bourgeois boys, Gaston Contard committed suicide. The suicide was quickly sensationalized in the press and resulted in a wide-ranging investigation by public prosecutors who charged the institution's director with illegal imprisonment. Although acquitted, this was a pyrrhic victory as the event marked a critical turning point in the relationship between private power, state control and paternal authority as it pertained to the incarceration and socialization of troubled youths.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science