In a rural community of grinding economic and spiritual poverty, where poaching and delivering bootleg liquor supplement meagre incomes and love is absent, Mouchette is endlessly abused. She cares selflessly and without thanks for her family as her mother slowly dies, whilst she is humiliated by a teacher for singing out of tune, is called a slut by a shopkeeper and even, as she is about to speak to a young man who smiled at her on the dodgems, is slapped by her harsh, judgemental father. Finally, having sought to help the epileptic poacher Arsene, she is raped by him. Even then, she later protects him. Mouchette may not understand all that she experiences but nor is she a helpless victim. She cares for her mother and especially for her infant sibling. Ostracised by her cruel classmates, she retaliates, throwing mud at them. She also avenges herself against the woman who speaks with pious reverence of the dead and who offers Mouchette a funeral shroud for her mother and a dress for herself.