Mother Courage: The Hole In The Cheese Essay

This essay has a total of 697 words and 3 pages.

Mother Courage: The Hole In The Cheese

Mother Courage contains a quote that pulls the entire play together so innocuously; it's
hard to believe that Brecht originally intended it to be so symbolic. Yet, there it is, in
scene six, the chaplain rhetorically asks, "What happens to the hole when the cheese is
gone?" This line operates on the three essential layers of the play: the level of the
character, of the playwright (plot), and of the audience. On "face" value, this line is
said about peace. The chaplain believes that the image of peace as the norm and war as an
abnormal event is backward. He sees war as the standard occurrence (the cheese) and peace
as merely an interim incidence (the holes in the cheese). Thus peace is nothing without a
backdrop of war upon it; a hole is only a hole - it contains nothing. The substance of
life is war.But the chaplain's line wouldn't be as significant if it didn't have a more
global meaning. In the light of the plot, "What happens to the hole when the cheese is
gone?" is a question that Mother Courage should ask and apply to herself. Clearly the
cheese is Swiss Cheese specifically, and more generally all of her children. Mother
Courage only thinks about a certain part of her children - their use to her in her
business. She has an odd sort of motherly care for her children; abstractly, she has
affection for them, but it's only abstract. The only concrete feelings she expresses
toward her children is that they should listen and depend on her; as long as they stay and
work with her, she will keep them safe. But she can't understand that their identities are
so crucially different than the tiny roles she has given them in her life. She only sees
the hole, but her children are real people with real ambitions. Swiss Cheese has such a
desire to be honest and useful, but she only sees a simpleton. Kattrin can't voice her
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