The deceptively simple style draws on cultural themes like Robinson Crusoe, Shakespeare's Tempest, Rousseau's noble savage, and true-life accounts of survival. You soon get that Narcisse's rescuer, Count Octave de Vallombrun will prove inadequate at his self-imposed task of scholarly unpacking of Narcisse's experience as castaway. The big question is what sort of 'rescue' it was to deprive a man of the identity he had for 18 years.
They marched on through the forest, joylessly and in silence until the dead of night. Then, their bellies empty, they all simply stopped where they were and went to sleep. At daybreak, they took up their march again, arriving around midday at a new bay that Narcisse decided to call Round Bay. Walking at a good pace in a straight line, it couldn't be more than three hours from Round Bay to North Bay. This meant that it was nine or ten hours to the Bay of Abandon. But what good did it do to draw maps in his head? It had been easy to escape the first time, but in the end, he'd had to go back. Did he really want to set off again on an even more back-breaking walk, and risk having to turn round and come back once he reached the Bay of Abandon?