A Social Psychological Analysis of Bertolt Brecht s Mother Courage and Her Children. Abolfazl Ahmadinia. An M.A Thesis. Supervisor: Dr.

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1 A Social Psychological Analysis of Bertolt Brecht s Mother Courage and Her Children Abolfazl Ahmadinia An M.A Thesis Supervisor: Dr. Mahmoud Daram Reader: Dr. Sayyed Rahim Moosavinia A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Letters and Humanities in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of English Literature 2015

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter Page Abstract... i Introduction. 1 Chapter I. Marxist Concept of Alienation.19 Alienation and Identity...22 Alienation and Political..30 Chapter II. A Foucauldian Reading on Mother Courage...43 Power and Knowledge Power and Resistance. 59 Chapter III. Narcissism and Substitute Activity Destructive Narcissistic Patterns...69 Substitute Activity Conclusion....83

3 Introduction Bertolt Brecht s 1941 play, Mutter Courage und ihre kinder, written in German was translated into English under the title of Mother Courage and Her Children by John Willet in Mother Courage deals with a family whose concern is focused on the financial underpinning of the thirty years of war. 2 The play depicts the character s struggle, precisely Mother Courage, to gain profit in a war. This study intends to argue that Mother Courage, the main character of Mother Courage and her Children, fails to provide for her children financially by offering goods to the soldiers of both sides of the war, who are Catholics and Protestants. In other words, her attempt to maintain and secure a way of profit leads to failure. As a result she pays a heavy price by losing all her children in a quest for profit. This is because Mother Courage has certain shortcomings. Her defaults are her state of alienation, lack of knowledge, and self-centeredness, which in a larger zone can be called narcissism. This study borrows from the jargons used in social psychology. Social psychology bears a close relationship to several other fields, especially sociology and psychology. 3 The theory of social psychology deals with human behavior in a social context. Social psychology s main concern is how an individual s behavior and internal states are affected by social stimuli often other persons or in a larger zone, social conditions. 4 The methodology in this study offers three categories related to the field of sociology and psychology. With regard to sociology, Mother Courage s endeavor to gain profit from war falls into the Marxist category of alienated labor. Moreover, her second shortcoming, lack of knowledge, falls within Foucault s sociological perception of power/resistance. This concerns Mother Courage s ignorance and powerlessness. With regard to her third shortcoming, which comes under psychology or more specifically psychoanalysis which is a subdivision of psychology, Mother Courage s state of narcissism or 1

4 self-centeredness needs to be studied. Her narcissistic attitude ends in abandoning her children to satisfy her self-centered passion for gain and profit so far as failing to care responsibly for her children. Mother Courage s first shortcoming derives from her state, in Marxist terms known as alienation. Primarily, alienation, as a social rather than personal defect, is defined by Marxist theories as the feelings of estrangement or of detachment from the self and from others. 5 In a sociological study, alienation is the sense of loss in the context of capital s domination. Alienation also signifies the split between life and labor, the split between the workers physical activity and their humanity. Sociologically, this study focuses on the devastating effects of alienation as a capitalist production on Mother Courage. Since, she is compelled to sell her labor to the capitalist, and she controls neither the product of her labor nor her labor itself. This leads to Mother Courage s sense of alienation. Mother Courage's other default, which falls in a Foucauldian discourse of power deals with her powerless state, represented in the smallness of her capital, shows her in danger of being impoverished because she is too exploited and dehumanized. My argument is that, her failure to save her children results from her state of alienation and "powerlessness". Powerlessness means that she has a very little share in the distribution of power, which ends in the loss of her children. This study intends to argue that the dominant ideology distributes power and deprives Mother Courage of power. Mother Courage's unconscious submission to the call of ideology is the source of her submission to the unequal distribution of power and wealth in a setting of war. Ideology blinds Mother Courage so far as to make her accept her fate. The ideology of earning profit in a capitalist environment limits Mother Courage s resistance, and results in the loss of all her children. Mother Courage is practically powerless to resist those forces which limit or 2

