Bagley (1993) - Somebody's Daughter - The Portrayal of Daughter-Parent Relationships by Contemporary Women Writers From German-Speaking Countries | Feminism | Ethnicity, Race & Gender
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SOMEBODY'S DAUGHTER:
THE PORTRAYAL OF DAUGHTER-PARENT RELATIONSHIPS
BY CONTEMPORARY WOMEN )WRITERS
FROM GERMAN-SPEAKING COUNTRIES

By
PetraM. Bagley,B.A., M. A.

OPI
tP
0-4
6-4

Thesis submitted to the University of Stirling


for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

September,1993

1ci4

o
-,

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PAGE
i

ABSTRACT

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

DEDICATION

INTRODUCTION

'Frauenliteratur' and autobiography

1-47

CHAPTER ONE

Death of a father: start of a story

48-132

CHAPTER TWO

My mother lives on in me

133-208

CHAPTER THREE

Twice born: the adopteddaughter

209-283

CHAPTER FOUR

Death of a daughter: end of a story

284-338

CHAPTER FIVE

Narrative strategies

339-372

CONCLUSION

Nobody's daughter?

373-390

BIBLIOGRAPHY

391-419

i
ABSTRACT

The purposeof this thesisis to examinethe complexitiesof daughterhood


as portrayedby

Wohmann,
(Gabriele
Germany
former
from
West
womenwriters:
nine contemporary
ElisabethPlessen),from former East Germany(HeddaZinner, Helga M. Novak), from
Switzerland(Margrit Schriber) and from Austria (Brigitte Schwaiger,JuttaSchutting,
WaltraudAnnaMitgutsch,ChristineHaidegger).Ten prose-workswhich spana periodof
approximatelyten years,from the mid-1970sto the mid-1980s,are analysedaccordingto
themeand character.
In the Introductionwe tracethe historicaldevelopmentof women'swriting in German,
focusingon the most significantfemaleauthorsfrom the Romanticperiod throughto the
rise of the New Women'sMovementin the late sixties. We then considera definition of
Trauenliteratur'andtheextentto whichautobiographyhasbecomea typical featureof such
women9s writing.

In the ensuing four chapters we highlight in psychological and

sociologicaltermsthe mourningprocessa daughterundergoesafter her father'sdeath;the


identification process between daughter and mother; the daughter's reaction to being

adopted;and the daughter'sdecision to commit suicide. We see to what extent the


environmentin which eachof thesedaughtersis brought up as well as past eventsin
Germanhistory shapethe daughter'sattitudetowardsher parents. Sincewe are studying
the way in which theserelationshipsare portrayed,we also needto take into accountthe
narrativestrategiesemployedby thesemodemwomenwriters.
In the light of our analysisof contentand form we are able to examinethe possible
intentionsbehindsuchpersonalportraits: the act of writing asa form of self-discoveryand
self-therapyas well as the sharingof femaleexperience. We concludeby suggestingthe
directionwomen'swriting from German-speaking
countriesmay be taking.

ii
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank a numberof peoplefor their supportand advice, in particular my


for
his
for
his
Murdoch,
Brian
Mike
Mitchell,
and
encouragement;
guidance;
supervisor,
friends and colleagueswho showedan interest in my work and helped me along the way.
Thanks also go to Beverly Tribbick for typing this thesis. Above all, I want to expressmy

daughter
family
in
This
believing
to
could not wish
me.
who neverstopped
gratitude my
for a more loving family.

iii

DEDICATION

To my parentsand sister
With love

INTRODUCTION: 'FRAUENLITERATUR' AND AUTOBIOGRAPHY

The intentionof this introductionis to examinethe term Trauenliteratur' and to pinpoint


the part that autobiographyhas played and continuesto play in prose works written by
from
German-spealdngcountries. In order to be able to recogniseand understand
women

the way in which Trauenliteratur' and autobiographyhavemergedand overlapped,it is


by
in
German
look
briefly
historical
development
to
the
at
of women'swriting
necessary
charting its growth during the past two centuries. We shall then be in a position to consider

theproblemswhich nowadayssurrounda clear-cutdefinitionof eachof theseliterary terms


in
has
been
German
the
to
to
writing
and acknowledge extent which contemporarywomen's
influencedand shapedby the featuresto which theseterms refer. Without doubt it is a
literary
in
German
trends
developments
typifies
which, aswe shallsee,
recent
phenomenon
interest
is,
therefore,
to writers and critics alike.
of
great
and
Womenwho write works of literary rank are not a peculiarityof contemporarylife. If
been
has
liberation
back
history
look
the
at
of womenwriters, a processof gradual
we
In
evident. the nineteenthcentury, for example,the literary careersof two great authors
In
both
Ironically,
hid
identities
by
their
pseudonyms.
male
adopting
women
ran parallel.
England,Mary Ann Evans(1819-1880)becameGeorgeEliot andwrote fiction which dealt
The
didactic.
being
her
her
the
time,
primarily
socialandmoralproblemsof
purpose
with
her
Mill
Silas
Marner
Floss
the
oneof the greatist
made
such
of
works
as
on
and
popularity
literature.
(1804-1876)
In
France,
Dudevant
Baroness
usedthepenname
world
in
novelists
literary
further
Sand
her
France's
became
George
to
successes.
of
career, and so
of
one
It is somewhatsurprisingto note that eventoday,in spiteof the Women'sMovementand

2
feminism, some young writers do contemplate using a male pen name because"writing

'
is
for
still
not
considered
novels
a respectable
pastime women".
Nevertheless,
theintellectual,ratherthanthepolitical or social,emancipation
of women
could alreadybe notedin the Romanticperiod of Germanliterature. The wives of the
Schlegel brothers were artistically inclined: Friedrich Schlegel's wife, Dorothea Veit,
first
her
novel Florentin in 1801. Brentano's sister, Bettina von Arnim, also
published
for
human
during
1840s
the
a
number
of
rights.
works
camPaigner
wrote
and was a radical
Many other women such as Annette von Droste-HOIshoff, Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach,

by making a careerof
Fanny Lewald, Ida Hahn-Hahnwere searchingfor independence
husbands
help
the
their
and making their namesas
publishing
works
without
of
writing,
literature,
rather than writing for and about women. In cultural circles all
exponentsof
thesewomenbeganto havesomeinfluence,but concernfor their socialandpolitical status
did
long
Only
towards
the
the
a new phase
way off.
nineteenthcentury
was still a
end of
in the history of women writers indicate a more radical women's literature, when the
in
German
became
Naturalist
the
theme
movement
a central
of
emancipationof women
literature. The pioneersof women'sliteratureassociatedwith this movementwere prose
in
lay
literary
Clara
(1860-1952),
Viebig
success
whose
writers and socialcritics suchas
her realistic presentationof everydayworkers and their poverty; and GabrieleReuter
(1859-1941),who belongedto the proletarianWomen'sMovement. In 1905an Austrian
Nobel
Bertha
Suttner
first
(1843-1914),
the
to
woman receive
von
womanwriter,
was the
PeacePrize for her novel Die Waffennieder! (1889),in which sheportrayedthe fate of
lived
throughthe Prussianwars of 1864-1871.
a womanwho
LaskerElse
For thelastcenturyor soGerman-speaking
others
womenwriters, amongst
Scholer,RicardaHuch, Gertrudvon Le Fort, Isolde Kurz, haveplayedtheir roles in the

3
literary
trends and schoolsof thought, but the significanceand relevanceof women's
many

during
literaturehasonly cometo light with the socialandpolitical emancipation
of women
thelast few decades.This is hardlysurprisingwhenwe considerthatGermanwomenwere
first permittedto studyat universitylevel at the turn of the century: 1901in Baden,1903
in Bavaria, 1908in Prussia. Equality in education,especiallyhigher education, only began

to developin the 1920s,after the women'sright to vote was introducedin Germanyin


1918.
With the onset of National Socialism in the 1930sall efforts aimed at obtaining equality

betweenthe sexescameto an abruptbut only temporaryend, whenwomen'sassociations,


from
belonging
banned
Socialists,
National
those
to
the
and women were once
were
apart

disruption
This
dutiful
daughters,
to the
to
the
mothers.
roles
of
confined
wives
and
more
in
force
long
Women's
had
Movement
the
as
as
only
and
progress
madewas shortlived,
the National Socialistswere in power, so that after the SecondWorld War equalitywas
in
bone
been
1949
had
By
the
resolved
on
paper
partly
of contention.
matter
onceagaina
the form of the Basic Law with the statementthat "MAnner und Frauen sind
in
(Art.
3,
3
Abs.
GG).
A
gleichberechtigt"
notable change attitude towards women's
literature was also taking place at the sametime, as womenrealisedthat the country's
industrialand socialrestorationcould not, andwould not, succeedwithout their aid. This
independence
important
increasing
formed
in
field
the
part of the
an
of economics
aspectof
processof women'semancipation.
into
had
including
During theThird Reichmanyestablished
exile.
gone
women,
writers,
Onesuchwomanwriter, who wasJewishandbelongedto the CommunistParty, wasAnna
Seghers(1900-1983).After beingarrestedandquestioned,sheemigratedto Francein 1933
andto Mexico in 1941, whereshecompletedoneof her mostwell-knownnovelsDas slebte

4
Kreuz (1942), in which she not only presentedfascismrealistically, in the shapeof a
concentrationcamp,but was also highly critical of it. In 1947shereturnedto Germany
and settledin East Berlin, where she continuedto write about life as an exile and the
uncertainty of one's identity. Her writing servedas active opposition to National Socialism.
Luise Rinser (born 1911) was similarly bannedfrom writing during the period of Nazi

in
but
into
join
her
NSDAP
Instead,
to
to
the
she
chose
not
rule
go
resulted
exile.
refusal
her imprisonment in 1944. During her captivity she kept a diary, Gefangnistagebuch,
which was published in 1946.

This was Rinser's first attempt at writing an

autobiographicaltext which revealedlife in a women's prison. In her later work during the

1960sand 1970sshehasshowna preferencefor the diary-form,which culminatedwith the


from
her
development
in
1981.
This
Den
Wolf
of
autobiography,
publication
umarmen,
diary to autobiographical
works
of autobiographical
novelalreadyanticipatedtheemergence
in the 1970sand 1980sandbringsus closerto thecomplexrelationshipof women'swriting
to autobiography,which will be examinedshortly.
If we returnbriefly to our historicaloverviewof Trauenliteratur', we seethatwomen's
literary outputemergedvery graduallyduring the twenty yearsafter the endof the Second
World War. Two women writers who were able to achievecritical acclaim were Ilse
Aichinger (born.1921)andIngeborgBachmann(1926-1973),whoseliterary careersbegan
to flourish with the establishmentof the 'Gruppe47'. This was not an organisationas
such, but a seriesof annualmeetingsat which authorsread from their new works. The
invited
those
to read were male writers, hencethe fact that Aichinger and
of
majority
Bachmannboth receivedthe 'Gruppe 47' prize in 1952 and 1953 respectively,was an
being
indicationof their determinationto succeed,as well as much-needed
of
recognition
on an equal footing with their male colleagues. In fact, at one such meetingin 1967a

senseof threat was evident in Gnter Grass' comment: "Diese Frauen fangen an, uns an
3

die Wandzu schreiben". The womento whomhe wasreferringwereBarbaraFrischmuth,


Helga M. Novak andRenateRasp. All threehad read from their works andwere on the
brink of makingtheir mark on the literary scene. In the sameyear, 1967,the 'Gruppe47'
disbanded.

A year later the studentmovementadvocatedin specifictermsreform of the university


system and in general terms equality and fairer opportunities for all. Within the German
SocialistStudentOrganisation(SDS) female studentsbeganto create'women's committees',

in which they addressed


women'sissues,in particularthe discrepancybetweenthe public,
in
behaviour
their
their
personal
rhetoric
of
emancipatory
malecolleaguesand
chauvinistic
relationshipswith women. At the sametime women'svoiceswere not being heardat the
studentrallies anddemonstrations,
andwheneverthey did manageto expresstheir opinions
publicly, they were not taken seriously. On the public platform thesefemale students
be
looked
SDS
to
the
upon
only
continued
girlfriends or wives of
membersand were not
as independentthinkersor activists.
In the wake of suchblatentdiscriminationsevenwomenactivistsof the SDS founded
the 'Aktionsratzur Befreiungder Frau' in January1968in WestBerlin, in order to expose
the disparitybetweenthe anti-authoritarian,Marxist rhetoric of their male colleaguesand
their authoritarianbehaviourtowardswomenon a personallevel. At the secondconference
of the SDSin Hanoverthe 'Aktionsrat' demanded:

The abolitionof thebourgeoisseparationof privateandsocial


life: the task is to understandthe oppressionin the private
sphere not as anything private but as politically and

6
economicallydetermined. The task is to effect a qualitative
changein the private sphereandto understandthis changeas
is
This
act of cultural revolution part of the
political practice.
"
class struggle.

By the time of the third conferencein Frankfurt in September1968 the continuing


hypocrisy of the male delegates of the SDS resulted in the representative of the
'Aktionsrat', Helke Sander, first accusing them of being authoritarian and patriarchal and
secondpelting the male dignitaries with tomatoes. Sander's action marked the onset of a

feminism
birth
in
heralded
Women's
Movement
the
the
amongstthe
of
and
new era
left.
German
post-war
Initially, however, there were divisions in this New Women's Movement. Some
from
League,
the
Women's
West
Berlin
Socialist
the
arose
which
groups,
such
as
women9s

'Aktionsrat', continuedto basetheir convictionson the texts of Marx and Engels. Other
Juliet
Kate
Millett
feminists
American
turned
to
and
andwriters, suchas
women9sgroups
de
fact
Simone
Noteworthy
that
the
Mitchell, and formed 'self-experience
is also
groups'.
Beauvoir's7he SecondSex(1949)appearedfor the first time in paperbackin Germanin
1968. The 'AktionskreisFrau' in Nurembergandthe 'Aktion Emanzipatione.V. ' in Ulm
in
themselves
the workplace: their membershipconsistednot of
equality
with
concerned
had
Law
but
decades
Two
Basic
the
promisedequality,
after
students of working women.
discriminationwas still rife.
The origins of the New Women's Movementcan, thus, be traced back to the 1968
began
Movement
Women's
studentmovementout of whosepolitical contextan autonomous
to stir in German-speaking
countries. In contrastto the Women'sMovementat the turn of

7
the century,which could be dividedinto the demandsof womenfrom the bourgeoisieand
the proletariat,this new movementbecamewithin threeyearsa coherentpolitical entity,
218
(in
Austria
law
it
Paragraph
to
the
campaigned
reform
on
abortion
and
remove
when
Paragraph144). All the women's groups mergedto form 'Aktion 218, after the publication
in Stem, Nr. 24,1971 of Alice Schwarzer's article 'Ich habe abgetrieben', in which 375

had
having
to
them
an
well-known and prominent,admitted publicly
women, someof
issue
factor
for
disparate
be
The
the
the
to
the
strands
of
proved
abortion.
unifying
Women's Movement. Furthermore, these women had in common the desire for selffrom
free
for
identity
the constraints
the
the
to
oneself
search
wish
one's
and
realisation,

in
for,
1977,
Gerhardt
Marlis
patriarchy
out
as
pointed
of patriarchy,

bedeutet ja

nicht einfach Mnnerherrschaft, sondern

Herrschaftder Vter, die Ordnungund Gesetzsymbolisch


ihre
Kindern
reprsentieren
und weiblichenund mnnlichen
spteregesellschaftlicheRolle entwederals 'Erbe' oder als
'Tauschobjekt' und 'Gebrerin' zuweisen.5

The propagandisticnature of documentaryliterature and reportage, which became


during
late
in
the
German
the
of
as
a
result
writings
sixties
andearly seventies
predominant
in
bourgeois
literature,
to
renounce
was reflected the titles given to works
writer's wish
writtenby women,who wereawareof theanti-authoritarianmovement'sconceptof cultural
den
(1969);
Frauen
Erika
Runge's
Frauen.
Versuche
Emanzipation
gegen
revolution:
zur
218.18 Protokolle,aufgezeichnet
Texte
Kollegin.
1);
Liebe
(197
Schwarzer
Alice
zur
von
Emanzipationder Frau in der Bundesrepublik(1973); Alice Schwarzer'sDer kleine

8
Unterschiedund seinegroenFolgen.Frauenaber sich. Beginneiner Befreiung(1975).
Suchwas the predominanceof reportage,protocol literatureand proclamationsaboutthe
deathof literaturefrom the studentmovementthat in its review of the FrankfurtBook Fair
in 1971Die Welt posedthe ominous question: "Droht das Ende der Literatur?"I This state
of affairs was even referred to as a literary-theoretical "Nullpunkt". 7 However, just three

later
the Book Fair was celebratingthe so-called"Herbst des autobiographischen
years
Romans".'
According to Sigrid Weigel, 1975 was the "Nullpunkt" for women's literature.' This

is
based
conclusion
on her charting of documentaryliterature by women up to the
followed
by a chronologicaldevelopmentof women's cultural sphereafter
mid-1970s,
1975,in particularthe foundingof women'spublishingcompaniesandfeministmagazines.
Certainly, it cannotbe deniedthat women'sliteraturedid begin to flourish in the second
half of the 1970s,yet to say that 1975was a "Nullpunkt" for women's literature seems
dubious.Weigel herselfgoeson to illustratethe movefrom politics to literature,from the
public to the personal,via Karin Struck's Klassenfiebe,publishedin 1973. Admittedly,
1975, which also happenedto be 'InternationalWomen's Year, did see a surgein the
productionof women'sliteratureas well as an increaseddesireon the part of the female
public to read women's works. Verena Stefan'sHautungenwas a bestseller;Elfriede
Jelinek'sDie Liebhabetinnenmet with criticism on accountof its satirical tone; Margot
Schr6der'sbook Ich stehemeineFrau was alteredduring its conceptionin order to meet
the demandsof her feminist publishers."' Thus, initially, successfor women writers
dependedon depictingfeministissueswhich corresponded
to women'sexperiences.
The term 'Frauenliteratur'could, therefore,be looked upon as havingacquireda new
impetuswith the founding of the New Women's Movement. Indeed, its impact on the

9
literary scenehasonly cometo the fore during the last two decades.The reasonsfor this
increasedpopularityare manifoldand needto be examinedin detail. For the moment,it
ignore
to
that
the marketingpotential of such a concept.
say
we
should
suffices
not
Feminist publishers, be they in Britain, for instance 'Virago', or in Germany, publishing
housessuch as 'Frauenoffensive, 'Frauenbuchverlag' or 'Verlag Frauenpolitik', to name

"
fact,
In
but a few, havebeenableto establishthemselves
sellers'
market.
as a result of a
feminism itself has become a marketing tool which has made women's writings
commercially more attractive.

