I was reading an excerpt from the book 'The Last Lesson' by the French novelist Alphonse Daudet for my class when I came across the expression 'as quiet as Sunday morning'.

My first guess was that the expression is implying that Sunday mornings are quiet because it's a holiday and everyone is at home, possibly sleeping.

But can the expression also mean that everyone is in the church for the church service (I'm from India, so I know very little about Christianity).

Here's the expression it's proper context -

Usually, when school began, there was a great bustle, which could be heard out in the street, the opening and closing of desks, lessons repeated in unison...But now it was all so still! I had counted on the commotion to get to my desk without being seen; but, of course, that day everything had to be as quiet as Sunday morning.

  • 1
    Your first guess was correct. – Max Williams Feb 2 '18 at 11:44
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    The fact that 'it's a holiday and [most people are] at home, possibly sleeping' shows a distant connection with Christianity. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 2 '18 at 11:54
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    See which year the book was first printed, or which period the story is set in. If it was before the 1970s then it's safe to say that in many European countries it was customary for shops to be closed on a Sunday, there was no school, and the majority of people had the weekend off (or just the Sunday) work. The present-day fixation to fill every waking hour with extra tutoring, an activity or sport was in its infancy, children had time to be bored and be creative. Simpler times. – Mari-Lou A Feb 2 '18 at 12:05
  • The story is set in the days of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871). It's set in the French districts of Alsace and Lorraine which were passed into Prussian hands. (btw regaining them back was the motive for the French entry in the First World War) – user181132 Feb 2 '18 at 12:11
  • @Mari-LouA Since 2002, Sunday morning has been "easy", according to Lionel Ritchie. – Barmar Feb 2 '18 at 21:18

In Daudet's time churchgoing was a social norm, also all shops were closed on Sundays and children were expected to play quietly. So Sunday mornings would have been quiet for both religious and social reasons. Also, of course there were no classes, so a school would be silent!

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The phrase 'Sunday morning' indeed highlights the contrast in the school atmosphere that day with the other days. The usual commotion was nowhere to be seen, instead was replaced by the pin drop silence which prevailed in the 1870s for both religious and social reasons on 'Sundays'.

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