5 channel her life. Borrowing from Foucault, I believe, Mother Courage is powerless because of her lack of knowledge. Mother Courage's other default, which might be studied in the light of Foucauldian discourses is that she suffers from a lack of knowledge. Her lack of knowledge is often seen as her other social shortcoming, that means she is ignorant of the extant power struggle in the community that she lives and works in. In addition, despite her ignorance, her maternal feelings constantly conflicts with her material interests. To illustrate the concept of lack of knowledge, I would like to suggest that Mother courage acts as a war profiteer and tries to make a profit from war; even though, she does not realize that, in a capitalist society, those at the top of the hierarchy of power have knowledge and power; and therefore, have a real chance of profiting from war. Furthermore, she does not have the required knowledge in order to be able to exercise her own subversive power against the ruling class. In addition to her social shortcomings, Mother Courage shows the symptoms of a psychological psychosis which can be regarded as a personal shortcoming. In my psychoanalytical study of the character of Mother Courage, the concept of narcissism becomes crucial, since many aspects of her behavior are characterized as narcissistic or self-centered. Mother Courage s last shortcoming, her self-centeredness or what is called in the field of psychoanalysis as narcissism implies that she is deeply self-centered, because she constantly offers her valuation of the self and her indifference towards others. Primarily, Mother Courage s valuation of the self and narcissism is revealed by being occupied by herself and her interests instead of paying attention to her children who drag her wagon through the battlefield to satisfy her. My reading; therefore, sees Mother Courage as an inhuman, war mongering sutler for her participation in war, who is willing to trundle her wares to war in the hope of profit, even if it 3

6 means exploiting others. Despite her apparent surge for the protection of her children, Mother Courage, in fact, becomes an accomplice of war where her indifference towards the children might seem deliberate and persistent. She exists only to serve her own needs and desires. Not only her children but others like peasants and soldiers mean nothing to Mother Courage. Her brandy not only nourishes and comforts the soldiers, but also inspires them to march madly to their slaughter. Alienation This study suggests that Mother Courage s attempt to maintain and secure financial profit leads to a tragic failure because her endeavor falls into the Marxist category of alienated labor. In the first chapter, I have tried to unpack the elements of Marx s theorizing of alienation, ideology, greed, physical and mental exhaustion, the loss of sense of utility, and to show how these are frequently strained in sociology. The first section, alienation and identity, deals with the psychological effects of capitalism and the attitudes of Mother Courage in a capitalist society. As the name of the section bears, alienation is to be considered as a process which involves a crisis in identity and can lead to marginality. This section also reflects the exemplar of alienation like the process of consumption, and considers greed as the motive of most capitalist actions. Section two, entitled alienation and political, deals with the feeling of an individual that he is not a part of the political process. Moreover, the politically alienated believes that his social or political actions make no difference. This section also employs Marx s notions of four expressions of identification that cause alienation. These are man s relations to his product, his productive activity, other man and the 4

7 species. 6 At last the chapter also elaborates on the types of feelings which are the symptoms of political alienation such as powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, and estrangement. 7 The concept of alienation is clearly demonstrated as a capitalist production which has linkage to applications particularly in the areas of personal and political issues. Personal alienation is relevant to the question of identity. Theoretically, personal alienation has symptoms that can be traced in the conduct of the individual. Mother Courage shows these symptoms which this study will pinpoint. As a process, personal alienation results in a crisis of identity and can lead to the individual's marginality. On the other hand, political alienation is an individual s feeling that he is not part of the political process and that his actions make no difference. Since capitalism plays an important role in the production of alienation, Marx offers a theoretical discussion of the devastating effect of capitalist production on human beings, on their physical and mental states, and on their social processes of which they are a part. 8 Each one of these aspects personal, and political will be discussed in the first chapter. I intend to utilize the theory of alienation maintained by Marx in my argument in two ways: Personal and political. With regard to personal alienation, I intend to employ Marx s theoretical propositions on an individual s state of alienation. Primarily, the theory of alienation is to be seen in relation to the individual s sensual experience, where the loss of sense of utility and her inability to change her conditions are at stake. One instance of a person's sensual experience under the influence of alienation is when that person, in this case Mother Courage, is subject to irrational passions such as greed. Marx sees greed both as one of the main characteristics of capitalists qualities and the motive of most capitalist actions. 9 He asserts that greed is a function of alienation as a result of loss of personal identity due to the effects of the division of labor. 10 5