Along with the book publications came the feminist

in
1976.
Courage
Not only
first
Mamas
Pfirsiche,
their
and
malcing
appearances
magazines
have the the new publishing housesbeen able to prosper from this literary trend, but the

have
'Rowohlt'
thrived
startingtheseries
companies
also
established
with publisherssuchas
'die neueFrau' in 1977and'creatingthe generalconceptof 'Frauenbflcher'in 1983. The
'Suhrkamp'
at
recognisedthe value of their many women writers, past and
publishers
der
In
Frau.
in
1980
IM
Jahrhundert
the
publication
of an almanac
entitled
present,with
1991the 'FischerTaschenbuch
Verlag' publishedits new seriesTrauen lesen', consisting
These
from
the
twentieth
women
writers
countries.
numerous
of
various
of
century
because
houses
in
publishing
male-dominated
are continually searchof new womenwriters
Trauenliteratur' hasbecomesuchbig business.
But what do we actually mean when we refer to 'Frauenliteratur'? There is no
hesitationover the translation:'women'sliterature'. Virginia Woolf had no doubtsin her
mind when she wrote about 'Women Novelists' and 'Women and Fiction'. In America
Ellen Moer's study entitled Literary Women(1974) has becomea classic of women's
literary criticism along with Elaine Showalter'sA Literature of their Own (1978) and
PatriciaMeyer Spacks' 7heFemaleImagination(1976). All threebooksfeatureanalyses

10

of worksby English,AmericanandFrenchwomenwritersbut thereareno Germanwomen


writers. Indeed, German equivalentsare nowhere to be found and, what is more
remarkable,is the fact that in Germanliterary circlescritics, andeventhe womenwriters
themselves,haveno clear-cutdefinitionof theterm 'Frauenliteratur'andcontinueto debate
its origin and implications.

It is probablethat someambivalencearisesas a result of a differencein perceptionof


the terms 'women's literature' and Trauenliteratur'.

Generally, both terms refer to

literature by women and in recent years have becomepredominant in the literary market

on accountof their associationwith feminist culture. In Germany,however, the term


Trauenliteratur'

has been tarnished with a somewhat negative aspect, namely

'Trivialliteratur', since the majority of women's novels which appearedin the late
nineteenthcenturywereoften serialisedandsoldcheaply. The reasonsfor their popularity
werethusquestionable,and, moreover,suchliteraturehasneverbeenregardedas meriting
literary
status:
significant

Im deutschenSprachraumhat der TerminusTrauenliteratur'


Bedeutungseinschrnkung
mit einer umgangssprachlichen
zu
kmpfen - man-versteht hier unter Frauenliteraturhufig
Unterhaltungsliteraturfr
epigonale, systemstablisierende
Frauen;unterdiesem Gesichtspunkt
findet sie sich schonseit
lngeremals ein Gebietder Trivialliteraturforschung. Diese
Art von Literatur spielt im deutschenSprachraumseit der
Jahrhundertwende
(StichwortCourths-Mahler)eine wichtige
Rolle, in der Gegenwartfindet man dieseArt von Literatur

11

primr auf demGebietdesIllustrierten-und desHeftromans,


aber auch bei den programmierten Bestsellem (Danella,

Parretti).11

From the outset contemporary German women writers have had to battle against this

inheritednegativeconcept,not to mentionthe fact that

especially in women's media, a critique of women's literature


is largely tabu. Women's fear of criticizing one another

ultimately allows them to leavecriticism to the men, where


it is not uncommonfor 'Literaturlcritik' to degenerateinto a
"
festival of slaughter.

It is no wonder,therefore,that whenfacedwith sucha vulnerablepositionthe German


is
forced
today
to defendher work, even to the extentof denyingany
of
writer
woman
links, howevertenuous,with Trauenliteratur'. Somewriters, namelyWest Germany's
Gabriele Wohmann and Austria's Jutta Schutting, would prefer to dismiss the term
for
Trauenliteratur' completely,ratherthanhavetheir works associated
term
which
with a
them conjures up feminism and all its socio-political trappings. Austria's Brigitte
Schwaiger,too, points out that at the time of writing her first novel Wie kommtdas Sak
ins Meer (1977) she was unawareof the term 'Frauenliteratur'and the New Women's
Movement. Moreover, she did not want anythingto do with words ending in '-ist'. "
Other writers, suchas the Swisswriter Gertrud Leutenegger,are quick to point out the
non-existenceof

'Mdnnerliteratur'. And this is the starting-pointfor the complexity

12
surrounding'Frauenliteratur'becausereferenceis never made to men writers or men
novelists. For this reasonit is not surprisingto discoverthat Trauenliteratur'canbe easily
dismissedor ridiculed,' evenby the very womenwriters whoseworks are publishedand
sold underthis term:

Intimidated by the ill-repute of women's literature and


dependentupon the feuilleton - but also shakenby the market
successof confessionalliterature and its enthusiasticreception

by many women readers - women authors increasingly


distance themselvesfrom women's literature, instead of
openlycriticizing regressivetendenciesandusingproductive
"
literary strategiesto createresistanceandcounter-offensive.

Furthermore,as Sigrid Weigel suggests,"women authors fear identification with and


"
It
to
the
that
seemsthatwhilst this
social
periphery
status".
comeswith special
relegation
in
is
her
true
this
of somewomenwriters,
part
argumentmay ring
particularcritic playing
it
in
the
than
that
men when comesto
womenare someway weaker
perpetuating myth
in
their
point
of
view
writing. It is quite possiblethat somewomenwriters
expressing
imply
The
did
long
the
this
not
conformity.
exclusivityand attention,as
as
would enjoy
East German author Irmtraud Morgner, for example, regards the parallel expression
'Mdnnerliteratur'as absurd:

Was ich ablehne,das ist lediglich der Ausdruck Trauenliteratur", weil der paralleleAusdruck"Mnnerliteratur"mit

13
Recht als absurd empfundenwird. Es gibt eine Literatur von

Frauengeschrieben
Literatur
Mnnern
und
es
gibt
eine
von
geschrieben. Die von Mnnern geschriebenist ungeheuer
vielfltig, man knntesie auf keinenFall unter irgendeinen
Nenner bringen."

We must recognise, though, that Morgner was brought up in a socialist country where, in
Marxist theory, men and women are equal, so that she cannot even begin to accept the
notion of a Trauenliteratur'.

She avoids, or perhaps even solves, the problem by

advocating a 'Menschenliteratur', which either has the viewpoint of a woman or of a man.


In any event, her explanation highlights that there is a difference between the two.

The suggestionis that women,comparedto men, write aboutdifferent thingsandhave


a languageand style of their own. And yet the following questionscontinueto be posed:

Is there such a thing as a "woman writer"? Is women's


writing qualitativelydifferent from men's? Are the style and
subjectmatterof women'sliteratureradically different from
thoseof malewriters, and can we generalizeaboutwomen's
languageandstyle? Thesearevexedquestions,hotly debated
"
by linguists,psychoanalysts,
themselves.
critics andwriters

Works on 'femaleaesthetics,suchas Silvia Bovenschen'sarticle 'Gibt es eine weibliche


Asthetik?' of 1976,haveemergedto engenderand foster sucha literary trend." Women
critics are able to presenttheir opinionson the basisof a feminist perspective,although

14
there is a tendencyin Germanyfor feminist researchto be content-based,
rather than a
distinct analysisof aesthetictheory, which is indicativeof a weaknesin the development
20
issue
feminism
German
Nevertheless,
the existenceof a women's
the
of
whole
of
.
literature has become a critic's nightmare:

Enthlt der Begriff

Trauenliteratur den Hinweis auf

Autorschaft, Adressatenkreis, Darstellungsgegenstand,oder


geht er darber hinaus und deutet eine spezifischeWeise des

Wahmehmensund der Ausdrucksformenan7 Wenn von


Itschreibenden
Frauen" die Rede ist, steckt darin nicht der
Versuch, den sthetischen Fragestellungen zunchst
`
auszuweichen?

A most basic interpretationof Trauenliteratur', one which is seenas applicableto the


is
by
in
it
is
literature
is
this
that
which
women
study,
a
women9swriting analysed
become
As
imaginations.
lives
to
evident,
and
speaks
will
about
women's
and
explicitly
focuses
female
women's
writing
experience to the extent that
on
contemporary
'Frauenliteratur'evokessolidarityamongsta sisterhoodof writers andreaders.This brings
between
feminist
literature
to
the
writings.
women's
and
relationship
us
The fact that contemporaryGermanwomen'sliteraturecoincidedwith the development
is
but
in
Women's
Movement
1970s
New
the
what
shouldnot comeas a surpise,
of the
is
surprising that the Women's Movementdid not pay any attentionto thesewomen's
literary
be
due
This
fact
to
the
these
that
works were not
may
partly
works.
many of
to
be
to
significance
any
concerned
of
about
politics
sufficiently
and emancipation

15
feminism. It is intersting to note that responseto the publicationin 1971 of Ingeborg
Bachmann'snovel Malina was unremarkable,yet today the samebook has almosta cult
following amongstfeminists." Suchwas and is the dependencyof womenwriters upon
factor
Another
readers.
women
was the poor receptionof the novel by critics at the time,
who failed or did not want to appreciate Bachmann's sensitivity in her portrayal of the

femaleidentity within the literary world, as well as her radical style of writing, the useof
T and total subjectivity. The work itself underlines reasons for the dearth of German
literature
during the early 1970s, in particular the woman writer's unsuccessful
women9s
herself
in
to
articulate
a world of male-dominatedtraditions and culture.
struggle

It is at this stagethat we are confrontedby the dilemmaof distinguishingbetweenthe


literatureof a feministandthat of a femalewriter. Of course,the feministandthe female
is
be
is
however,
It
there
that
the
to
a
one and
although
same.
safe say,
writer could
markeddifferencebetweenthe sociologicalwritings of feministsand the artistic work of
womenwriters, theyare not beyondseparability.The onecanquite easilyrefer to, or even
influence,the other. Rita FelsIdarguesthat thereare notableoverlapsbetweenthe two:

Althoughnot all women-centered


textsare feminist,however,
it is certainly true that most feministliterary texts haveuntil
been
now
centered around a female protagonist, a
consequence
of the key statusof subjectivityto second-wave
feminism,in which thenotionof femaleexperience,whatever
its theoreticallimitations, has been a guiding one. It is
those
preciselybecausepresent-dayfeminismhasemphasized
realmsof experiencewhich are traditionallyconsideredto lie

16
outsidethe "political" (thatis, public) domain,that the novel,
as a mediumhistoricallysuitedto exploringthe complexities
of personal relations, has been so prominent in the
developmentof feminist culture.23

According to Manfred Jurgensen,we are able to differentiatebetweenfeminist literature


is
influenced
literature
by feminist ideas:
which
and

Eine Frau, die bewutals Frau ber sich "selbst" schreibt


(womit sie zugleich, geschlechtsbezogen,
ein geteiltes
Schicksalzeichnet),schafftFrauenliteratur. Eine Frau, die
hat,
sichalsErgebniseinesBewutseinsprozesses
entschieden
kmpferischfr die Sacheder Frau zu wirken, leistet beim
SchreibeneinenBeitragzur feministischenLiteratur. Es gibt,
berschneidungen:
jedoch
das
bleibt
wie gesagt,
grundlegend
agitatorisch ausgerichtete Anliegen aller feministischen

Literatur.24

Moreover, women writers are not automaticallyfeministwriters of literary rank." There


are thosefemalewriters who consciouslywrite as feministsandwish to be thusunderstood
(VerenaStefan,for example)."

On the other hand, thereare thosewomenwriters who,

We
have
disassociate
feminist
from
themselves
'Frauenliteratur'
said,
aswe
aesthetics.
and
into
be
however,
into
a
misled,
the
not
thinking
must
that we can categorise one group
in
describe
it
modemphenomenonand
as politically-orientated;andplace the othergroup

17
" Whilst
a higher literary realm and suggestthat it has no social or political message.
feminismin WestGermanybecameprominentin the late 1960s,its rootswereto be found
elsewhere,especiallyin AmericaandFrance,in the influential works of GermaineGreer,
29
Alice Schwarzer, Kate Millett, Simone de Beauvoir, Luce Irigaray and H&ne CiXOUS.
There is no doubt that the New Women's Movement in West Germany has over the years
gained strength in social and political areas. Yet the relationship of women writers to
ideologically-orientatedfeminism remainsproblematic. Their interestsmay correspond,but
many women writers are reluctant to commit themselvesto the radical aims of feminist
politics. It is more often the casethat they sharesimilar intentions, but they use a different
approachmodelled on works by writers suchas Virginia Woolf, Anals Nin, Erica Jong and
Doris Lessing.11
Certainly, modem works subsumedunder the term 'Frauenliteratur' would never have

comeaboutif it were not for feminism. Suchterminologyis boundto the socio-political


emancipationof women. A changein the political statusof womenpavedthe way for
literary independence
basedon a new self-appreciation.At the sametime literary criticism
underwentsignificantchanges:

The ways in which we now raise questionsof gender and


sexuality,readingand writing, subjectivityand enunciation,
voice andperformanceare unthinkablewithout the impactof
feminism, even though many of these
activities may take
place on the margin or evenoutsidethe movementproper.30

18
Justas feminismis a modem-dayphenomenon,Trauenliteratur'is a newtrendin German
literature. What is 'new' about it is not the fact that Germanwomen have suddenly,
during the last ten yearsor so, put pen to paperin an artistic form. On the contrary,as
hasbeenshown,womenhavebeenproducingliterary works for at leastthe last 150years.
The innovation of Trauenliteratur' is a direct result of the number of women writers who

havefloodedthe book marketand the numberof womenwriters whoseworks havebeen


'rediscovered'. The fact is that they, more than ever, are representingto a greater extent
literature
in
German. The quality and quantity of their works is such that
contemporary

thesewomenwriters havebecomeworthy of a literary studybasedon their own merits.


It is therethat the 'newness'of Trauenliteratur' lies, for only recentlyhavethe works of
Brigitte
Schwaiger,
BarbaraFrischmuth,andGertrudLeuteneggerachieved
as
such
writers
critical appraisal. A new generationof womenis discoveringthat the massconsumption
liberating
both the womanand the writer, for modemworks of literature
their
is
works
of
haveundoubtedlybecomeconsumergoods. At the sametime we shouldnot underratethe
into
literature
insight
the roles of women
towards
giving clearer
contributionof women's
and menin society.
As the number of literary works by women has rapidly increased,so too have the
themesand stylesof writing. It was alreadynotedwhen we looked at the origins of the
New Women'sMovementandits influenceon women'swriting that the femaleactivistsof
1968were intent upon politicising private matters,in order to remove any discrepancy
in public and their chauvinism
betweenthe anti-authoritarianism
of their male-colleagues
in private 31The self-experience
all
contributed
groups,
newspapers,
women9s
centres
and
.
to women'sefforts to speakaboutand makepublic their individual experiences,and, in so
doing, recognisethe extentto which their personalconcernswere in fact commonto many

19
women. The slogan "das Private ist politisch" becameone of the most fundamental
principles of

modem feminism, whereby the political was no longer restricted to

male-dominated
party politics, governmentand classstruggle. Whateverhappenedin the
domestic spherewas not just a private matter, but a topic for collective discussion.
Similarly, writing about oneself becamea popular mode of publicising what at first
appearedto be personalthoughts,worries, interests,but to which otherwomendid relate.
A turning towards the personal sphere in writing also indicated a reaction against the
documentaryliterature of the early 1970s. Furthermore, writers of both sexesresponded
in a similar way with introverted perspectives. "Das Private ist politisch" could, therefore,

be deemedappropriatefor bridging two literary stylesand at the sametime imbuing the


personalspherewith political relevance:

Indemin demSatz"dasPrivateist politisch" der Familie, der


Erziehung,derLiebeund SexualitteinepolitischeBedeutung
zugewiesenwird, ist damit zugleichauchdie Redeberdiese
Themen aufgewertet?'

