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Katz und Maus The analysis of Kapitnleutnant speech related to the whole book

The Novelle Katz und Maus has been published in 1961 by the Nobel Prize winner author Gnter Grass, as the second part of the Danzig Trilogy. The novella is set during the Second World War, in Danzig (Gda sk) and it centers on a child Joachim Mahlke, his adventures and his group of fr iends. The entire story is narrated by Mahlkes friend Pilenz, who seems to hide a feeling of guilt throughout the passages. Per the title and in the entire book, Katz and Maus appear as constant symbols, the first suggesting the persecutor, the hunte r, respectively the victim, the prey. The symbols could also be attributed to the two main characters, Pilenz (the cat), Mahlke (the mouse). : Die Katze bte. Mahlke schlief oder sah so aus.(...) Die Katze kam bend nher. Mahlkes Adamsapfel fiel weil er gro war, immer in Bewegung und einen Schatten warf. (pag. 5) These two phrases from the beginning of the book introduce the reader in a world based on a race , or more likely a chase between the cat and the mouse, Mahlke und Pilenz, exchanging roles, as t he story moves on, but can also symbolize the image of the persecutor, the Nazis, humiliating the occupied Poland. Mahlke is the mouse in the eyes of the society , when related to the Nazi regime, as he wants to integrate himself in it trying to gain everybodys attention. He is also the cat in comparison with Pilenz, for whom Mahlke is the idol : die groe Mahlke. The novel is divided into twelve chapters in which the narrator, Pilenz, seems to hide relevant aspects, deliberately, by making confusions when telling the story : ...und einmal (p.15). His way of narrating betrays his lack of confidence as a objective narrator, leaving a lot of space for uncertinty in the telling of the events : ...und einmal ich wei nicht mehr, in welchem Sommer war es whrend der ersten groen Ferien auf dem Kahn, kurz nach dem Rummel in Frankreich, war es im Sommer danach ? (pag. 19-20) Novel one comes across Pilenzs uncertainty about the events that have taken place, as he cannot remember well what happened or maybe he is reluctant to admit that he may be responsible to what happened to Mahlke at the end. A quite questionable moment is when Pilenz seems not to remember where was his friend living : Euer Haus stand in ther Westerzeile.(...) Nein, Euer Haus stand

in der Osterzeile. This particular moment of narration proves the existence of memory gaps in Pilenzs story, even if he tries to hide this by suggesting its insignificance : Sahen ja alle gleich aus, die St raen der Siedlung. The relationship between Pilenz and Joakim Mahlke appears to be a close one , Pilenz being dependent on him, while worshiping Mahlke or while laughing at him : Wir lachten, al ser bibbernd und blulich mit ausgelaugten Fingerspitzen das Kreuz schlug, die fliegenden Lippen einem Gebet gem zu bewegen versuchte und etwas Latein hinterm Kompahuschen hervorklapperte. Pilenz joins their friends choruss laughter at Mahlke as the narator easily changes his behaviour from respecting and worshiping the hero to laughing at him : Ich wohnte nicht weit weg, in der Westerzeile; doch soll nicht von mir die Rede sein, sondern von Mahlke oder von Mahlke und mir, aber im Hin blick auf Mahlke. As it can be infered Pilenz stays most of the time in the shade behind Mahlke, that appears not to be important, at least in the first half of the novel : Und htte Mahlke nach der Rede des U-boot-Kommandanten zu mir gesagt :>>Pilenz, klau ihm das Ding mit dem Drussel !<<, ich htte das Ding mit dem schwarzweiroten Band vom Haken gelangt und fr Dich aufgehoben. The curious fact about the novel is that Pilenz is continuously speaking about Mahlke : Nur Schilling, nein, ich fhrte ein en neuen Begriff ein, sagte in die Lcke zwischen Hotten Sonntags Kopf und Tullas Kleinkopf : >>Der Groe Mahlke. Das hat, das kann nur, das tat der Groe Mahlke.<< This reference to Mahlke as der Groe Mahlke is a proper answer to his Ritterkreuz theft , as he has somehow becomes the novels leit -motiv, but also the tension that is rising with every single moment that passes after, this important object being the reason for his given nickname. The most important event in the book takes place in the 7th chapter, when the Kapitnleutnant is invited to host a speech in front of the school at whic h Mahlke and his friend Pilenz are attending. This is also when an important moment takes place, that determines the course of the story until its end - the stolen iron cross - the plot of the novella : Das Auftreten des Kpitanleutnent zur See und hochdekorierten U-Boot-Kommandanten in der Aula unseres Real Gzmnasiums beendete die Konzerte im Inneren des ehemaligen polnischen Minensuchbootes >>Rybitwa<<. Yet, from the very first line of the chapter die Kpitanleutnent, the story does not center anymore on Mahlke, which is temporarily replaced by the figure of the lieutenant -captain. Thus, it is expected that his speech would bring more relevance in an educational way, and not words without deep meaning: Der Sprechmund hatte getuscht. Recht farblos gab der Kapitnleutnent zuerst eine bersicht, wie sie jeder Flottenkalender bot. It becomes dissapointing to the students, as they are all expecting a war

report rather then a pointless poetical description such as :...blendend wei schumt auf die Hecksee, folgt, eine kostbar wallende Spitzenschleppe, dem Boot, das gleich einer festlich geschmckten Braut ... . Every word that he addressed in front of the audience appears fake, filled with grand, fairy-tale like images. Kapitnleutnant speech was supposed to create a clear view of his military experience, to be able to present it exactly as it happened and nothing more to it. He lost himself into heavy inappropriate phrases proving that these students could not find a grown up world to aspire, but a childish approach of a potential well-thoughtful speech. This is also the reason why students behaved rude by sending messages throughout his speech : Es gab nicht nur bei den Mdchen mit Zpfen Gekicher. It is proven throughout this chapter, that the intention of the captain, was not to offer the class additional knowledge, but to impress his ex-teachers, especially his latin and German professors, Doktor Stachnitz and Papa Brunies. The captain has obviously quote with this intention few Latin words: qui quae quod, cuicus cuicus shouted into the ship speakers, made the chef engineer to ironically greet him : Sehr gut, Herr Kaleu, Sie haben schul frei heute!. His behaviour as an orator is quite bizarre, showing him as an officer who is seeking appreciation of his high-school teachers, instead of raising as an example in front of the class: Wahrscheinlich hielt er den Vortrag mehr ins Ohr seines ehemaligen Deutschlehrers Papa Brunies, der als Eichendorffschwrmer galt, den in unsere Richtung. Of course his arrogance was not to be forgotten, because Mahlke succeeds in stealing his Ritter Kreuz after he demonstrates his gymnastic and basketball skills in the gym surrounded by children and by his former sports teacher Mallenbrandt. The chaos breaks out when he finds himself without his indispensable Ritter Kreuz and rapidly finds someone to put the blame on : Als Mallenbrandt in flauschigem Bademantel mit dem halbangezogenen Kapitnleutnant zwischen uns stand und sein >>Werwardas ? Sollsichmelden!. The silent theft of the Ritter Kreuz done by Mahlke insists on his wish to have achieve his goal that he long hoped for. The school should play an important role among students and to form them in some way, but this cannot be achieved due to the lack of maturity among teachers. To conclude, the book approaches more, in a realistic way, the personal ups and downs of the two teenagers, full of characte r insight, even if their lives have intersected with major history moments. Bibliography : Gnter Grass Katz und Maus

Dragos Ionel

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