8 With regard to political alienation, Marx identifies four factors that cause alienation. Ollman, in his book Alienation: Marx s conception of man in capitalist society provides the notions developed by Marx for alienation. These are, according to Marx, man s relations to his product, his productive activity, other man, and the species. 11 First, with regard to man's relation to his product, alienation is caused by the separation of the worker from the product of his labor, where the worker has no control over the products he produces. Instead, products are controlled by the capitalist. 12 By man s relations to his product, I mean Courage s activity mortifies her soul and devours her children, in the sense that Mother Courage s canteen exercises power over her, and makes her dependent and vulnerable. It appears in the third scene that Mother Courage at first intends to sell her canteen to ransom Swiss Cheese s life. But later on, not only does she mean to sell the canteen but also to mortgage it. Her canteen seems more valuable than her son s life. While at the end of the play she takes up and hauls the damaged canteen which is almost empty. I think this image of emptiness of canteen reflects her state of alienation. Second is alienation in terms of the process of production, which is concerned with the fact that the work provides no satisfaction but is only a source of physical exhaustion and mental debasement for the worker. Marx allocates a particular place to man s relationship to his activity. 13 Thus the consciousness which man has of his activity is transformed in a way that the species life becomes a means for him, and man s consciousness is used to direct his efforts for survival. By man s relation to his productive activity, it fosters the impression of Mother Courage who has been exploited due to the means of production. Because, capitalism maintains the means of production through the ruin of labor by a labor process that dehumanizes and alienates Mother Courage. 6

9 Third, the worker is alienated from other human beings because his chief link with them is the commodities they exchange or produce. The transformation of human labor into a commodity is among the major alienating forces in the capitalist world. 14 By alienation to other man, I intend to say that Mother Courage is isolated from other human beings and feels indifferent to others. For instance, when the Chaplain needs some linen to bandage some peasants whose farmhouse has been demolished, Mother Courage s daughter Kattrin wants to provide him with some shirts from the wagon, but Mother Courage refuses to give up those clothes, declaring that the peasants are unable to purchase. Lastly, in treating species alienation, Marx gives a favored place to man's relation to his activity. For Marx, species is the category of those potentialities which mark man off from other living creatures. 15 In species alienation, activity is the chief means through which the individual expresses and develops his power, and is distinguished from other s activity by its range, adaptability, skill and intensity. Mother Courage as a capitalist has something in common with the rulers which admits her higher state of position in comparison to the other little people. She oppresses and exploits others. For example, we have seen that she converts her children into draft animals to pull the canteen. I mean, her children contribute their labor to Mother Courage s work, much as the soldiers contribute their labor to the project of their rulers. Moreover, Marx discusses the aspects of political alienation as powerlessness, meaningfulness, the lowering of norms, and estrangement. 16 First, political powerlessness is the feeling of an individual whose political actions have no influence in determining the course of events. 17 This feeling of powerlessness arises from and contributes to the belief that the community is not controlled by the mass, but rather by a small number of powerful and influential persons who are in charge to control. Mother Courage acts as a powerless in the sense 7