An exploration of one's life could not be considereda private matter becauseonce


committedto paperandpublished,it becamepublic property. Moreover,readerswereable
to identify with many of the author's emotionsand turmoils in such a way that what
appearedto be a personal account acquired representativesignificance, hence its
'politicisation'. It wasnot alwaysclear, therefore,whetherthewriter wasintendinghis/her
personallife to pertainto politics in a wider context,or whetherthe processof publication
and the role of the reader'politicised' private issues. Sigrid Weigel suggeststwo further

20
considerations
wheninterpretingthis sloganwith referenceto womenwriters. First, that
it "verbalisesthe refusalof many womento toleratethe existingdivisionsany longer"."
This rings true of women writers, such as Brigitte Schwaiger,whoseautobiographical
in
in
highly
accountsare often
particular
critical of the subservientrole women play,
'
marriage.

If we take this concern a step further, we can see the link with the Women's

Movementand feminist works which depict personalrelationsand sexualpolitics rather


than socio-political questions - the traditional domain of male writers. Second, Weigel
points to the fact that such a slogan is misleading "if it promises a political solution to
"
personal suffering".

The likelihood of a female author writing with this in mind seems

far from crediblefor, as we shall seelater, any attemptto solveproblemsof Personalpain


in
in
lies
its
itself
therapeutic
the
effect
and
andanguish
not the
act of writing
and possible
receptionof the publishedwork. As Weigel herselfcomments:

There can, thank goodness,be no political - that is,


organised,formal - solution to the reallY personal,for that
36
individual
would meanthe suspension
of
self-determination.

The politicisationof thepersonalrealm, althoughprimarily a concernof femalewriters,


could also be related to the German literary trend of the 1970s, namely the phenomenon
of 'Neue SubjektivitAt', whereby male writers, too, were revealing their innermost selves,
overcoming personal conflicts and baring their souls to the reading publiC.37 At the first
meeting of writing women, organisedby the publishing company 'Frauenoffensive' in 1976
in Munich, the participants called for 'radical
subjectivity' in their writing to illustrate the
ways in which the female identity was undergoing
39
This move
a process of change.

21
towardsan expressionof personalexperience,individuality and authenticitygave autobiographya new leaseof life, sinceit appearedto be the predominantchoiceof writers for
makingthe privatepublic. It shouldnot be overlooked,however,that autobiographywas
just one of a numberof selectedforms during this new trend. Lyric poetry as well as
belletristic publications underwenta boom. Whatever the literary form, all had in common:

Spontaneitt,

anti-institutionelle

bzw.

alternative

Lebensformen, Ungezwungenheit, Natrlichkeit, eine neue


Konkretheit von Beobachtungund Ausdruck, die Wendung

zum Phantastischenund Irrationalen, zu Gefhlen und


psychischen Vorgngen -

all

diese Merkmale sind

uerungsformender Neuen Sensibilitt?'

Throughoutthe 1970sthe author'salmostobsessivepreoccupationwith himself/herself


dominatedthe Germanbook market. Amongst others: Peter Handke's Wunschloses
Unglack (1972), Max Frisch's Montauk (1975), Wolfgang Koeppen'sJugend (1976),
(1976)andElias CanettisDie geretteteZunge(1977). For
ChristaWolfs Kindheitsmuster
both men and womenwriters autobiographyprovided the mediumfor discoveringone's
identity, especiallyin terms of psychology,whereby the author attemptedto interpret
himselfas well as thosearoundhim. This wasan apparentshift from the classicalorigins
had
frequently
known
the
the
to
reached
where
autobiography,
author,
public,
of
someone
a stagein his life whenhe felt it was time to capturehis memorieson paperandreflect on
his past.

A general, all-embracing definition of autobiography might, thus, be:

22
"Lebensbeschreibung
eines Menschen durch ihn selbst", which at the same time
knowledge
and/orrecognitionof the identity of the persondepictinghis HWO
presupposes
Any such clear-cut definition causesproblems for an interpretationof the autobiographical writings flooding the Germanbook market during the seventiesbecausefor the
identity
the
of the narrator/protagonist, who usually speaksin the first person,
part
most

in
is
is
According
Philippe
Lejeune,
the
third
there
to
a
person, elusive.
occasionally
distinct, unequivocaldividing-line betweenautobiographyand fiction, which is madeknown
to the reader, either through a title or introduction or through the identity of names."

If

by
if
these
the
there are certain parallels, the
then
criteria
of
are
met
author,
even
none

text, so Lejeunebelieves,cannotbe regardedas an autobiographicalwork. If this were


longer
be
'Neue
Subjektivitdt',
to
the
termedautoprose
writings
of
no
many
applied
would
X-K
biographical. Yet literary critics of this periodconstantlyrefer to the authenticityof these
narratives, which suggeststhat anotheraspecthas to be consideredin defining thesemodem

9autobiographies',
and that is one of reception. Many of thesewriters, in particular the
life,
be
his
identification
her
the
with
or
women,as we shall see,are encouraging reader's
it similar or different, becauseof the subjectiveand revelatory natureof what they are
it
has
For
important
been
that their works are read as
women
writers
also
writing.
in
For
female
identify
that
to
such
a
and
empathise.
way
representative
readersare able
this reasonsomecritics view writings suchas VerenaStefan'sHilutungen(1975)andKann
42This interpretationwill
Struck'sKindheitsEnde(1982)primarily as "actsof confession".
be deemedappropriatefor a number of the works selectedfor analysishere and will,
therefore,be consideredmorefully at a later stage. For now it shouldbe recognisedthat,
in order to maketheir works as representativeand exemplaryas possible,therehasbeen

23
a tendencyon the part of women writers to deliberatelyomit proper names,whilst
remainingtrue to their emotionsas well as to socio-historicalfacts.
In the classicalsenseof autobiographywomenwriters are not reflecting on a long,
public careerof significance.Instead,agedbetweenthirty andforty, theyare writing about
themselvesin order to come to terms with their lives, their lossesand love. The impression

should not be given, however, that all modem German literature by women is
autobiographical.But autobiographydoesoffer thesewriters the possibilityof discovering
their identity and, above all, of communicating with themselves: "It is as if the written

text has acquiredthe function of guaranteeingthe author's identity: 'I write, therefore
I am'. "

Sylvia Schwabstressesthat it is the actual searchfor, or path towards,one's

identity which typifies thesenew autobiographies,the fact that during this processof
discoverythe authordevelopsa new self-awareness:

Der Schriftstellerwird frei, weil er nicht als Objektpsondem


als Subj ekt agiert, weil er Ort, Zeit und Handlungauch in
autobiographischenSchriften selbstndigbestimmt, auswhlt

und reflektiert, stattvon ihnen dirigiert zu werden.44

Whilst we shall see that a number of the women writers, particularly in the works
concernedwith bereavement,do undergoa processof self-discovery,the prospectof
achievingfreedomthroughtheir autobiographical
is
doubtful.
It
writing seems
morelikely
a caseof "Schreibenals Rettungsaktion"45 They may be able to convincethemselvesthat
.
they are fully in control but, moreoften than not, emotionsrun high and family tiesprove
so strongthat one might questionto what extenttheir choiceof materialis influencedby

24
high
is,
honest
However
thinking
the
thinks
and
expectations.
wishful
she yearsof
writer
learningandexperienceare boundto havecolouredher perspectiveon life:

Die behaupteteRealittsnhedes Dargestellten wird damit


jedoch zur Fiktion, denn Ereignisse wie das Scheitern einer

in
Beziehungoder eine ungewollteSchwangerschaft
verliem
der Retrospektive ihre ursprngliche Bedrohlichkeit und
knnendann, durch die Erinnerung neutralisiert, zu wichtigen
Erfahrungen werden, die die eigene Persnlichkeits46

entwicklung geprgt haben.

in addition, the creativeimaginationwill prove difficult to curb, sincethesewriters are,


17

have
to
their works published.
aiming
after all,

Thus, the label of 'autobiography'

less
become
be
less
Furthermore,
to
the
appropriate
can
and
reader
appears
purposeful.
confrontedwith a variety of subtitleswhich suggestthat a work might be autobiographical:
'memoirs', 'autobiographical novel', 9reminiscences','self-portrait', 'journal'. There are

alsomanytimeswhena work of fiction containsparallelsto the writer's life. This is, then,
justified by sayingthat the writer's choiceof materialis basedon his/herown experiences.
GabrieleWohmannexplainsthe merging of reality and imaginationin her works in the
following way:

Allerdings gibt es wohl kaum einen Schriftsteller, der alle


ErfahrungenseinerProtagonistentatschlichselbstgemacht
hat. Auch sitze ich nicht in einem Sozialbround sammle

25
dort meine Erfahrungen. Die Realitt in meinen Bchern
erschaffe ich mit Hilfe meiner Phantasie, durch mein

in die Menschenund meinInteressean


Einfhlungsvermgen
ihnen,durchmeineNeugierauf sieund durchmeinenInstinkt
fr die Kniffligkeiten zwischen den Menschen. Schlielich

kommt noch meineSelbstbeobachtung


dazu. ( ) Alles, was
...
man ber den Menschen zu schreibenvermag, kann man in
48

sich selbstfinden.

WaltraudAnnaMitgutschdoesnot considerher novelDie Zilchtigung,analysedin Chapter


Three, to be autobiographical,sincethis would imply that every detail could be provedas
fact. Nevertheless,sheadmits,like manyauthors,that she'borrows' from her experiences
becausethis makesthe story moreplausible:

Die Mutter beispielsweise


bestehtausFrauenvon denenmir
erzhlt wurde, aus Frauen, die ich selber kenne, aus der
eigenenMutter und aus mir selbst. Daher wrde ich es
da
bezeichnen,
ablehnen,denRomanals autobiographisch
zu
ich Miverstndnisse
habe
verhindernwill. Selbstverstndlich
auch ich als Kind hin und wieder Schlgebekommen,aber
ich kann mich darannicht mehr erinnern. Alle dieseSzenen
habeich erfunden. Es wre aber andererseitsauch falsch,
wenn ich behaupten wrde, der Roman trge keine

ZOge."
autobiographischen

26
A wish to combineboth fact and fiction is evidentin Karin Struck's KindheltsEnde,
Struck's
for
break-up
"Journal
Krise",
documents
the
the
of
einer
which
most
part
subtitled
1977-1981.
during
her
development
the
years
painful
and
of
self-understanding
marriage
The crisis refersto thedangersa womanmayfacein all areasof societyandthe difficulties
incurred by the woman writer who is also a wife and mother. Thus, this work doesachieve

documentary
Struck's
it
is
intensely
though
of
significance,
even
an
personal
representative
integrates
into
her
dreams
The
author
work, which are critical of
many
experiences.
own
illustrate
imagination
in
that
they
the
to
the
of a
artistic
possible extent
which
society

in
be
it
dreams:
find
repressed,
since
can
only
expression
may
woman

Nur in den Trumenprobiere ich Handlungsmglichkeiten.


In den Trumen spiegeln sich meine Fehler. Die Trume

doch
handle
Die
Trume
Handle!,
warnenmich.
schreien:
"
handelst
du?
endlich!, wann

It is noticeablethat dreamsand fantasiesdo feature fairly frequently in contemporary


Die
in
for
in
German,
Frischmuth's
literature
Barbara
novels
example,
women9s
(1978)andKai und
Mystifikationender SophieSilber (1976),Amy oderDie Metamorphose
die Liebe zu den Modellen(1979). The threeworks form a trilogy, in which Frischmuth
become
has
fairy-tale
fairy
to
the
a real person
andreality relate
story of a
who
combines
Kindhelts
Interestingly,
Struck's
the
title
work
mother.
a
of
autobiographical
-a writer and
Ende is taken from the lyrics of a Pink Floyd song which highlights a certain interharsh
fact
fiction:
"childhood's
dependence
fantasies
realities".
and
merging
of
end: your
Throughoutthe book Struckis consciousof the fact that what sheis writing falls between

27
fiktionalisiert sich, so wie
the categoriesof documentaryand fiction: "Dokumentarisches
11
die
dokumentiert".
Fiktion
In her journal she openly commentsupon the writing
sich
between
the
choice
process,
autobiography
andfiction. Sheis preparedto scrutiniseherself
andevenchangeto meettherequirements
of modemautobiography,but an underlyingtone
is
doubt
evident:
of

AutobiographischesSchreiben, sagt man behelfsweise. Sich


selber zum Objekt seiner Kunst machen: sich selbst

bearbeiten,ja verarbeitenzu etwasanderem.


"

Struckis quite definite, however,abouther reluctanceto write fiction only, preferringto


herself
face
to
true
the challengeof discoveringher identity, not wantingto be
and
remain
as objectiveas a malewriter:

Ich denkean das Wort Fiktion und sehesofort eine Milchglasscheibe


vor mir, hinter der ein Kind liegt, dasman nicht
berhren, nicht besuchendarf.

Fiktion ist Entfernung,

Distanz,Abstand."

The associationof the child with the literary productin termsof creationis a familiar one.
Theparallelhere,though,is that the child (thework of fiction) is separated
from its mother
(the author). In other words fiction would not be a true part of the writer, since
imaginationwould haveplayed its role in the creationof the work-. Manfred Jurgensen
similarly commentsaboutStruck:

28
Sie will es nicht erlauben,da sich zwischenihr und ihrem
Werk ein Abstandauftut. Die eigeneSchpfungsoll wie das
Kind Bestandteilihrer Selbst bleiben. Es kann auch bei
Existenznichts Subjektiveresgeben.-4
seinereigenstndigen

Evidently, in herjournal, Struckhasevery intentionof undergoingher own rebirth, hence


the likelihood of an endto her childhoodremainsremote: childhoodis both her pastand

future.
This desire on the part of women writers to expressprivate issues, such as the break-up

is an aspectwhichpermeates
their
of their marriageandtheconsequences,
andcharacterises
writing andis all the moreimportantbecausethey are successfulin doing
autobiographical
this. As previouslymentioned,traditionallya readerof autobiographywould be expecting
a review of the writer's life, usuallybasedon someclaim to notoriety. For theseyoung
d6but
is
their
this
writing
women
works
not the case,as Sigrid Weigel explains:

Wenn Frauen zu schreibenbeginnen,steht ihnen oft kein


anderer Stoff zur Verfgung als der der eigenenLebensSchreibweise
geschichte. Deshalbist die autobiographische
bei Erstffentlichungenbesondershufig. StrkereFiktionalisierung und Literarisierung ist nicht selten an die
"
Professionalittder Verfasseringebunden.

Autobiographyis, thus, chosenby many 'inexperienced',new femalewriters, which does


contradict the traditional autobiographiesby male writers with long-standingliterary

29
Young
women,unknownat the time of writing, write abouttheir everyday
reputations.
lives in anticipationof overcomingsomepersonalconflict or crisis, or comingto termswith
the situationin which they find themselves.The motivationfor writing is alsoto be found
in the desireto searchfor one'sidentityandin the senseof solidarityamongstwomen,who
fears
similar
wishes,
and suffering.
experience

As alreadysuggested,
thereareautobiographical
worksby both menandwomenwriters,
been
have
be
'Neue
SubjektivitAt'.
Men
the
term
categorised
also
under
writers
which can

from
to
of
a subjectiveperspectiveso that occasionallythe subject-matter
attempting write
female
from
do
is
This
the quantity of
writers
coincide.
especially evident
male and

IVAterbficher'written by sons and daughtersin the seventiesand eighties and has,


therefore, warranted a separatechapter to analyse some of these works.

