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Boll’s Use of Characters Character construction in The Lost Honour of Katherina Blum Compiled & Created by Mrs. J. Highland.

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Presentation on theme: "Boll’s Use of Characters Character construction in The Lost Honour of Katherina Blum Compiled & Created by Mrs. J. Highland."— Presentation transcript:

1 Boll’s Use of Characters Character construction in The Lost Honour of Katherina Blum Compiled & Created by Mrs. J. Highland

2 Function of Characterisation Characterisation is not random – clearly enunciates/articulates specific beliefs values and attitudes of particular contexts to either challenge or reinforce dominant cultural norms.

3 Boll’s use of characters Boll uses characters to portray problems of the time – eg corruption of institutions, abuse of power, culpability of social institutions in the destruction of the individual, the salacious power of the tabloid press, empowerment of patriarchal system Another social problem – ever increasing gulf between the small wealthy and powerful elites and the institutions that collude with them – and the attendant social alienation of a particular group-especially the working class Straubleder/Hach/Biezemenne Moral and spiritual vacuum in West German social values – deterioration of institutions like family, work place, neighbourhoods under onslaught of individualism and materialism and power The hollow promise of the Reconstruction

4 Boll’s characters serve as a barometer of the social values of German society Uses characters to represent the values and attitudes of the time – eg Katherina – values of independence and upward social mobility, Ludwig Gotten – criminal underclass. Working class as victims of rich – Katherina – victims of Straubleder’s impulses,

5 Gendered beliefs – Dominant & disempowered masculinities Uses Characters to interrogate traditional notions of patriarchy and gender empowerment/disempowerment – Males are empowered by social values. Hold all positions of authority –Biezermenne, Hach & Moeding – Police Commissioner, Public Prosecutor and for the Justice Department, Blorna is an independently wealthy solicitor. Straubleder is a wealthy businessman, a millionaire – active in the world of business and finance and Totges is an influential journalist capable of manipulating public opinion through the News

6 Male empowerment Make all decisions outside the domestic sphere and even within the home Regarding interrogation, arrest, conduct of trial eg incident with the dessert Travel freely in the community Straubleder conducts business affairs, attends conferences. Pursues even reluctant women. While Katherina has to go on long lonely drives in the rain to escape unwanted male advances Control all financial resources Buy silence and compliance,

7 Marginalised men Represented as victims - Gotten Little power over their lives Duped and exploited by powerful men Ineffectual in dealings with other men Command little respect Low social status

8 Marginalised Females – Females restrained by social values – expectations and assumptions about their roles and sphere of influence. Concerning place – authority in the home is idealized by patriarchy but little or no authority outside the home – even over decisions about marriage, relationships with males. Eg. Katherina challenges patriarchy with her independence

9 Females are Restrained by social expectations concerning roles – eg Katherina’s divorce and subsequent financial solvency challenges male power Concerning sex – females represented as passive, idealized essentially useless ornaments or as predatory harpies unable to change the realities of their lives unless they are attached to dominant males. Eg Katherina’s divorce leaves her open to innuendo regarding moral values and conduct – the gentlemen callers

10 Female disempowerment Locked out of major decisions – Trude Blorna is not privileged in Straubleder’s confidences Given no chance to safeguard financial autonomy Katherina’s independence is systematically dismantled by lies and innuendo which results in the loss of her apartment Constructed by male gaze – judged on beauty and sex appeal to males. Katherina is pursued by the tabloid press, photographed and castigated in the News for her divorce, her ‘gentlemen callers’ and her honour destroyed

11 Boll uses characters to challenge reader expectation Uses characters in opposition to direct reader response – eg Katherina is not judged by her frugality, her strong work ethic, her honesty and her independence but as a victim of the wealthy and the powerful like Straubleder. Biezemenne and Totges who destroy her credibility and her reputation, causing her deterioration into criminal action

12 Links characters to social hierarchies Characters uphold existing power structures and and social hierarchy Straubleder and Luding – empowered by wealth and privilege Katherina– aspirational – works to get into this world Gotthem – underclass – criminal Blorna and Hach – solid middle class, empowered by education and position in the justice department Characters serve as a potent force capable of challenging and transforming social attitudes and values. Use of intrusive narrator – elicits sympathy for Jatherina’s plight Biezemenne and police department condemned as corrupt even though they hold positions of power– undermines New German class structure

13 Some empowered by wealth Characters present insights into notions of class, social institutions and power relations operating American society – empowered by criminal connections – draws Gatsby into the underworld The narrator, Trude Blorna and Else Woltershiem – observers of exercise and abuse of power Totges and – empowered by mass media and the Characters represent different classes of people Give examples

14 Shows working class as victims of wealthy groups Representation of the working class Obsequious – attempt to placate wealthy – police authorities Internalise the values of the dominant class - Biezemenne Aspire to wealth and status

15 Characters challenge the power relations of the text Serve as triggers in the central activity of deconstructing a text so that the underlying logic of power relations is revealed Katherina’s act of shooting Totges Totges reports of the Blorna’s and Trude’s character Narrator calls on readers to challenge oppressive beliefs and values which are promoted. Eg class stratification which breeds inequities, exercise of patriarchal power

16 Characters connected to symbols Links characters to symbols and symbols to characters – eg Setting – The puddle – shows the convolutions of truth, the distortion of facts and the cover ups that result in injustice and victimisation Katherina– associated with nun symbolism The ring The key

17 Psychological grounding of characters Characters can be used by readers to explore psychological states - eg Katherina’s growth and development into an independent woman, throwing off the shackles of her past, affirmation of women, Strubleder’s obsession with Katherina, Biezemenne and Totges’ sordid discourse

18 Ideological use of characters Links characters to state of society – eg prevailing ideologies of the time – The New Germany, capitalism & materialism, restless pursuit of power and domination, corruption of institutions of family, church, justice – sub title -

19 Themes and issues Uses characters to present themes and issues – the value of individual vs social responsibility. Other themes?

20 Conclusion Therefore: Characterisation is not random – serves specific purpose in the context of texts – examining existing power and social structures and often foregrounding the author’s own beliefs, values and attitudes to his society.

21 That’s all folks!


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