10 that she cannot make any difference. For instance, Mother Courage becomes astonished to hear her son's voice again, but she is powerless to take Eilif away from The General. Mother Courage says: My eldest boy Eilif. It s two years, since I lost sight of him. They (the soldiers) pinched him from me on the road. (ii ) The second type is the feelings of political meaninglessness which is revealed when political decisions seem unpredictable through Courage s perception. Mother Courage has a kind of perception of war that she may both reap the profit and nourish her children. She does not think that her participation results in perishing her children. She does not understand the deep meaning of the Sergeant s comment: Like the war to nourish you? Have to feed it something too. (i ) The third aspect is the sense of the lowering of an individual s political ethics which occurs when standards of political behavior are violated in order to achieve some goals. 18 This is likely to occur when the political structure prevents the attainment of political objectives through institutionally prescribed means. Mother Courage points out that the rulers among whom she includes the popes do not carry out this war for the faith, but for profit. In scene eight, when the Chaplain rebukes Mother Courage as a hyena of the battlefield who lives from war, Courage mentions that he too lives from her business, and so from war. Finally, Marx considers estrangement to be the end result and thus the heart of political alienation. 19 From personal alienation s perspective: alienated individual may feel disconnected from himself. In the play, despite Mother Courage s endeavor to gain profit from the war, it seems that she is not happy with her business anymore. I can say that not only does Mother Courage affirm her world; but also, she negates and criticizes it. This is because of the restraints 8

11 and restrictions that are imposed by the authority. She is represented as an oppressed woman pressed hard by the patriarchal society. In scene four, I think the subversive message of Mother Courage is embedded in the song of the Grand Capitulation. 20 Lack of knowledge In this study of Mother Courage and Her Children, my particular reading implies that Mother Courage fails in her attempt to maintain a way of profit, and at the same time save her children from the war. Mother Courage s shortcoming; i.e., her lack of knowledge, which theoretically is the cause of her failure, and the reason why she loses her children will be discussed in the second chapter. This chapter is classified into two sections. I have tried to borrow such elements of Foucault's theory as discourse, ideology, power, knowledge, and resistance, to show how these can be used to read Mother Courage in the light of Foucauldian sociology. The first section, Power and Knowledge, deals with Mother Courage s lack of knowledge with regard to her state of powerlessness in the power structure of the society. As the name of the section bears, Foucault s concepts of power and knowledge might be applied to the actions of Mother Courage, when she tries to make a profit, and at the same time save her children. Primarily, Mother Courage s endeavor falls into Foucault s category of powerlessness, which derives from her lack of knowledge. The section inevitably reflects the interpellation of the subject, as a docile body, by the dominant power, feeding on her lack of knowledge. Section two, entitled Power and Resistance employs Foucault s notions of power and resistance, to analyze the imposition of power by the ideology of the rulers in the process of domination and subjugation. 9

12 Mother Courage s resistance to the call of the ideology of the hegemony of the dominant power becomes relevant, even though she is ignorant of such calls. In Discipline and Punish and the first volume of The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault offers an interpretation of the understanding of power and of knowledge. He elaborates on knowledge which enables a more continuous and pervasive control of what people do which in turn provides further possibilities for more intrusive inquiry and disclosure. 21 Thus, Mother Courage is ignorant and this lack of knowledge prohibits her from a pervasive control over others, so she is incapable to exercise power. The army is to be regarded as a powerful agent which imposes power over powerless people like Mother Courage by taking away her sons for the war. Mother Courage gives priority to profit rather than her filial love and her affiliation to the peasants, the little people, a fact which is derived from her lack of knowledge, or in Marxist terms, class consciousness. Mother Courage s obsessions are revealed by her singing a business song to stimulate the soldiers to buy her merchandise. (i ) Then, I intend to provide an explanation for the ways in which ideology and discourse function to convince people to accept systems of social inequality as acceptable and immune from social transformation. I will focus primarily on the interplay between ideology and discourse. Hence, theories of ideology and discourse are used to explain the intersections between the social production of knowledge and the perpetuation of power relations. 22 Foucault delineates that where discourse is mobilized to reinforce systems of social power it functions as ideology. 23 I intend to examine language and power across a variety of institutional settings, showing how institutions are formed and shaped by discourse and how they have the capacity to make and impose discourses and therefore impose discipline. 10