Whilst

approximatelythe samenumberof menandwomenhavechosento write personalaccounts


drawn
between
fathers,
be
the extent
their
their
relationshipswith
about
comparisonscan
to which the writer is subjective;what it is that actually interestshim/her about the
in
is
Generally
the case
the
speaking,
purpose of writing sucha work.
relationship;what
historical
eventsplay an importantpart as well as the acquisitionof as
of men writers,
identity
for
his
facts
be
that,
the
andmay
possible
as
so
although
many
son may searching
be revealinghiddentruths, the writer still includesa certain amountof objectivity in is
if
he
is
emerges
as
aloofness,
as
which
work
uninvolved:

Ich sehe Dein Alter, ich sehe Deine Krankheit, ich sehe
Deine Verzweifelung,und finde dasinteressant.Ich notiere
alles, was Du sagst und tust. und in meiner Erinnerung,
durch Tonbandund
untersttzemein Erinnerungsvermgen

30
Merkbuch. Aber je hnlicherich Dir werde, destobesser
16
ich
Dich
glaube
zu verstehn.

The majority of theseGermanwriters, maleand female,were agedbetweenthirty and


forty when they decided to write about their fathers, in particular the role they played

during the Third Reich. For the sonsthis aspectdoesseemto be of primary importance.
Not only are they learningto cometo termswith the inheritedguilt of the past, but they
fathers'
their
critical
often
of
also
activities or passivity.
are

Characteristic gender roles

do emanatefrom these'Vdterbflcher'. The sonshomein on their fathers'professions,the


daughtersdepictthe fathers'family-roleandconcentrateon the lack of love shownby each
father. Therewill, of course,alwaysbe exceptionsto sucha generalisation,writers who
try to show all sides of their fathers, good and bad, such as Peter Harding in
Liebe (1980)or Heinrich Wiesnerin Der Rieseam 71sch(1979).
Nachgetragene
Serkeobservesa differencein the resulting
In his bookFrauenSchreffien(1982)JOrgen.
effect of thesesubjectivewritings on the maleand femalewriter:

Doch die neueSubjektivitt,die bei den Schriftstellemmit


PeterHandkein die mnnlicheLiteratur eingezogenist, hat
eine andere Qualitt als die der Frauen.

Die Frauen

in
ihr,
in
die
Mnner
gewinnensich
gehenschreibend dieser
SubjektivitAt verloren. 51

On the one hand, Serke'sremark is understandable


in view of the overall successwomen
had
during
have
1970s
the
writers
and 1980swith the emphasison self-expressionand

31
self-awareness.Writing with easeaboutissueswhich concernthem andwith which they
familiar
has
are
given thesewomen writers greater confidence. They have achieved
recognitionindividually andas a group, privately andpublicly. For menwriters this path
to self-discoveryhasbeenneithera comfortableexperiencenor an easychoice. They are
morelikely to strayoff this path andfind their footing in factsrather thanopenlyadmit to
feelings. The applicationof subjectivityhasbeenoneof trial anderror; a new venturefor
the male writer which has not provided the same success,maybe on account of its
innovativestancewhich the readerhas not beenpreparedto acceptfrom an established
writer of fiction.

On the other hand, Serke's remark is questionablewhen we consider

individual writers and individual works. it will becomeevidentduring this analysisof


novelsby womenwriters that only a few womenwill, in fact, succeedin discoveringtheir
true inner selves;the majority will havethe courageto probe, to openup woundsandstart
a painful processof recollection, but the end result will not appear in writing, the
implicationbeing that the processis ongoing. Furthermore,not one of the works of the
women writers selectedfor analysishere endson a positive note. The readeris left to
surmiseaboutthe writer's future progress. For this reasonthe supposedsuccessof each
female writer in coping with her personallife proves difficult to establish,unlessshe
choosesto write sequels(Brigitte SchwaigerandHelga M. Novak, for instance).
Like Serke,RenateM6hrmannhighlightsthedifferentmeaningsmodernautobiographies
havefor menand womenwriters:

Die pltzliche Herauskehrungdes weiblichenIch hat nicht


denselbenStellenwertwie die Ich-Zentriertheitin denWerken
der Mnner, denn niemalsin der Literaturgeschichtewaren

32
weiblichesund mnnlichesIch wertadquat.(... )

Hat man

hinsichtlich der Gestaltungdes mnnlichenIch von einem


Rck-Zuggesprochen,so liee sich bei der Literarisierung
des weiblichen Ich im wortwrtlichen Sinn von einem
Vor-Zug

reden.

Denn hier

ist

keine nostalgische

Reprivatisierungam Werk, sondern- im Gegenteil- ein


ffentlichmachenvonjahrhundertealtenBeschdigungen,eine
Zurcknahmeder zur GewohnheitgewordenenVerstummung.
()

Die Geschichte der neuen Frauenbewegung ist die

Geschichteder weiblichenIch-Findung.I'

It will be shownin the following chaptersthat for manyof thesewomenwriters the act of
function
first
is
form
for
time
the
to
the
of rescuingthe
aldn
a
of
self-therapy
with
writing
helping
daughter,
her
from
as
as
well
passive,subordinaterole, eitheras a wife or
woman
her to deal with emotionalcrises. It could be said, therefore,that the subject-matterof
is determinedby the genderof the writer. Moreover, we
thesemodemautobiographies
haveto take into accountnot only what interestsand concernsthe writer, but also what
intended
fulfil.
to
they
texts
these
serveandwhatexpectations are
autobiographical
purpose
Even within the abundanceof autobiographicalworks by womenit is possibleto identify
include
Examples
themes.
amongstothers:
of childhoodwould
prevalent,representative
AngelikaMechtel'sWir sind arm, wir sind reich (1977),Maria Wimmer'sDie Kindheitauf
dem Lande (1978), Karin Reschke'sMemoireneinesKindes (1980) and Monica Streit's
Joschl.Eine KindheitnachdemKrieg (1984). Womenwriters alsolook at their role within
history and the effect of historical eventsupon generationsof women in their families:

33
IngeborgDrewitz' Gesternwar heute.Hundert Jahre Gegenwart(1978), Marie-Th6rese
Schwestem(1982). Of moreimmediatehistoricalrelevanceare the events
Kerschbaumer's
life
1930s
the
and
underthe Hitler regime: Helga M. Novak's two-partautobiography
of
Die Eisheiligen (1979) and Vogelfederlos (1982), Katja Behrens'Die dreizehnteFee
(1983). Marital relationships, particularly separations,also come to the fore with works
Schwaiger's
Brigitte
Wie kommt das Salz ins Meer (1977), Hannelies Taschau's
as
such
LanjIftiede (1978), Karin Petersen'sDas fette Mr

(1978). The works selected for this

indicative
likewise
are
of themesabout which women, above all, have something to
study

say, namelyrelationshipsbetweenparentsand children.


Up until now we have viewed theserecentpersonalwritings by womenas having a
is,
being
for
in
that
terms
therapeutic
as
message,
representative
and
of reception
positive
the writer herself. We shouldnot overlook the fact, though, that this upsurgein selfhas
by
women
not alwaysbeenseenin a favourablelight. The desire,eventhe
expression
if
for
has
been
to
their
women examine
selveson paper
met with accusations
need,
indulgencein self-pity and self-justification. Thesewritings are supposedlytoo personal
to be regarded as 'literary' and contain too much pathos. The sheer quantity of
'confessional'works by womenduring this periodof developmentin women'sliteraturein
Germandoesencouragethe applicationof negativegeneralisations,
suchas self-indulgence
countries:
andlachrymosity,to all contemporarywomen'sliteraturefrom German-speaking

An der selbsttherapeutischen
Absicht ist meist nicht zu
zweifeln.

Selbstmitleidung, Selbstrechtfertigung, ein

Bedrfnisknnen
narzitisches
und (oder)exhibitionistisches
"
sich in den Schreibproze
mischen.

34
The obsessivenatureof a numberof new womenwriters in Germanto focuson the
60
lives
lead
"charges
to
can,thus,
of narcissisticself-consumption".
negativeaspectsof their
Whilst the act of writing is intendedto providea catharticexperience,the final productthe published work - is a constant reminder of past turmoils. Will this woman writer,
therefore, ever be able to break free from pain and suffering and make a fresh start? The

implicationis that shewill learn and gain insight into her own being as she reflects. In
Kindheits Ende Karin Struck seesthe relevanceof pain as part of the writing processin the

following way:

Du mutleiden, damit du schreibenkannstl Sagtman dem


Schriftsteller, und keine noch so fundierte Kreativittsforschung kann das Vorurteil aufhebenund die Einsicht
allgemeinverbreiten,dader Schriftstellerschreibt,obwohl
er leidet. Manchmalwissendasdie Schriftstellerselbstnicht,
leiden,
da
sie
sie
sie
schreiben,
weil
nicht wissen,
nicht
weil
leiden,
sondern
weil sie schreiben.Dennwasheitschreiben
anderesals: wahrnehmen,beobachten,denken,fhlen, und
dies mit allen Sinnen,und geht das alles, ohne zu leiden,
ohneSchmerzen?Es ist kein DenkenmglichohneSchmerz.
Mit

dem Zusammenhangwill

die Welt sich nicht

11
beschaftigen.

Suffering, then, accordingto Struck, is not the reasonfor writing, insteadit is the actual
be
it
the
In
the caseof the womanwriter would
writing which causes author suffering.

35
both
"Das
Johanna
W6rdemann
to
the
support
sides
of
argument,
out:
points
as
possible
Wiedererkennen,das Anerkennendes eigenen- mitgeteilten- Leidensim Leiden anderer
ist sowohlSelbstaffirmationals auch'Ausweg'*.'

The loss of a parentor a child can be

for
feelings
be
the
the
to
on paper
catalyst
writing,
whilst
act
of
coherently
expressing
seen
proves equally painful, yet cathartic. The writer, perhaps subconsciously, calls on the

be
Although
the
considered
and
sympathy.
subject-matter
could
reader's empathy
depressing, even morbid, the reader might in fact feel better about his/her own situation,

havingread aboutsomeoneelse'smisfortunes.
It should at this point be reiterated that these women writers are appealing to other

to
to
that
their
as
as
shareand
are
common,
well
acknowledge
problems
women
ordinary
This
their
aspossible
position.
notionof malcingone'swriting asrepresentative
understand
is, however,on shakyground,whenwe notethat mostof thesewriters stemfrom middleis
have
had
It
backgrounds
and
a universityeducation.
perhapsalreadya signof their
class
in
being
to
themselves
the
they
that
on
are
of
able
analyse
privileged
position
emancipation
from
be
by
likely
is
It
than
that
a
read someone
suchworks will only
also more
paper.
because
in
be
And,
background
otherwise
contrastto a
empathy
would
unlikely.
similar
fiction,
thesewomen writers are not providing a make-believeworld where
of
writer
dreamscometrue and into which the readercan escape. Nevertheless,it is worth noting
thatSchwaiger'sfirst autobiographical
novel Me kommtdasSalzins Meer (1977)hasbeen
the most successfulpost-1945d6but novel by a German-spealdng
author since GOnter
Grass'Die Blechtrommel(1959)." Clearly manyfemalereadershavebeenableto identify
failure
breakdown
her
Schwaiger's
the
the
of
portrayal of
of
middle-classmarriage,
with
in
issues
love
thoughts
affair, an abortion and
of suicide, which appearas central
a
Trauenliteratur'. In an interviewin 1984Schwaigerherselfmakesthe following pointwith

36
her
first
ich,
daB
"Es
to
the
reception
of
novel:
wie so viele
war nur zufffilig,
regard
4W

Frauen, meine Erfahrungen in einer sehr unglcklichenEhe benutzenkonnte beim


64

Schreiben".

To conclude, we are not seeking to place all women writers of German into one
Trauenliteratur.
to
we
refer
when
category

This modem trend is such that it incorporates

different
aimsand styles,which at timesrun parallelto the generaltrendsof men
many
so
literature
German
In
the
a
collection
writers.
of
and
women
essays
on
women
and
traditional expectations of what and how men and women are supposed to write are

commenteduponthus:

It has becomecommonplaceof Germanliterary history that


only men are capableof masteringthe so-calledobjective
genres(drama, epic poetry, historical novels, experimental
novels, Bildungsromane,novellas)or of using sophisticated
(irony,
techniques
satire, metaphor, symbolism,
stylistic
rhetoric), while women were relegated to the so-called
subjectivegenresOyricpoetry, romances)andnon-literaryor
diaries).
In
(letters,
such a
of
writing
modes
pre-literary
for
author
a subjectivemodewould
who opts
contexta male
be expandinghis horizonsin order to becomea total person,
be
indulges
in
the
malegenreswould
whereasa womanwho
15
her
for
censured
presumption.

37
Nowadays,Trauenliteratur'offersa variedscopeof themesandtechniqueswhichunderline
the superfluousness
of a simple definition. We have to do away with the conceptof
literatureby women,aboutwomenandfor women,and concentrateon the fact that this is
by
founded
from
female
literature
written
women
who
are
on social
a
perspective
a
writing
from
different
those of men. Hence,
areas
and
of
reality,
which
are
naturally
conditions

this is not a literaturefighting for therights of women,but onewhich portraysthe everyday


in
in
Germany,
have
Austria
Switzerland.
As
of
women
and
seen this survey
we
existence
of Trauenliteratur' and autobiography, women's self-definition clearly has strong ties with
her social status, as the literary critic Elaine Showalter aptly summarisesfor us:

Womenwriters shouldnot be studiedas a distinct group on


the assumptionthat they write alike, or evendisplay stylistic
distinctivelyfeminine. But womendo havea
resemblances,
includes
literary
history
to
special
susceptible analysis,which
suchcomplexconsiderations
astheeconomicsof their relation
to literary marketplace;the effects of social and political
in
changes
women's status upon individuals, and the
implications of stereotypesof the woman writer and
"
her
artistic autonomy.
restrictionsof

38
NOTES TO INTRODUCTION

SallyEmersonconsidersusing"a malepennameto deflectcriticismsthat women's


writing displaysa louchedisregardfor housekeeping".Tersonal View', Sunday
77mes,19 June 1988.

Details from Manfred Jurgensen,Deutsche Frauenautoren der Gegenwart (Bern:


Francke, 1983), p. 12.

LottemiDoorman,ed. Keinerschiebtunsweg(WeinheimandBasel:Beltz, 1979),


,
p.243.

Rob Bums and Wilfried van der,Will, Protest and Democracyin WestGermany
(London:MacmillanPress,1988),p. 137.

Marlis Gerhardt, 'Wohin geht Nora? Auf der Suchenach der verlorenenFrau',
Kursbuch,47 (Berlin: Rotbuch,Mrz, 1977),pp.77-89, p.86.

H. D. Schfer,'Droht dasEndeder Literatur?' Die Welt, 13 October1971.

PeterUwe Hohendahl,Tolitisierung der Kunsttheorie:zur sthetischen


Diskussion
nach 1965', in DeutscheLiteratur in der Bundesrepublikseli 1965, ed. by P.M.
Liltzeler and E. Schwarz(K6nigstein/Ts.:Athendum,1980),pp.282-299(p.290).

39
8

Sylvia Schwab,Autobiographikund Lebenserfahrung:Versucheiner 7pologie


deutschsprachigerautobiographischer
Schriftenzwischen1965und1975(Wrzburg:
K6nigshausen
and Neumann,1981),p.9.

Weigel refers to the year only in the footnotes. Sigrid Weigel, "'Woman Begins
Relating to Herself": Contemporary GermanWomen's Literature (Part One)', New
German Critique, 31 (1984), 53-94 (p.59).

10

For further detailsseeWeigel, p.65.

11

'Frauenoffensive'was the first women's press foundedin Munich in 1976by a


groupof womenwho hadbeenpublishinga seriesof feministworks since1974for
the 'Trikont Verlag.

In the sameyear (1976) the 'Verlag Frauenpolitik' was

foundedin Monster,followedby TrauenbuchverlagAntje Kunstmann'in Munich,


in Berlin and 'Amazonenverlag'also in Berlin.
'Frauenselbstverlag'

12

'Beitrge sterreichischerSchriftstellerinnenzur
Sigrid Schmid-Bortenschlager,
Literatur seit 1945',ModemaSprdk,2 (1981), 149-162(p. 149). During the period
1905-1948Hedwig Courths-Mahlerproducedover 207 novels of which over 40
first
She
her
have
been
in
languages.
wrote
sold world-wide various
million copies
have
known
Scheinehe
to
the
written up to
at
age of seventeenand was
novel
fourteenbooks, eachover three hundredpageslong, in one year, that year being
1920. She is just one example of a woman writer whose works are today
categorisedunderthe term 'Trivialliteratur'.

40
13

Weigel, pp. 82-83.

14

Eva Koch-Klenske,"Solches Sprechenist aucheine Heilung

Gesprchmit
......

Brigitte Schwaiger',in Die Sprachedes Vatersim Krper der Mutter, ed. by Rolf
Haubl,- Eva Koch-Klenske and Hans-JOrgen Linke (Giessen: Anabas, 1984),

pp.153-162(p.156).

15

Weigel, p. 82.

16

Weigel, p.54.

17

Manfred Jurgensen,'Was ist Frauenliteratur?


' in Frauenliterattir, ed. by M.
Jurgensen(Mnchen:dtv, 1985),pp.13-39(p.27).

18

The Bristol Women'sStudiesGroup,eds,Halfthe Sky.An Introductionto Women's


Studies(London:Virago, 1979),p.239.

19

sthetik?
' sthetikund
Silvia Bovenschen,'ber die Frage:Gibt eseineweiblicbe
Kommunikation,25 (1976),60-75. Two yearslater the samequestionis posedby
sthetik?
'Gibt es eine weibliche
two other writers: Friederike Hassauer-Roos,
ber denverrcktenDiskursder Sprachlosen',7heaterheute,78 (1978), 116-123,
sthetik?
1
(1978)9
',
Kurbisken,
Hiltrud
Gng,
'Gibt
and
es eine weibliche
131-140.

41
20

Seefor exampleSilvia Bovenschen,


Die imaginlerteWeiblichkeit(Frankfurta.M.:
Suhrkamp,1979);Inge Stephanand Sigrid Weigel, Die verborgeneFrau (Berlin:
Argument, 1985).

21

Magdelene Heuser, Trauen-Literatur-Sprache', Diskussion Deutsch, 12 (1981),

383-405(p.393).

22

Malina (1971) was the first novel in Bachmann'strilogy, entitled Todesarten. Only
fragments remain of the two sequels, Der Fall Franza and Requiemfar Fanny

Goldman. Malina was, in fact, her only novel to be publishedwhilst Bachmann

was ive.

23

Rita Felsld,BeyondFeministAesthetics(London:HutchinsonRadius,1989),p. 14.

24

', p. 19.
ManfredJurgensen,'Was ist Frauenliteratur?

25

ManfredJurgensen,
der Gegenwart(Bern:Francke,1983),
DeutscheFrauenautoren
p.311.

26

VerenaStefan'sHautungen(1975)is frequentlycited as "a symbol for the breakthrough of women's literature" (Weigel, p.61). Stefan herself was an active
memberof the Women's Movementand intentionally wrote in such a way that
readerscould identify with her experiencesand at the sametime shewould speak

42
had
behalf
first
book
her
By
250,000
the
on
of women.
mid-80sover
copiesof
beensold.

27

In her bookaboutthenarrativestrategiesof twentieth-century


womenwritersRachel
Blau Du Plessis remarks that "while hardly all of the writers would describe

themselves
as feminists,andsome,indeed,resistthatterm, onemayassertthatany
female cultural practice that makesthe 'meaning production process' itself 'the site
of struggle' may be considered feminist".

Wifting Beyond the Ending

(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985), p. 34.

28

Significantfeminist works include GermaineGreer's YheFemaleEunuch(1970),


Simonede Beauvoir's 7he SecondSex(trans. and ed. by H. M. Parshley,1953).
Kate Millett's SexualPolitics (1977),Luce Ifigaray's Et Punene bougepas sans
Pautre(1979),H616neCixous' 'The Laughof the Medusa'(trans.by Keith Cohen
and PaulaCohen,Signs, 1,1976).

29

RosalindCoward separatesso-calledfeminist novelsinto four categories: novels


which maketheir allegianceto the women'smovementvery apparent;novelswhich
haveas their centralthemethe aspirationsof feminism;novelswhich are written by
femaleauthorswho havetheorisedaboutfeminismin otherworks; andnovelswhich
illustrate women'soppressionbut do not deal with feminismas such.
RosalindCoward, "'This Novel ChangesLives": Are Women's Novels Feminist
Novels? A Responseto RebeccaO'Rourke'sArticle ,SummerReading"',Feminist
Review,5 (1980)t53-64 (p.58).

43
30

AndreasHuyssen,'Mapping the Postmodern',New GermanCritique, 83 (1984),


5-52 (p.51).

31

Seepage5 of this chapter.

32

Sigrid Weigel, Die Stimmeder Medusa,(Dfllmen-Hiddingsel:tende, 1987),p.55.

33

Sigrid Weigel, 'Double Focus: On the History of Women's Writing', Feminist

Aesthetics,ed. by GiselaEcker (London: The Women's Press, 1985), pp.59-90


(p.72).

34

Seefor exampleBrigitte Schwaiger'sfirst autobiographicalnovel Me kommtdas


Salzins Meer (1977).

35

Weigel, 'Double Focus', p.72.

36

Weigel, 'Double Focus', p.72.

37

Othernamesfor this literary trendinclude: 'NeueInnerlichkeit', 'NeueSensibilitdt'


and 'Tendenzwende'.

38

JohannaWrdemann, 'Schreibenum zu berlebenoder Schreibenals Arbeit.


Notizen zum Treffen schreibenderFrauenin Mnchen,Mai 1976', Alternativeg
108/109,(1976), 115-118(p.115).

44

39

Schwab,p. 10.

40

Ingrid Aichinger, Trobleme der Autobiographieals Sprachkunstwerk',sterreich


in GeschichteundLiteratur, 14 (1970),418-434(p.427).

41

Philippe Lejeune, 'The AutobiographicalContract', in French Literary Theory


Toddy: A Reader, ed. by Tzvetan Todorov (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1982), p. 202.

42

SeeRita Felski's chapter'On Confession,BeyondFeministAesthetics,(London:


HutchinsonRadius, 1989),pp.86-121.

43

Felski, p. 112.

44

Schwab,p.248.

45

Albert von Schimding,'Schreibenals Rettungsaktion.GabrieleWohmannsAusflug


der
Mutter', Sddeutsche
Zeitung, 11 November1976.
mit

46

Karin Richter-Schrder,Frauenliteraturund weiblicheIdentitt (Frankfurt a.M.:


Hain, 1986),p. 155.

47

Sally Emersonmakestheinterestingpoint that "a novelistoften writes his first book


better than his subsequentonesbecausehe doesnot believe that his first will be

45
lovers.
friends,
his
He
freely
his
his
therefore
published.
can
emotions,
write
of
He doesnot believethat anyonehe knowswill be studyinghis work".
Sally Emerson,'PersonalView', Sunday77mes,19 June 1988.

48

Adelbert Reif, 'Ohne Todesangstwrde ich keine Romaneschreiben. Gesprchmit

GabrieleWohmann',Die Welt, 6 July 1992.

49

Birgit Leonhardt, 'Interview mit Waltraud Anna Mitgutsch', Buchreport, Nr. 23,5

June1985.

50

Karin Struck, KindheitsEnde (Frankfurta. M.: Suhrkamp,1982),p. 188.

51

ManfredJurgensen,Tas Endeder Sucht?' Zu Karin StrucksUournal einer Krise"


Kindheits Ende', in Frauenliteratur,ed. by M. Jurgensen(Mnchen:dtv, 1985),
pp.171-186(p.173).

52

Struck, KindheitsEnde, p.444.

53

Struck, KindheltsEnde, p.497.

54

Jurgensen,p. 185.

55

Weigel, Die Stimmeder Medusa,p. 154.

46
56

Peter Henisch, Die kleine Figur meines Vaters (Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, 1980),

p.76.

57

JrgenSerke,FrauenSchreiben(Frankfurta. M.: Fischer, 1982),p. 10.

58

in
RenateMhrmann,'FeministischeTrendsin der deutschenGegenwartsliteratur',
Deutsche Gegenwartsliteratur, ed. by Manfred Durzak (Stuttgart: Reclam. 1981),

337-358
(pp.
340-342).
pp.

59

Paul KonradKurz, ZwischenWiderstandund Wohlstand(Frankfurta. M.: Knecht,


1986),p. 16.

60

SandraFrieden,Autobiography:Sey into Fonn (Bern: P. Lang, 1983),p. 107.

61

Struck, KindheitsEnde, p. 14.

62

JohannaWrdemann, 'Schreibenum zu berlebenoder Schreibenals Arbeit.


Notizen zum Treffen schreibenderFrauenin Mnchen,Mai 1976', Alternative, 5
(1976), 115-118,( p. 116).

63

Details from ChristaGrtler, SchreibenFrauenanders?(Stuttgart:Akademischer


verlag Hans-DieterHeinz, 1985),p.74.

64

Eva Koch-Klenske,p. 156.

47

65

SusanL. CocalisandKay Goodman,ed., Beyondthe Eternal Feminine(Stuttgart:


AkademischerVerlag Hans-DieterHeinz, 1982),pp.35-36.

66

JosephineDonovan, ed., Feminist Literary Criticism (Lexington: University Press


of Kentucky, 1975), p. 13.

48
CHAPTER ONE: DEATH OF A FATHER: START OF A STORY

A comparisonof ElisabethPlessen'sMitteflung an denAdel (1976),Brigitte Schwaiger's


LangeAbwesenheit(1980)and JuttaSchutting'sDer Vater (1980)illustratesthe ways in
daughters
three
write about their fathers' death and try to come to terms with the loss
which

books
These
have
first,
been
for
three
this
they
parent.
selected a numberof reasons:
of
daughter-father
the
relationship,about which little has been written, either in
present
literature;
in
have
fact
father
three
the
that
the
or
secondary
second,
all
common
primary
has recently died prior to the opening of the narrative. Clearly the immediacy of death

doeshavea significantinfluenceon the thoughtsof thesedaughtersand, as will be shown,


the loss of the father plays a crucial part in each daughter's search for her own identity.

The three works and their authors are also representativeof the literature being
in
Germany
by
Austria
today
and
writers, who areanalysingthemselves
andtheir
published
families
in
their
with
order to understandwho they are. In contrastto the
relationships
German
IVergangenheitsbewdltigung'
the
the
of
and collectiveresponsibility
peopledepicted
in the works of GOnterGrass,Heinrich B611and SiegfriedLenz, amongstothers, these
youngerwriters turn to the personalsphere,exploring intimate relationshipsas well as
highlightingthegenerationgapbetweenparentsandchildren. Plessen'sfemaleprotagonist,
her
father's
death,
funeral,
hearing
home
for
travels
the
of
sudden
which sheendsup
on
is
four-day
her
from
The
journey
Munich
Schleswigby
to
story
of
not attending.
car
Holstein, during which the daughterreflects on her relationshipwith her father: the
between
a conservative,authoritarianlandownerfrom thearistocracyanda radical,
conflict
politically-motivatedstudent, who participatesin the student demonstrationsof 1968.
Conflicts of opinionsbetweendaughterand father is also evident in Schwaiger'swork,
in
father's
daughter,
her
death,
trying
to
her
father's
the
to
terms
come
recalls
where
with

49
father.
is
be
her
her
Jew,
Peter
Birer,
to
affair with a
who old enough
antisemitismand
Whilst both Plessen's and Schwaiger's works do suggest that the politics of a

German/Austrianpastinfluencethe attitudeandbehaviourof daughterand father, thereis


impetus
in
Schutting's
Der
Vater.
Once
again the narrative openswith
such
political
no
the daughter having just heard of her father's death and describesher reaction to this news

funeral
her
days
the
the
three
to
efforts
service,which she
ensuing
over
next
organise
and
her
family.
Naturally,
to
the
the
the
too,
extent which
rest of
considers
she,
attendswith
father influenced her upbringing and meditateson their relationship. As in the two other
in
here,
is
featured
lovelhatred
father
the
of
presented graphic terms
authoritarian
works

by the writer.
In this chapterwe shallexploretherelationshipbetweenfatheranddaughterby looking
1945
home
father's
development
German
the
the
the
the
and
since
of
authority
within
at
briefly
look
We
daughter-father
theory
the
will
surrounding
relationship.
psychoanalytical
at the internationalliterary sceneto recentworks by Elaine Feinstein,Sylvia Fraserand
GermaineGreer to recognisethat the daughter-fatherrelationshipis not just a trend in
interest
is
from
literature
but
German-spealcing
and
of
global
countries,
modem

father-portrayals
We
that
these
the
shall
also
reflect
on
similarities
significance.
possible
by
have
by daughtersfrom German-speaking
those
sons,suchas the
written
countries
with
'Abrechnung'with the Nazi past. We will thenbe in a positionto considerthe extentto
by
historical
in
the
traits
relationshipsportrayed
are evident
which psychoanalyticaland
Plessen,SchwaigerandSchutting. In order to be able to understandthe possibleeffect of
before
first,
be
his
daughter,
father's
death
father
the
on
a
role of the
should considered
literary
texts.
these
analysing

50
The word 'father' conjuresup severalanalogies,suchas 'God, theFather', 'fatherland',
'Idngdom' and 'patriarchy'. Indeed, the head of the family (pater familias) can trace his

in
his
to
back
to
the
to
the
public,
and
children
wife
chief
clan,
representing
of
roots
for
had
He
but
the right
them.
to
them
the
also carrying responsibility
commandingover
fact
indicated
by
duty
his
His
the
to
the
total,
control was
as
educate children.
as well as

that his family namebecamethe nameof his own family. Up until as late as 1977andthe
implementation of the new marriage laws this had still been the case in West Germany.
In Christianity (including Judaism and Islam) God has always been a father-figure. Any
in
do
to
therefore,
of
religion
away
with patriarchy might suggesta renunciation
attempt,

for
in
demands
Yet,
the
equality,
security
general.
and
as
a
result
of
women's
particular
is
father
is
in
The
disintegrating.
the
the
role of
processof gradually
stateof patriarchy
likewisechanginganda new fatherimageis emerging. As mothersgo out to work andthe
father
family
longer
the
the
shrinks,
no
rules the clan.
size of
The period after World War Two andup until the 1970sheraldedthe endof a German
father'ssupremacyin the home. He hadbeendefeatedin war andhadto carry the blame.
Within the family he initially attemptedto asserthis authority in order to compensatefor

his senseof public humiliation:

Geradeweil die Werte und Ideale, fr die sie gekmpft


Vter um
hatten,zerstrtwaren, suchtendie heimgekehrten
Familien
ihren
Haft
Lebenssinn
zu
in
so verzweifelter
und
finden; als Erzieherwenigstensdie Autoritt zu behaupten,
'
hatten.
die sie als Staatsbrger
lange
Zeit
auf
verloren

51
The father believed that he could redeem himself by continuing to bring up his children

accordingto strict Prussianstandards. He was certainly not preparedto tolerateany


his
from
Germany
his
West
thoughts
With
the
of
criticism
rebuilding
children.
questionsor
turnedto work, to creatingprosperityandachievingsuccess.As JessicaBenjaminexplains
in her discussionof Max Horkheimer's conceptualisationof the problem of fatherlessness:
"The father's authority derived not from any intrinsic admirable characteristics, but by
'
his
breadwinner,
his
the
status as
purse".
power of
virtue of

In the 1950s and 1960s

became
so materialistically oriented that even children were regardedas suitable
everything
but
fathers
become
fact
In
to
tendency
the
ambitious, so
not
necessary.
symbols
of
status

in
has
families
detached
from
term
that
the
their
their
meant
work
and
up
wrapped
"vaterloseGesellschaft",first coinedby the psychologistAlexanderMitscherlichin 1963,
is still applicabletoday.' At thetime Mitscherlichwasreferringto a generationof children
leamt
influence
longer
lives,
fathers
these
their
of their
children
could
no
once
whose
fathers' guilt-riddenpast:

Zwar ahnten sie, taub geschlagenvon der Propagandades

des
"kaltenKrieges"und eingeschlfert
vom Konsum-Zauber
"Wirtschaftswunders%
lange nicht, was hinter der groen
lag; und doch lebten sie in dem dumpfen
Schweigemauer
Gefhl,dabei dieserGeneration,die einederartighektische
"Wiedemufbau"-Munterkeitan den Tag legte, irgendetwas
nicht stimmte- nicht stimmenkonnte

52
With the reformsof marriageand family law in 1977,wherebywomenwere no longer
for
household
intended
the
to be a partnershipof
responsible
and
marriage
solely
was
/

5
fathers
began
interest
in
family
law
divorce
A
to
take
their
an
was
again.
new
role
equals,

introducedwhich

allowedfor divorceon thebasisof maritalbreakdownwithout


a 9guilty' sentencefor either party, provided that a couple had
lived apart for at least one year ( ) women's rights to their
...
share in the family possessionsremained unimpaired even if

they 'walked out'.'

After 1976a wife's maidennamecould alsobe chosenas the family surname. Realising
that their authority,responsibilityandrights werebeingunderminedby women'sinsistance
fathers
began
fight
for
to
their rights, particularlywith regardto custodyof
on equality,
their childrenin divorcecases.
During the last decadeor so the numberof singlefathershasbeenincreasingsteadily
but it is still relatively small.' Evidently thereare signsof a 'new father' on the horizon.
He participatesin the birth of his child, helpsto feed and bathethe baby, evenchanges
is
implies
but
househusband
the
to
take
role of
a readiness
on
nappies, an equalitywhich
in reality a long way off. For their book entitledSagt uns, wo die Vilter sind, published
in 1991,CherylBenardandEdit Schlaffer,both sociologists,spenttwo yearsinterviewing
fathers.
Nearly all the menagreedthat they wantedto
and,
above
children
all,
mothers,
be different from their own fathersand had every good intention of becomingactively

52
With the reformsof marriageand family law in 1977,wherebywomenwere no longer
for
intended
household
be
the
to
a partnershipof
and
marriage
responsible
was
solely
5
law
interest
in
divorce
began
family
fathers
A
to
take
their
was
an
again.
new
role
equals,
introduced which

allowedfor divorceon thebasisof maritalbreakdownwithout


a 9guilty' sentencefor either party, provided that a couple had
lived apart for at least one year (... ) women's rights to their
share in the family possessionsremained unimpaired even if

they 'walked out'.'