13 Alongside discourse, Fairclough considers ideology as a discursive tool serving the interests of certain social groups. My reason for the choice of discourse is that the exercise of power is achieved through ideology, and more particularly through the ideological workings of language. My assumption of ideology is Althusserian. I aim at employing repressive state apparatuses, since in my study the army functions as a force of repressive execution and intervention in the interests of the ruling class mainly by the capitalists, I mean, those who hold power. Employing force, threat, execution to take Mother Courage s children are concrete examples supporting my hypothesis. The exercise of power in a discourse is revealed where the participants possess unequal share of power. Sergeant: (Blocking the way.) Who are you? Mother Courage: Business folk. Sergeant: Who are you with, you trash? Eilif: Second Finnish Regiment. (i ) Foucault proposes that there will always be resistance, revolt, and struggle against socially imposed constraints, renewed dialogue and the transformation of social forms. 24 Foucault states that where there is power there is resistance. 25 In order for there to be a relation where power is exercised, there has to be someone who resists. In Mother Courage, there is much struggle and repression between the rulers and Mother Courage when she shows resistance. She offers resistance against the rulers. Each of her criticisms has some authority at its target. Her claim to material fulfillment for herself is on the dramatic level a revolt against the rulers and their agents in the military, and on the symbolic level, against the domination of the patriarchy and capitalism. For example, when the Sergeant tries to recruit Eilif and Swiss Cheese for the war Mother Courage resists. She says (angrily) Nowt doing, sergeant. Yours is no trade for my kids. (i ) 11

14 In his book Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, Foucault puts forth the systematic disciplining processes which are employed by the authorities to maintain a set of regulations so as to keep the masses under the control. 26 In so doing, with the proper employment of power in disciplinary institutions, the controlled subjects function as the authorities demand. Foucault points out four types of spaces which are registered in the distribution of power to produce docile bodies. Foucault differentiates the spaces of the distribution of power among the controlled subjects based on the goal they target in the system. The four types of spaces are: a space which requires enclosure or a place of disciplinary monotony, where conflicts with authorities must be avoided at all cost. 27 The second type of space deals with the process of elementary locationing and partitioning of the disciplined subject. 28 The aim of this space is to establish presences and absences to know how and where to locate the individual and to enable the authority, at each moment, to supervise the conduct of each individual and to calculate an individual s qualities and merits. This disciplinary space is, in fact, a procedure aimed at knowing and mastering the subjects. The third type of space is intended to correspond not only to the need to supervise, but also, to create a useful locus or place. 29 Here, a mechanism is needed to provide a hold over the bodies by dissipating the individual s illegal behaviors. The last type of space enhances disciplinary control through ranking and occupancy in classification. The place is neither the territory (unit of domination), nor the place (unit of residence). In Foucault s opinion: It individualizes bodies by a location that does not give them a fixed position, but distributes them in a network of relations. 30 As a whole, Mother Courage is considered as a docile body since the disciplinary space provides a procedure aims at knowing and mastering her conducts. It is clear, when the soldiers fail to recruit Mother Courage s sons for the army. The authorities project is to put Mother 12

15 Courage and her family in a panoptic space to control them. They come to know that she persistently tries to sell her wares to the army. In so doing they fabricate a plot to buy a belt buckle and distract her by haggling over the price taking away her son Eilif. They warn Mother Courage Like the war to nourish you? Have to feed it something too. (i ) Therefore, Mother Courage is considered as a docile body since the disciplinary space allocated to her provides the opportunity for the authorities to know and master her conduct and her fate. Narcissism My reading offers that Mother Courage s attempt to maintain and secure financial profit leads to a tragic failure because her attempt falls into the psychological category of narcissism. Mother Courage s shortcoming; i.e., her self-centeredness, a characteristic of narcissism, which theoretically is the cause of her failure, and the reason why she loses her children will be discussed in this chapter. It is because of her self-centeredness that she abandons her children to the war and satisfies her self-centered passion for gain of profit and as far as failing to care responsibly for her children. This chapter has two subcategories. The first subcategory is entitled The Destructive Narcissistic Pattern, which employs different types of narcissism. The characteristics of narcissism are borrowed from the assumptions declared by Otto F. Kernberg. Moreover, through employing Freud s theory of narcissism, I analyze the features of narcissism that are applicable to Mother Courage's the mental state of Mother Courage. The other section Substitute activity deals with the theory of personality maintained by Kurt Lewin to elaborate on the actions done by Mother Courage to find substitutes for the original deeds when she is incapable to resist with authorities. 13