After 1976a wife's maidennamecould alsobe chosenas the family surname. Realising
insistance
by
being
their
that
authority,responsibilityandrights were
undermined women's
fathers
began
fight
for
to
their rights, particularlywith regardto custodyof
on equality,
their childrenin divorcecases.
During the last decadeor so the numberof singlefathershasbeenincreasingsteadily
but it is still relatively small.7 Evidently thereare signsof a 'new father' on the horizon.
He participatesin the birth of his child, helpsto feed and bathethe baby, evenchanges
is
implies
househusband
but
the
to
take
role of
on
a readiness
nappies, an equalitywhich
in reality a long way off. For their book entitledSagt uns, wo die Vilter sind, published
in 1991,CherylBenardandEdit Schlaffer,both sociologists,spenttwo yearsinterviewing
fathers.
to
they
Nearly
that
the
wanted
agreed
and,
above
all,
children
all
men
mothers,
be different from their own fathersand had every good intention of becomingactively

53
involvedin theupbringingof their children. But thesefindingsshowthat suchwisheshave
into
been
put
practice:the desirefor recognitionat work is far too great:
never

Vereinzelt sei ihnen der als kulturelle Neuerscheinung


vielgepriesene "aktive Vater" begegnet, erklren die
Soziologinnen,doch meistensredetendie Mnner lediglich
davon, da ihre Kinder das Wichtigste in ihren Leben seien.
Wenn es darauf ankomme, htten sie leider eine Sitzung,
einen Termin, eine wichtige Besprechung.'

in his analysisof the changingrole of the fatherin the twentiethcenturyReinhartLempp


following
"Eine
Geichberechtigung
Vater
to
the
tatsdchliche
conclusion:
and
von
comes
Mutter in ihrer Beziehung zum Kinde entsteht nur dort, wo die Mutter wirklich fehlt". '

Ironically, though,it seemsthat in modemWesternsocietyit is the father who continues


to be an absentor peripheralfigure in the family.
According to classicalpsychoanalytictheory, a child acquiresidentification with his/her

Oedipal
between
the
the agesof
a
as
result
of
so-called
stage
phase
or
role
phallic
sexual
threeand six, wherebythe child has to represshis/her sexualdesirefor the parentof the
learning
identify
by
father
her
his
to
either
masculinity
or
sex
with
and
motherand
opposite
femininity. At the outsetboth son and daughteridentify with the motheras the primary
love object, but expressionof sexualfeelingstowardsthe motherby the son is prevented
by the fatherandincesttaboos. By competingwith his fatherfor his mother'slove the son
fears losing his father's love and being punishedby him (possiblethreat of castration),

54
hence he identifies with his father's strength and power in order to becomelike him. He

his proper sex-roleidentification.


therebyresolvesany conflict andestablishes
To datelittle attentionhasbeenpaidby psychoanalysts
to the significanceof the fatherdaughterrelationship. This may stemfrom the fact that Freud himself was uncertain about
how girls resolved the equivalent Electra complex, that is, rivalry between mother and

daughterfor the father'slove, becausethe daughterdid not face the threatof castration:

Although the psychoanalytic theory of female development


has not yet recognized the importance of the missing father,

clinicians have begun to realize the girl's equal need to


identify with her father and the consequences
if he is
10
for
identification.
unavailable such

Benardand Schlafferhavemadea similar discoverywith regardto the effect of a father's


absenceon a girl:

Fr die Tochter ist der Vater - und die Grnde seiner

Abwesenheit,ob durch Tod, Scheidung,Brosucht oder


inneresDesinteresse,
sinddabeierstzweitrangigwichtig - ein
mnnlichesPhantom, das sie noch sehr lange als trber
Schatten auf ihrem Lebensweg begleiten wird.

Ein

engagierterVater leistet einen Beitrag zu Erziehung und


Sozialisation,aber auchvon einemabwesenden
Vater kann

55
man eine Menge lernen, z.B. Mnnern nicht zu vertmuen, sie
"
idealisieren.
bermig
aber andererseits
zu

This aspectof the father-daughterrelationship is of particular interest and relevanceto this


identity
her
for
daughter
because
whilst writing about
quest
portrays a certain
each
study,

her father. The significanceof the fatherin the daughter'slife will, thus,becomeapparent.
Another considerationfor interpreting the relationship between father and daughter is
the suggestion that the Oedipus complex is appearing at a later stage of a child's
development, namely during puberty, and is adopting a different, almost dangerousform

inasmuchasparentsarereluctantto let their childrengo. CertainlY,aswe shall see,sexual


innuendosdo occur betweenfather and daughter in theseliterary portrayals:

Das neueund offenbarzunehmendhufigereProblemist das


Bemhender Vter bzw. der Mtter, ihre Tchterbzw. ihre
Shneals Tchterund Shnebei sich zu haltenund an sich
binden.
die
inzwischen
keine
Shne
Da
Tchter
aber
und
zu

kleinen Kinder mehr sind, sondernihre Geschlechtsreife

der
bringt
haben,
dieses
Festhalten
an
engen
erworben
Beziehung
fr
dieheranwachsenden
Bindung
emotionalen
und
Kinder die Gefahr und Bedrohungnach wie vor streng
tabuierter sexueller Nhe mit sich.`

56
Recentpsychoanalytictheory, however,doesnot place such importanceon the Oedipus
its
identification,
instead
it
sex-role
and
concentrates
on the emotionalrelationship
complex
betweena child andtwo adults,thecreationandmaintenance
of this triangularrelationship.
by the mother,whilst the fatherrepresents
Traditionallythe naturalworld is represented
the world of business,law and order, and travel. He can guide his child into the world,

family
the
of
outside
unit. Nancy Chodorowalso observesthesestereotypical
a reality
parental Toles:

Fathers are on the outside of the family of the self-, while

mothersare defined by their role in the family. Fathers


symbolizeautonomyand independence;motherssymbolize
"
dependence.
nurturanceand

it will be interestingto notethat the daughtersin theseselectedworks want to be anything


but dependenton someoneelse. Furthermore,similaritiesbetweenfather and daughterdo
I
intention
implication
is
daughters
have
becoming
A
that
these
no
of
possible
exist.
daughter
family.
father
flees
To
Each
the
the
education,
seeks
a professionand
mothers.
is ascribednot only the importanceof influencingher sex-roledevelopmentbut also her
autonomy:

It is the father who encouragesthe child to relinquish her


symbioticattachmentto mother;he who reinforcesher urgent
he, in short,who imparts
yet tentativeneedfor independence;
the inherentvalue of being a separateperson."

57
Similarly, Erich Frommbelievesthatit is possibleto differentiatebetweenfatherlylove and
former
love:
beingconditional,the latter unconditional. On the one hand,a
the
motherly
its
father's
love,
is
has
by
being
to
there
the
earn
normally
obedient,
otherwise
child
his
love
is
hand,
love
that
the
might
vanish;
on
other
unlike motherly
which
possibility
beyonda child's control, fatherly love can be acquiredby actually doing somethingto
deserveit. This type of love is dependentuponmerit andimplies "that one is loved

-Q-rLIY

becauseone pleases,that one is, in the last analysis, not loved at all but used"."
During their own critical reflection the daughtersin the literary works to be considered
instance,
in
for
Lange
Abwesenheit,
to
the narrator stressesthat
conclusion.
similar
a
come

in
her
father's
life
his
daughter
than
to
she
served
no
other
purpose
comply
with
as a
her
Such
filial
that
existence.
was
submission,as well as the refusal to play the
orders:
dutiful,
daughter
father's
before
death,
be
the
the
passive
and
after
will
shownto
part of
be featuresof theseparticularrelationships. In fact, eachdaughterportrays not only the
family-man,the fatherat home,but alsothe professionalman, the father at work. In this
likewise,
focus
first
love/hate
the
the
shall,
on
personal
realm,
we
relationship
chapter
betweendaughterand father highlightedby the processof bereavementas well as the
daughter'sown identity crisis. The themeof identity leadsto the secondareaof analysis,
background
daughter,
her
her
the
the
of
own upbringingas well
social
criticism
of
namely
during
is
Socialist
father's
National
It
her
this
the
professional
conduct
period
rule.
of
as
latter aspectwhich, in contrast to the generalpsychologicaltheme of father-daughter
ironically,
Somewhat
these
German.
makes
works
specifically
and
uniquely
relationships,
then, the private issuesare of general significanceand target or appeal to a wider
issues
in
form
the
the
public
whilst
of collectiveguilt andsharedresponsibility
relationship,
for pastatrocitiesare aimedat a Germanreadership. It will be necessaryto unravelthese

58
two strands separatelyin order to understandthe importanceof the daughter-father
discover
fathers'
daughters.
to
to
these
their
and
what
extent
writers
are
relationship
hereon womenwriters from German-speaking
Althoughwe areconcentrating
countries,
it shouldbe pointedout thatthis intereston thepart of daughtersin publishingworks about
their fathers in recent years has not just been a Germanic phenomenon. The following

threeworks arecited to indicatethetype of daughter-father


relationshipsfeaturedin novels
by English-spealdng female authors and the extent to which the father/daughter theme
international
interest
be
Feinstein's
Elaine
to
of
and
novel Mother's
relevance.
continues

face
face
to
Girl (1988),for example,depictstwo stepsisters
who come
on the day of their
father's funeral. The older daughter,Halina, recallsthe eventsof her upbringingas a Jew
in Budapestin the 1930s,her exile in Englandand her lonelinessthereafterwithout her
had
help
disappeared
in
her
Jews;
Her
Budapest
to
mother
after
rescue
remaining
parents.
father had eventuallyleft for Americawherehe remarriedand stayedfor ten yearsbefore
first
his
daughter.
between
for
family
The
the
two
women
conversation
reveals
searching
is
biased
had
father
her
Halina,
the
towards
though
she
narrative
nursed
since
secrets,
during the last years of his life, when a brain tumour was discoveredand he became
bedridden. Halina attemptsto explain the identity of the man whom her Americanhalfloved,
for
fact
despised
left
knew,
hated
he
had
the
that
never
only
and
really
sisternever
her and her mother. Although the tide of this novel suggestsa work concerningthe
father
in
is
life.
it
Halina's
the
the
who
plays
most
significant
role
mother,

On his

deathbed,with Halina by his side, he seeksforgivenessof his first wife: the daughter
becomesthe mother,asher fatherexplainshow he left Budapestwithouthis wife, believing
that she was dead. The novel concludeswith the funeral serviceand Halina's discovery
belief
had
been
father's
her
correct. His action was thusvindicated.
that

59
As in the case of the Germanic daughter-fatherportrayals, Feinstein uses the death of

the fatherand the funeralserviceto bring togethertwo estrangedsistersand to trigger the


justifying
finds
herself
both
daughters.
daughter
The
the
of
one
process
recollection
behaviour of the father for whom she had learnt to care, even love:

Halina found herself trapped into defending Leo. "Please.


You didn't know Father. You always saw him through your

implacable
believe
he
deserved
I
such
mother'seyes. can't
hatred"."

Mother's Girl is not a novel with apparentautobiographicalfeatures. InsteadFeinstein


depictstwo daughterswho respectivelyembodytheemotionsof love andhatetowardstheir
deceasedfather, but who are both tormentedby the pain they experience. Like the
daughters
have
be
to cometo termswith the past
in
these
to
the
daughters
analysed,
works
sympathyandangertakeplace
in order to facethe future. Communication,understanding,
German-speaking
female
In
the
Feinstein's
two
protagonists.
contrast,
writers
between

have
to
than
to
communicate
one
with
other
no
whom
appear
who
narrators
present
is
faced
fact
The
that
the
the
not
with a one-sided
reader
reader.
themselvesandeventually
from
'confessional,
different
Feinstein's
these
almost
works.
novel
makes
perspective
daughter
father
invite
the
do
the
the
through
the
to
boolks
eyes
of
Two
reader see
which
(1987)
Healing
Incest
House.
Memoir
Father's
A
My
Fraser's
and
Sylvia
and
of
only are
17
books
(1989).
You
Both
We
Hardly
Knew
Daddy,
Greer's
are autobiographies
Germaine
highly
in
I-form
the
emotional
sometimes
and
revealing
personal,
the
narrating
writer
with
her
behind
Sylvia
forty
Fraser
the
truth
For
to
recall
years
was
unable
memories.

60
father.
her
She
had
during
back
her
that
time
to
to
the
with
managed
push
of
relationship

fear,
day
her
father
feelings
died,
the
and
pain
guilt
until
of
when she suddenly
mind
in
freedom,
from
Her
this
a
sense
of
release.
recovery
amnesia
resulted
experienced
her
fact
in
from
her
the
the
that
the
writer
relates
painful
past,
which
age
seven
of
memoir
father had raped her continually: he had never kept his distancefrom his daughter. During
daughter
love
the
that
acknowledges
of
recollection
she
confused
the process
and hatred for
her father becausethe two emotions seemedinseparable. The fear of losing her father's

love, if she disobeyedhim, conflicted with the knowledgethat he was betraying and
bond:
destroyingthe father-daughter

My armsstick to my sides,my legsdanglelike wormsas my


daddyforcesme back againsthis bed. I love my daddy. I
hatemy daddy. Love hatelove hate. Daddy won't love me
love me hate hate hate. I'm afraid to strike with my fists.
I'm afraid to tell my mommy. ( ) Guilt fear guilt fear fear
...
dirty dirty fear

Yet My Father'sHouseis a true storyof love andforgiveness,as SylviaFraserwillingly


her
have
both
the
truth:
mother
she
and
realised
and
accepted
once
admits,

ThoughI don't understandhim, I can pity him and forgive


him. I forgive my fatherso I canf6rgive myself, ( )I also
...
forgive my father becauseI love him. That is the biggest

61
shock of all., Not only that I once loved him but that I love

him evennow."

Recognition of their fathers' faults followed by some form of forgiveness is something


daughters
by
is
these
all
who attempt to understandtheir once powerful
which experienced
fathers. For the German-speakingwriters it will be shown that the recognition occurs
during writing as thoughts and impressionsare developed. This is not the case for Fraser
father's
how
her
has
she
sexual abuseand coped so
survived
retrospectively
recorded
who

becomes
had
happened.
It
later
to
the
the
clear
of
reader
realisation
what
with
manyyears
father
does
daughter-cum-writer
death
the
with the opportunity of
the
provide
each
of
that

is
felt
for
by
love/hatred
This
inexplicable
this
the
notion
supported
man.
she
confronting
interview
journalist
in
diplomat,
Taufar,
abouther deceased
Barbara
and
who, an
oncea
Nazi father, an AustrianSS-officer,madethe following commentwhich, as will become
daughters
feelings
during
these
the
typifies
this
all
andsignals
of
increasinglyevident
study,
for
fathers'
death
their
their
the
post mortemportrayals:
of
necessity,
even
the relevance,

It neededthe eternaldramaof deathfor me to seethat here


judge.
It's
father
had
I
to
that
not
a
no
right
a
man
was
hate
than to understand,yet against all my
to
easier
feelings
lost
I
of revengeand startedto cry.
my
expectations
I was losing my father, my enemy,the manwho shapedme
"
loved
him.
he
died
finally
his
I
I
think
silence.
when
with

62
In her autobiographicalwork Daddy, WeHardly Knew You GermaineGreer records her

father, Reg Greer, and notes:


two-yearsearchto discoverthe backgroundof her deceased
21
become
father-daughter
have
hypnotised
by
I
the
"In my obsessionalway
relationship".
The same could apply to each one of these female authors who has chosen to write about
her father. It is particularly true of the writers selectedfor this chapter because,as in the

illustrates
daughter
desperate
'obsession'
Greer,
the
the
to
the
part
of
a
need
on
caseof
learn who sheis and whereshebelongs. GermaineGreerwrote to Greersall aroundthe
facts
her
father's
Australia,
Britain
India
to
to
the
travelling
about
and
establish
past.
world,

The lies which emergedfrightenedthis daughterso muchthat shebeganto doubt her own
identity, especially since the hero her father had conjured up for the outside world as well

in
fraudster.
As
belied
family,
the
the
his
for
case
of
most
and
a
of
a
coward
revealed
as
in this work her father'sabsencefrom the home;
daughtersin this studyGreeremphasises
his inability to embraceher; his lack of interestin her life to the extentthat shewas even
daughter's
love
indicate,
his
As
from
this
emotions
of
and
each
chapterwill
will.
omitted
hatredtowardsher father becomeconfused:

"You're so worried that he didn't love you. Have you ever


consideredwhetheryou loved him?"
"I did. I do."