16 Narcissism is categorized in two groups. 31 First, narcissism is one of the forms of libido. Libido determines an intermediate phase between erotic and object choice. With regard to erotic choice, I mean to argue that Mother Courage s sexual interest in the Cook is found a bit wrapped in Freudian symbolism, since Mother Courage keeps the Cook s pipe in her pocket and becomes attracted to Cook s character. With regard to object choice, we can see that the canteen stands as Mother Courage s fourth child, because she makes a living by it. Mother Courage s affiliation to her canteen is apparent in the third scene, where she abandons Swiss Cheese, and defends her canteen. Second, narcissism consists of extensions of the self referring to the attitudes and feelings of the person and the indifference towards others. 32 Mother Courage s valuation of the self is revealed by being occupied by herself and her interests instead of paying attention to her children who drag her wagon through the battlefield to satisfy her. On the other hand, her indifference towards the others appears throughout the play. The soldiers mean nothing to Mother Courage. Mother Courage does not give any warning to the soldiers to stay away from war. Otto F. Kernberg in his book, Aggressivity, Narcissism, and Self-Destructiveness in the Psychotherapeutic Relationship, writes extensively on narcissistic disorders, believing that they were a subtype of borderline personality disorders. In his definition of narcissism, he offers specific behaviors that can be used to classify someone as having a pathological narcissistic personality: a. Indifference to others which itself classifies into extensions of the self, and lack of empathy. b. The inflated self which leads to grandiosity

17 The essential pathological character traits of those with narcissism center on pathological self-love, pathological object love, and pathological superego. 34 I begin to elaborate each of these categories in the following. Primarily, pathological self-love is expressed in excessive self-reference. These patients also manifest grandiosity reflected in a sense of superiority, recklessness, and ambitions that are inordinate in view of what they can actually achieve. They are emotionally shallow especially in relation to others. Of all these indicators, grandiosity is the most characteristic of pathological self-love. 35 Mother Courage s self-reference is revealed when she pursues her own self-interest at the cost of her children. Second, pathological object love is manifested as defending the self by means of exploitation of others. Another manifestation of pathological object love is that they are unable to empathize with others. 36 Courage's business is bound up with the misery of others. We can see the inhumanity and exploitation from the beginning of the play. Indeed, her happiness is purchased at the price of the unhappiness of another. Finally, a pathological superego feels a sense of emptiness or of being alone. They are usually incapable of learning from others, have intense stimulus hunger, and feel that life is meaningless. 37 Brecht expresses that Mother Courage is a profiteer who sacrifices her children to her commercial interests and cannot learn from her experience. 38 In A Dynamic Theory of Personality, Kurt Lewin introduces the concept of substitution. Substitution is in regard to psychological needs as well as with reference to bodily needs such as hunger and sex. The greater the need, the stronger seems to be the tendency to substitution. 39 He claims that substitute actions arise often in situations in which one cannot reach a certain goal, situation in which a psychobiological tension exists. 40 In regard to psychoanalysis it is 15