"You didn't hunt him down becauseyou loved him, but


hated
him.
"
becauseyou hatedhim. He rejected
you
you and
J

63
"No, no. If I hated him why did it all hurt so much?
Nothinghaseverhurt me sohardandfor so long as his dying
did.

to22

Insecurity about their fathers' love for them is an emotion experiencedby these
daughtersafter the deathof their fathersandcan, as will be discussed,be attributedto the
in
his
Greer's
As
Patrick
Taylor-Martin
novel,
process.
of
review
also suggests
mouming
lack
in
father's
daughter's
be
linked
the
to
of self-confidence general can
reluctance,even
a

his
daughter
love:
to
show
any
refusal,

If it is true that men who were truly loved by their mothers


it
heroes,
life
through
the
appears
go
with
air of conquering
that womenwho were nottruly loved by their fatherscarry
"
burden
disappointment
life-long
and self-doubt.
a
of

Such a suggestion places a great emphasis on the significance of the father-daughter

be
daughters
the
these
could
as
somewhat
although
viewed
exaggerated,
of
and
relationship
literary works do highlight the regretsand frustrationthey feet abouttheir fathers' lack of
love for them. After his deaththe daughter'ssenseof insecurity is likely to continue
becausethe possiblityof ever acquiringher father's love is removedonceand for all, that
is, unlesssheis able to reacha level of understandingwhich allows for forgivenessanda
form of reconciliationwith his memory. In order to achievethis, eachdaughterhas to
father's
his
her
her
both
past,
private
that
and
analyse
public role, and recognise
sheand
father mademistakesin their relationship,that the blame could not rest solely with the

64
is able
father. It will be worth noting, therefore,to what extenteachdaughter-cum-writer
daughters
discover
these
to reachsucha level of understanding,
that
of
some
sincewe may
only seethe flawedimageof their fatherandnot their own faults. The ability of the writer
to analyseher own self in writing may well dependon the extentto which shehascome
to terms with bereavementand acceptedthe loss of her father. When she initially wrote

father
her
GermaineGreer statedin her book that shecould not forgive him for all
about
his lies and that she could not feel sorry for him. At the sametime she was unableto
forgive herselffor unearthingthepast,therebydestroyingthe heroicimageshehadof him.
Yet a shortwhile after publicationof thebook Greerremarkedduring an interview that she
had forgiven her father, but she was not sure that, had he been alive, he would have
forgiven her for all her detectivework.24 The implicationis that the rift betweendaughter
father
would still be as wide as before.
and
Even after deaththe father can underminethe confidenceof the daughterbecauseshe
feelsguilty for havingrevealedsecretsabouthim; for havingportrayedhim in an imperfect
light; for not respectinghis authority; for making him look vulnerable. It is as if the
daughterhas gone behindher father's back and done somethingwithout his permission.
Recollectionsof the father will, thus, haunther in the form of guilt. I suspectthat this is
fathers.
They
for
deceased
likely
to
the
their
the
are
more
case
sons
who
write
about
not
justified
faults
his
father-portrayals
their
eing
morally
as
and
and exposureof
regard
UP
in
his
figure
father
A
a
role
as
public
guilty of committinggmve mistakes
purposeful.
deserve
The
the
might
even
clear
son's
of
criticism.
whole
revelation
process
would
in
his
Henisch
Peter
father's
his
by
wrote
past.
conscience removingany associationwith
bookDie k1eineFigur melnesVaters(1975)that he wasfinding out abouthis father(Walter
Henisch)in order to understandwho he (PeterHenisch)actuallywas:

65
Lieber Papa, schrieb ich, ich frage mich, ob ich Deine
Geschichte nicht dazu benutze, mich von mir selbst
abzusetzen. Nicht total von mir selbst vielleicht, aber
zweifellos von einem ganz gewichtigen Teil meines
Charakters. Indem ich diesenTeil meinesCharaktersin
DeinemCharakterwiederfinde,kannich so tun, als htteich
ihn verloren. Indem ich diesen Teil meines Charakters in
Deinem Charakter dingfest mache, kann ich so tun, als wre

ich ihn los.


(... )

Ich mu mich, glaube ich, aus deiner Geschichte


herausschreiben, mich deiner Geschichte gegenber
"
die
finden.
emanzipieren,um
meinezu

As a result of this searchfor one's self andthe needto breakfree from the burdensof the
pastandestablisha senseof identity, the recognitionas well as the rejectionof the paternal
1'
frequent
features
'VAteffomane'.
role-modelare
of these

The following prose-works

belong to this genre: Peter HenischDie kleine Figur meinesVaters (1975); Elisabeth
PlessenMitteilung an den Adel (1976); Bemward Wesper's posthumouslypublished
'Romanessay'Die Reise (1977); Peter Meier Stationen.Erinnerungenan Jakob Meler,
ZugfhrerSBB (1977);Fritz Zorn Mars (1977);Paul KerstenDer alltgliche Tod meines
Vaters(1978);GerhardWagnerDie Tagewerdenlnger(1978);Sigfrid GauchVaterspuren
(1979);RolandLang Die Mansarde(1979);E.A. RauterBrief an meineErzieher(1979);
Ruth RehmannDer Mann aufder KanzeLFragenan einenVater(1979);HeinrichWiesner

66
Der Riesewn 71sch(1979); ChristopherMeckel Suchbild. ber meinen Vater (1980);
Brigitte SchwaigerLange Abwesenheit(1980); JuttaSchuttingDer Vater (1980); Peter
Liebe (1980);ChristophGeiserBrachland(1980);GnterSeuren
Hrtling Nachgetragene
AbschiedvoneinemMrder (1980);WemerBucherEin anderesLeben.Versuchsich einem
Unbekanntenanzunhem (1981); Ludwig Harig Ordnung ist das ganze Leben. Roman

meines Vaters (1986); Marliese FuhrmannHexenringe.Dialog mit dem Vater (1987);


Auf der Suchenachdem Vater (1991).
Sibylle PlogstedtNiemandstochter.
As children the writers of thesefather-portraits did not questiontheir father's work; they

influence
during
in
by
the
their
these
of
power
and
unaware
professions
exerted
men
were
history.
German
1940s
German
born
during
the
of
period
and
childrenwho were
a crucial

by
found
the
their
themselves
now
at
peakof
confronted the
who were
careerssuddenly
fact
of their fathers' complicity in the Nazi atrocities. These personal
undeniable
interrogations,however,occur after the deathof the father, hencehe is unableto reply.
The reasonsfor this long overduebroachingof the subjectof Nazismin their own family
backgroundsare difficult to define. As Michael Schneiderpointsout, one hasto wonder,

warum die literarische Auseinandersetzungmit

der

Vergangenheit der Vter mit einer so offenkundigen


Versptungeingesetzt,warumkeinerder schreibenden
Shne
und Tchter die Vter schonzu Lebzeitenmit den Fragen
bedrngthat, die sieihnennunins Grabnachschicken.Ist es
dajetzt Tausendeihre Bcherlesen nur
nicht gespenstisch,
die nicht mehr, von denensie handeln?
" >

67
It doesseemsomewhatincrediblethat questionsabouteachfather's activitiesduring Nazi
bringing
his
his
death.
Whilst
before
his
methodof
up
children were not posed
rule and
Konrad
fathers
(and
had,
Brendler,
their
silent.
mothers)
of
course,
remained
alive
Professor of Education at the University of Wuppertal, suggeststhat it was not shameor
feelings of guilt which silenced theseparents:

More than anything else, our actions and reactions in


Germany - then as now - are due to our 'Anstdndigkeit',

propriety-mania. It both dictatesand exalts conductat the


"
price of conscience.

It is plausible,therefore,that this same'Anstdndigkeit'also silencedthe children but once


found
the courage
the
the
adult
writer
concerned
of
person
vanished,
thephysicalpresence
do
Schneider
family
felt
Others
to
the
his/her
then
same.
moreconfident
secrets.
to reveal
is also suspiciousof the reluctanceof thesechildrento ask questions,the fact that scarcely
29
lengthy
'Vdterb0cher'
have
their
these
silence.
own
writers of
questioned
any of
Therewasclearly a marketfor suchworks, particularlyafter the showingon television
ignore
fathers'
in
1979.
These
Holocaust
film
their
past
the
not
adults
post-war
could
of
had
inherited
Confrontation
because
burden
truth
the
they
the
with
the
guilt.
of
silence
and
hasbeenleft to them,as ChristabelBielenbergnotes:"The younghavea conscienceabout
10
is
it
feel
but
do
their parents not. For them
a still undigestedpast".
the Holocaust they
The authorsof these'Vdterbflcher'usedtheir writings as a meansof putting their fathers
fathers.
jury
became
judge
By
the
they
their
trial.
evidence
of
own
exposing
and
on
Furthermore,a form of punishmentis passedby publishingtheir fathers' mistakesin both

68
behaviour
known
them
to the world. Indirectly, they were also
and
making
and
attitude
hurt
in
for
having
to
the
themselves
to
need
punish
and
such a
order
pay
experiencing
father. Hence,a book suchas Niklas Frank'sDer Vater (1987)alsocarriesthe title Eine
Abrechnung:

()

und Dein Herz schlgt mir ins Gesicht, und ich ffne

meinen Mund, und ich beie hinein, in Dein Herz, und ich
spre Dich schreienund schreien, aber der Schrei ist dumpf,

dennDu bist ja nachinnengestlpt( ) ich bei zu, bis ein


...
Strom von Deinem Blut in meine Kehle schlappt, ich schlucke

Dich und letzteLgenflut, bis DeinePumpeschlaffwird und


Du im Zeugenstand, ein grlicher Fetzen Fleisch,
zusammensackst,
whrendich, ein ewig IdndlichesZombie,
11
immer
davonspringe.
davonspringe,
wohl
wieder

It hasbecomeevidentthat this generationfelt the needfor a reckoning. Now agedbetween


doing
forty,
fathers
these
their
were
at the sameage
authorsreflect on what
thirty and
during the Third Reich. They investigatetheir fathers'pastin an effort to comprehend,as
had
fathers
discover
they
the
thereby
to
their
extent
and
what
were
power
well as criticise,
believes
is
Brendler
task,
that
this
such
as one might
not
a
straightforward
guilt.
carrying
expect:

I havecometo ask myself whetherthe guilt of our parents'


isn't
finally much more encompassingthan we
generation

69
thought,with thosewho 'merely' did nothingonly fractionally
less guilty than those who were actively involved. But,
facing that, I also have to look at myself: if my father was
basicallya coward,and, in his attitudetowardsme, his least
assertive son, a bully, what am I?

What -I

say it

deliberately, as a German are my potentials under


"
pressure?

For the daughterscriticism of their fathers'political rolesis not so clearand definiteas


that of the sonsbecausethey tendnot to concentrateon the public figure but on the private
man. They dealwith emotions,which aredifficult to define,with thepersonalrelationship,
its
has
ups and downs. They needto understandthe father's lack of love for them
which
in order to continuewith their own future:

Crucial to the girl's developmentis whetheror not her father


was avaflableto her as a love-objectand whetheror not he
wascapableof offering his affectionwithoutbeingseducedby
her fantasies, or seducing her with his counter-oedipal
33

feelings.

This is very evidentin later relationshipswith men,as Brigitte Schwaigerhighlightsin her


choiceof lovers andas will be illustratedlater in this chapter:"In der HaBliebezum Vater
"
das
love,
Certainly,
Verhltnis
Mann".
sich
reflektiert
of
widersprchliche
emotions
zum

70
hatredand guilt do prevadetheseportrayalsby daughters,distinguishingthem from the
portrayalsby sons.
It is questionablewhetherany of thesedaughterswill ever be capableof finding peace
of mind and putting their fathers to rest for good becausethese works do have the
appearanceof being memorials to their fathers. The writing per se may only have been

temporarilytherapeutic.if thereis no attemptat self-analysis,then the mourningprocess


has not endedand progress is impossible. In the following analysis of Elisabeth Plessen's
Mitteilung an den Adel, Jutta Schutting's Der Vater and Brigitte Schwaiger's Lange

Abwesenheitwe shall need to recognisethe stage each daughterhas reachedin her


bereavement
and then seeif the writer hasmanagednot only to understandher father, but
also to analyseherself on paper. It may well be the casethat confusedemotionswill
hamperor distort analyticalthoughtprocesses
by somecritics that these
so that accusations
womenwriters merelywallow in depressionmayprovecorrect. We shallconsiderfirst the
daughter's portrayal of the family man, her relationship with him as well as the
bereavementprocess,before turning to the social and historical concernsvoiced in these
works.

Lack of demonstrativelove is an accusationfrequentlymadeby all thesechildren. The


father who held a position of authority, such as a lawyer, doctor or officer, displayed
similar authority within the home, that is, whenhe found the time to be at home:

Der Vater als verbissener, gequlter und qulender


Vorschriftenmensch,der die Gegenwart seines Kindes
mibrauchte,um sich selbstins Rechtzu setzen;der Vater als
bermchtige,

strafende,

einschchternd-lhmende

71
Autorittsperson,an dem die Liebes- und ZrtlichkeitsbedrfnissedesKindesabprallenmuten?'

In the eyesof their childrenmostof thesefathersfailed in their paternalrole becausethey


busy
too
elsewhereto takean interestin the problemsof their son/daughter:
were

Wann httest du dir Zeit genommen, mit mir zu reden? Als

ich begriff, dadu sterbenwrdest,nahmich esdir bel, da


du einfach fortgingst, ohne jemals fr mich vorhanden
gewesen zu sein.

(L. A. 8)36

For Schutting'snarratorthe fatherwasalwaysabsentfrom the home,out on hunting-trips


or enjoyinghimselfin thepub. He showedno interestin his children,neverwent on walks
for
breakfast.
join
He
did
to
the
them
them
them,
nevergave
not
or
church
with
and
with
his own children any affection, insteadhe boughttheir admissionof 'love' for him with
chocolates,orangesand money:

()

weshalber auchfr die widerwillige Bejahungseineroft

dich
du
deinen
Vater
Frage:
Iiebst
mehr
als
wiederkehrenden
Schilling
dir
istV'
Recht
ein paar
selbst,weil er zu
so gut
mit
Bestechungzahlt. (V. 73)11

Schutting's"Unvater" (V. 93) alsoappearsin Schwaiger'swork where monetaryvalue is


similarly placedon love:

72
Diese Tante ist vielleicht schuld daran, da Vater unsere
Ksseabwies,weil er wute, da dieseeine Tante sich als
Kind auf dem Scho ihres Vaters setzte, um ihm unter
Liebkosungendie Geldtascheherauszuziehen. (L. A. 84)

The needto unmaskthe personbehindthe father-figureonly arisesas a result of the


honest
being
his
in
first
the
with
not
child
place. In this way misunderstanding
parent
from
suspicionandmistruston thepart of the son/daughter.Lack of communication
arises
thus createsanotherbarrier in this relationship:

Was ist das, wenn zwei sich kennen(und nicht kennen)wie


Vater und Tochter, und sie gehennebeneinander
her, jeder
wartet, da der andereetwas sagt, und am Ende habensie
herausbekommen,
nichts
als da es Punkte gibt, zwischen
denendie Geradeden weitestenUmwegbeschreibt?
(M. A. 155)38

There is the suggestionin all the 'Vdteffomane'that thesesonsand daughtersexperienced


deceptionand/or disappointment
of someIdnd in their fathers,after havingreviewedtheir
having
fathers,
before
their
their
and
relived
relationship
with
committing
own upbringing
the realisationto paper for everyoneto read. However, the actual attempt at passing
judgementon the relationshipbetweenfather and son, father and daughter,doesseemto
itself.
is
during
That
the
writing
process
not to say that the author reachesa
occur
definitive conclusionby the end of the book. Certainly there is always a fluctuationof

73
his/her
feelings
facts
towards
and
negativeand positive thoughtsas the author assesses
father. Whilst they do acquirea new and better understandingof their fathers,they all
leave their novels open-ended:the suggestionbeing that the thought processis never
completed.
The works by Plessen,Schwaigerand Schuttingdisplayan intensepreoccupationwith
the deadfatherwhich maybe regardedasindicativeof thepsychologicalmourningprocess
by
departure
is
loss
bereavement
loss.
The
to
to
a
represented
and adaptation
reaction
of
from the bereaved'susual stateof thought, feeling and behaviour. The death of the father
father:
her
in
by
daughter
towards
generally speaking, an
the
results a change of attitude
initially negative portrayal of the father accompaniedat the outset by feelings of dislike,
into
father's
her
deeper
delves
daughter
hostility and hatred becomesmore positive as the
its
At
extreme
most
their
her
relationship.
past, ruminates over
upbringing and examines
love
as
yearning
as
well
daughter's
by
of
is
illustrated
the
admission
this positive portrayal
for her father. Other indications of an improved attitude include understanding,sympathy,
The
between
and
child.
lack
parent
the
communication
of
and
about
regret
appreciation
feelings
hostile
towards
daughter's
itself
the
originally
to
appears assuage
writing process
improved
formation
The
his
death.
of an
her father and facilitates facing the reality of
On
the
due
one
be
is
dead,
reasons.
he
to
of
father,
her
number
a
may
once
opinion of
deceased
idealise
the
bereaved
and recall
to
is
hand, it a common reaction of those recently
belief
speak
that
not
should
the
one
thus
that
things
with
person,
complying
about
only good
ill of the dead. On the other hand, by reviewing the real memories and working through
is
allows
which
the
reached
the positive as well as
negativeaspects,a clearer understanding
for the daughter's forgiveness of her father's wrongdoings.