18 important that the similarity or connection of two facts the original and substitute action is not sufficient evidence for the statement that one is a substitute for the other. Whether a substitute is present or not cannot be decided from the external appearance of the events. It is necessary in each individual case to see whether the two facts have a certain dynamic connection. 41 For example, the little boy threatens and scolds the larger boy whom he cannot beat on the playground. In this sense, it has relevance to the relation of Mother Courage and her daughter Kattrin. When Kattrin gets back from the town with a wound above her eye Mother Courage curses the war in revenge. Substitution plays a large role in Mother Courage and her Children as a whole. We find substitution in very different forms. When the needs and wishes are blocked, a kind of substitute satisfaction of just these needs may occur. Psychoanalytically, the tension system of the original action would be discharged through the substitute action, either completely or in part. 42 In all cases, Mother Courage diverts her wishes to a substitute goal because she is afraid and powerless to resist against the army. For instance, Mother Courage threatens and scolds the Sergeant whom she cannot beat. She pulls the knife against the Sergeant to keep them backward with the purpose of saving her sons not joining the army. The original activity here is to plunge the knife into the Sergeant s heart. Due to her state of powerlessness, Mother Courage strives for a less adequate goal by just threatening the Sergeant. (i ) The play includes such characters as Mother Courage, Eilif, Swiss Cheese, Kattrin, Yvette Pottier, The Chaplain, The Cook, a Recruiting officer and a Sergeant. Mother Courage, a canteen woman, pulls her cart with her three children Eilif, Kattrin, and Swiss Cheese trading with the soldiers and attempting to make profit from the war. 16

19 We are first introduced to a Recruiting Officer and a Sergeant, who complain about the difficulty of recruiting soldiers for the war. Mother Courage's cart is pulled on and, distracting her with the promise of a transaction, the Recruiting officer convinces Eilif, Mother Courage s son, to enlist and join the army. The family s workforce is reduced because one of the children is now gone. A few years pass by, Swiss Cheese takes a job as the regiment's paymaster. We notice that there is suddenly a Catholic attack and Swiss Cheese hides the regiment's paybox, which contains the regiment s payroll. Swiss Cheese is followed when he attempts to return the paybox to his General but is captured. Mother Courage tries to come up with the ransom for Swiss Cheese. She mortgages her cart to Yvette, the camp prostitute, who is involved with an old colonel and Mother Courage tries to bargain with the soldiers using the money from mortgaging the cart. But Mother Courage hesitates for too long trying to negotiate a lower ransom. Finally, the drums roll in the distance announcing that Swiss Cheese has been executed. Soldiers bring the body to the canteen for identification, but Mother Courage denies knowing him. A few years later, Mother Courage s canteen wagon is outside a village. The Chaplain needs some linen to bandage some peasants whose farmhouse has been demolished. Kattrin wants to provide him with some shirts from the wagon, but Mother Courage refuses to give up those clothes, declaring that the peasants have no money for clothes. Mother Courage asks The Chaplain about the continuation of war. She wonders if she should buy more supplies while they are at a reasonable price. The Chaplain convinces her that the war will go on, so she decides to invest in more stock for her cart and sends her mute daughter Kattrin to town. Mother Courage curses the war because Kattrin returns with a wound above her eye having collected some merchandise. Immediately afterwards, she appears at the height of prosperity, dragging her new 17

20 wares along a highway. She now praises the war as a good provider and sings a song about the profitability of war over peace. At the begging of the play, The Sergeant becomes successful in seducing Eilif into the army. Eilif is praised by the General for slaughtering some peasants and stealing their cattle. But, many years afterward, voices announce that peace has been declared. Unaware of the peace time, he slaughters some peasants and steals their cattle. Eilif is executed for that. Mother Courage never finds out about her son s death. At the end of the play the war is resumed again and Mother Courage goes to the town to buy supplies. Out of the woods come a Catholic Lieutenant and some soldiers who take one of the peasants with them as a guide. The Catholic regiment readies for a surprise attack. Kattrin is awaken by their search party. The peasants convince themselves that they can do nothing but pray. Quietly Kattrin climbs on the roof and begins to beat a drum to awaken the townspeople and warn them of the siege. The soldiers shoot Kattrin. Before she dies, she is successful in awakening the town. She saves the town. Toward morning Mother Courage sings a lullaby over her daughter's corpse and pays the peasants to bury Kattrin and harnesses herself alone to the cart. She declares: I must get back into business (xii. 41) depicting her failure to learn from her experience and the fact that she, even in her greatest misery, learns nothing. The cart rolls back into action, but it is easier to pull now, since there is so little left in it to sell. 18

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