74
Ironically, whilst thesedaughtersconcentrateon the faults of their fathers,their own
imperfectionscometo the surface. Schirndinghighlightsthe guilt which theseauthorsof
fathersin literary form:
'Viteffomane' incur whenjudging their deceased

Es geht um die Schuld des Vaters, aber macheich mich,


indemich seinerSchuldmit literarischenMitteln auf die Spur

kommen
des
Vergehens
trachte,
schuldig?
zu
nicht
gleichen

As mentionedearlier in this chapter,theseauthorsassumethe task of judge andjury long


defend
himself.
has
is
been
In
their
to
the
the
crime
unable
committed
and
accused
after
introspective
is
fathers
too
their
their
andcomestoo
accounts
criticism of
autobiographical
late. In the threebooksconsideredhere eachwriter is highly critical of her father. She
is
him
being
devoid
she
capableof
of
accuses
of compassionand comprehension,yet
by
insensitivity.
Vater
In
Der
the
that
the
narrator
remarks
same
callousness
showing
and
drunk who shouted
the ageof four shealreadyunderstoodwhat shesaw: the bad-tempered
broke
door
brutal
in
home
the
the
the
night
and
Power; who came
middle of
and exerted
daughter's
in
furniture;
his
front
the
threatened
the
and
sold
children
of
who
and
wife
favouritehorseto be slaughtered.Thus the narratorblamesher father for turning her into
her
instability
her
She
the
too
as
with
other
men
sees
soon.
also
of
relationships
an adult
father's fault:

begreifen,
habe
ich
hchstens
Jahren,
also
ohne zu
mit
vier
schonalles begriffen, und so ist er daranschuldgda meine
erstenLieben raschendendeLieben gewesensind. (V. 140)

75
Clearly this daughterfelt insecurein any love-relationshipwith a man becauseshe had
his
had
badly
her
father,
he
treated
the
the
wife and
ever-changing
moods
of
way
witnessed
children.
On thebasisof the father'sinability or unwillingnessto showhis daughterany affection,
the narrator of Lange Abwesenheitexperiencesproblems in her relationship with her lover,

Birer, a fifty-six-year-oldJew. Her choiceof lover alreadyindicatesa replacementfor her


father; the narrator even refers to his paternal embrace. In fact, her affair with Birer

her
love-relationship
be
for
to
than
tabooed
the
with
nothing
other
a
substitute
proves
father, as will be explainedlater in this chapter. For now it shouldbe notedthat whenever
this daughterwasin thepresenceof Birer her father'sviewsaboutJewsconstantlyoccupied
her mind and in her heart shecould not tear herselfaway from his prejudices:

Er ist Jude. Judensoll man nicht trauen. Warum habeich


halten
Juden
Vater
zusammenund
meinem
nicht geglaubt?
bentzenuns. Der alte Jud verachtetmich, weil ich mit ihm
ins Bett gehe. (L. A. 28)

The daughter'sgrowing hatredfor her lover merely proveshow alike she and her father

were.
Eachwriter's criticism of her fathermay well result from her attemptto distanceherself
from the subject-matterand presentan objectiveportrayal of the father, yet the similar
daughter's
The
bring
father
daughter
together.
they
closer
share
characteristicswhich
and
Plessen's
her
do
in
In
teenage
themselves
years
own mistakes manifest
various ways.
ich:
father:
her
"Was
Augusta,
feelings
will
towards
wasalreadyunsureof her
protagonist,

76
ihm nahe sein oder den Bruch?" (M. A. 44). She accuseshim of being "der groBe
Unsichtbare,der Fremde"(M. A. 30), yet sheis the onewho movesawayfrom the family
home, first to study in Berlin, then to work in Munich. Although it is her father's
unrelentingauthority and eventualthreat to kill her and her friends which influenceher
decisionto leaveand stay'away,the daughterneverseesit as her duty to return homeand
makesamendswith her father. Sheis equallystubbornand hard on him, as he had been
to her. The daughterin Schutting'swork also choosesto move away from home and
becomesa strangerto her father: "Ich habemit demVater ( )jahrelang so gut wie nichts
...
ich
in
Wien lebe" (V. 62).
seit
geredet,
In contrastSchwaiger'snarrator,as alreadyindicated,is moreexactingin the way she
'o
'hurting'
her
father
their
to
terms
estrangement. On the one
setsabout
and coming
with
hand,shetries to form a link by choosinga lover of her father'sage, someonewho might
fill thegapandfulfil therole of her father,therebyovercomingthe distancebetweenfather
anddaughter. On the other hand,the choiceof a Jewishlover causesmoreanimosityand
createsgreaterdistancebetweenthe two of them. Schwaiger'schoiceof title for the work,
"LangeAbwesenheit",encapsulates
the rift betweendaughterand father: in their thoughts
death
have
been
the
parent
and opinions
and child
of the father his
always
apart; with
absencefrom the daughter'slife is physical and permanent. The narrator now has to
of death.
overcomethe estrangement
In her stateof bereavementthe daughteris acutelyawareof her own failings, the love
which shenever showedher father, the feelingsof hatredwhich sheexpressed.Feelings

do
it
becomes
be
Thus
to
the
of guilt prove
consequence
of an ambivalentrelationship.
evidentin theseworks that hateis an emotionnever far from love, and it is a deathin the
family which bringsaboutthis recognition. The narratorof Der Vaterregretsthat shewas

77
not loving towardsher father. Shecriticiseshim for lack of affection, yet sheadmitsto
beingpartly to blame. The weekprior to his deathshehad forgottenhis birthday Oustas
birthdays)andshehadnot beenpresentat his deathOustasher father
he neverremembered
had not beentherewhenhis fatherdied). Sheis certain,too, that her fatherhadnot heard
her farewell at the end of her last visit. Thus a senseof guilt on the part of the daughter

doespervadethe narrative:

vielesvon dem, wasich demVater zuliebetun knnenhtte,


habeich unterlassen,obwohl ich wute,damir das einmal
leid tun wird; manchesvon dem,wasich, mit demGedanken
an seinenTod mich drohend,ihm zuliebegetanhabe,hat sich
mir schondamalsals viel zu wenig zu erkennengegeben.
(V. 40-41)

Towardsthe end of Augusta'sjourney thereis a note of regret that their relationshiphad


imaginary,
better;
have
liked
father,
C.
A.,
her
been
her
have
told
to
she
about
would
not
ideal father: onewhom shecould touchandembrace,with whom shecould play andfight,
implication
is,
displayed
feelings
behaved
The
father
naturally.
of
who
spontaneous
and
a
in
daughter
father
The
her
had
done
things.
these
that
any of
never allowed or
course,
Schwaiger'swork saysvirtually the sameof her father but her words ring true of her
father's expectations.In retrospectsheis now able to understandthat it was her father's
training in the army which had madehim so authoritarianat home:

78
Ein Vater, ein richtiger Vater, ist einer, den man nicht
umarmendarf, den man nicht unterbrechendarf, wenn er
spricht, dem man antworten mu, auch wenn er zum
fnftenmal dasselbefragt und es aussieht, als frage er zum
fnftenmal, um sich zu vergewissern, ob die Tchter auch

willig sind, stetszu antworten,ein Vater, der einemdasWort


abschneidendarf. (L. A. 19)11

Due to grief, positiveandnegativeaspectsof a relationshipbecomeexaggerated,hence


theseaspectsare gone over and over in the mind. If the relationshipwas particularly
in
first
bereaved
is
likely
disagreements,
the
the
the
to
place,
concentrate
on
ambivalent
disappointments.
in
There
having
be
thought
the
and
may
of
even
someway
quarrels
death.
In
Mitteilung
den
is
by
her
Augusta
Adel
the
an
actually
accused
sisterof
caused
havingbroughtabouttheir father'sdeath,presumablybecauseshehad upsethim so much
is
initial
She
his
her
death for a
to
to
the
nature.
rebellious
unable
news
of
react
with
Firstly,
forces
her
herself
(and the reader)
the
to
to
reasons.
accusation
of
admit
number
that she had often wished for her father to die so that she could be free from all the
his
he
But
death
because
did
embodied.
actual
shehad imagined
not seemreal
constraints
his deathso often. Secondly,her fatherhadhimself spokenabouthis deathyear after year
hence
die,
is
did
disbelief
the
unexpected
newsclearly causes
and shockwhich
and never
blaming
by
her
her
for
his
death.
daughter
finds
it
Thus
this
sister
necessary
aggravated
to clear herself of this charge,yet at the sametime the feeling that she has her father's
deathon her conscienceconstantlyhauntsher. Correspondingly,the writer hasthe details
her
life
his
mind.
on
of

79
Otherguilt feelingsarisebecausethe daughterwas not presentwhen the father died.
by Schutting,whosenarratoris painfully awarethat her difficulty in
This is emPhasised
is
father's
death
further
her
her
by
having
the
complicated
not
seen
corpse
of
accepting
father. There is the suggestionthat, if she had seenit, she would have felt some kind of

insecure
feels
is
in
instead
As
Plessen's
the
she
and
case
unsure.
novel, this
relief,
daughteris informedof her father's suddendeathfrom a heartattackby her motherover
the telephone. Disbelief is her immediate reaction, partly becausein her thoughts he had

before
last
last
him.
died
Recollections
their
months
when
she
saw
of
encounter
six
already
his
follow
death.
Absence
their
the
news
of
past,
precarious
of
relationship
andan analysis
from the death,not beingableto seethe corpse,as well as the recognitionof havingfailed
by
love,
to
the
the
these
of
guilt
experienced
aspects
contribute
sense
all
to express
daughter. In her book 77ieCourageto GrieveJudy Tatelbaumsuggeststhat

feelings
invariably
the
consequent
self-reproachare
guilt and
that we mustconfront. We are so susceptibleto guilt after a
loss that we can turn any thought, feeling, experience, or

feel
to
guilt mildly. Guilt may
memory guilt, and others
"'
deny
death.
the
to
reality of
serve

Certainly these writers do have a fixation about their deceasedfathers. In both


Schutting'sandPlessen'sworks the deathof the fatheris suddenandunanticipated.Unlike
Schwaiger'snarrator, who visits her father in hospital and awaits his death, thesetwo
daughtersdo not haveany Opportunityto prepareand cometo terms with the closenessof
deathand the possibility of permanentloss. 'They haveto learn to copewith grief during

80
journey
from
four
Augusta's
lasts
Munich
Schleswig-Holstein
time.
to
car
of
space
a short
days. The drive from the southto the north of West Germanyis sufficientlylong for the
imagination
havoc.
inability,
however,
Her
to
the
to
to
actually
and
play
unfold
memories
face the reality of the death of her father is evident from her last minute decision not to

43
has
her
destination.
in
Vater
funeral
Der
though
the
the
she
narrator
even
reached
attend
father's
death
her
his
during
days
between
her
the
three
and
and
reflections
actions
records
funeral. In fact she sendsout the mourning cards, advisesher family on how to formulate
for
in
helps
for
the
the
the
suggestions
notice
newspaper
and
with
obituary
the words

her
The
the
to
She
mother
undertakers.
a
and
accompanies
wreath
alsoorganises
eulogy.
funeral
bring
intellectual
for
the
the
awareness
of
reality and
about
a
gradual
arrangements
finality of the death,but it is only when she seesher father's nameprinted in black and
daughter
is
his
death,
that
the
in
eventually
the
publicly
announces
newspaperwhich
white
believes
funeral
died.
during
has
And
he
that
the
service
she
still
that
yet
even
convinced
father
being
During
hope
do
bells
the
the
there
alive.
long
the
a
of
ring,
remains
not
as
as
is
has
dreams
father,
her
the
the
such
magnitude
of
about
consistently
two
she
years
next
importance
dreams
during
Tatelbaum
the
the
of
explains
mourning
undergoes.
trauma she

fo
in
the
owing way:
period

Dreamsare a major meansof re-experiencingand working


through emotionally chargedexperiencesand of problem(
)
done
in
After
Much
sleep.
grief
work
gets
our
solving.
...
it
is
dies,
dream
loved
to
about that
quite
natural
one
a
if
died
they
as
never
at
often
person,

44
all.

81
Clearly this daughterfinds it difficult to handle the emotional experienceof bereavement.
Her period of mourning, which can be described as a time of convalescence,lasted two
years.

In the postscript the narrator illustrates her psychological acceptance of the

her
father
her
him
her
loss
as
own mixed
as well
and
understandingof
of
permanent
her
father
has
been
her
to
the
In
to
of
memories
able
put
she
only
now
mind
emotions.
from
have
for
to
to
thus
a
The
time
months
weeks
as
seen,
can
vary
grieving,
we
rest.
period of years.
As mentionedbefore, Schwaiger's narrator anticipatesher father's death. She has the
him
because
death
for
his
both
to
she
watches
mentally and emotionally
opportunity prepare
his
death,
is
in
hospital.
Whilst
from
the
moment
of
at
she not present
dying slowly
cancer
is
immediate
few
later.
Her
to
and
is
touch
the
cry
reaction
to
corpse
a
minutes
able
she
father
brings
body.
kissing
his
lifeless
Death
the
very close
laugh simultaneously, whilst
in
freely
her
is
in
her
life
first
For
to
time
daughter.
emotions
the
she able express
to his

being
kiss
him
father,
her
or
to
pushed
away
without
embrace
and
of
the proximity
believingthat shewaswrong in doing so. Henceher words are onesof gratitude:sheno
for
death
father.
from
her
Here
for
has
an
allows
to wait
longer
a sign of affection
frustrations
daughter's
a
sense
of
since
the
provides
relief,
and
pent-up
all
of
outpouring
father
her
be
laid
for
hate
felt
love
to
between
could
rest.
she
and
which
tug
emotion
of
the
does
The
in
funeral
involved
the
is
the
attend
service.
daughter
and
arrangements
also
This
fact
be
denied.
However,
the
death
longer
the
that
very
the
can
no
reality of
affirmationof
if
him,
father's
her
daughter
talking
to
as
the
graveside,
standing
at
with
opens
narrative
inability
free:
break
her
to
to
he were alive, points

82
Aber sein Sterbenwar die letzte Falle in die ich hineingeriet

in
ich
immer
der
noch
und
stecke. Weil mein Vater
unsterblich ist. (L. A. 20)15

LangeAbwesenheitcan be regardedas an attemptby the writer to illustrate through the


death
her
I-narrator
the
to
the
the
extent
and
which
estrangement
of
pain of
of
words
indicated,
it
is
in
has
her.
death
As
that
affected
already
a
paradox
separation
permanent
is
in
daughter
text
the
actually closest to her father. The narrative begins and ends in
the

ihe
daughter
holds
father.
burial
her
Evidently
the
conversations
the cemeterywhere
with
does
halt
influence.
be
his
later
It
father
to
her
that this
not/cannot
put
a
shown
will
of
inability of the daughterfigure to acceptthe deathof her father may be an explanationfor
the
to
past.
the
such
memories
and
relives
continues
recount
writer
why
Whilst the daughterin eachbook expressesher anguishin various ways, there is
during
indicated
bereavement;
for
by
her
behaviour
as
emotions
common
evidenceof
bereaved
help
Crying
does
to
the
their
to
tears
express
and
relieve
pain.
seem
example,
46
function
bring
important
Schutting's
a
sense
of
cathartic
and
can
relief
an
serve as
.
first
bumps
into
into
leaves
house
bursts
the
time
tears
the
and
she
a relative.
narrator
Thereaftershecarriestissuesaroundwith her for their preventiveeffect, "prophylaktische
Wirkung" (V. 35). During the funeral servicesheis determinednot to sheda tear. She
finds a way of haltingthe tearsby concentratingon the movementof her eyelids. Shealso
lets her mind wander, as if to escapethe reality of the eventstaking place. In Lange
is
the
Abwesenheit narrator conscious'ofnot being able to cry. The suggestionis that, as
long as shedoesnot cry, her grief will remainlocked inside. Her emotionalresponseto

83
loss is one of confusion. As in the states of bereavementof the other daughters, the

complexityof painful effectsincludessadness,angerand helplessness:

Der gute Arzt. Ich trage dich in meiner Handtascheherum.


So ein Vater, den man auseinanderfaltenund herzeigenkann.

Ich bin enttuscht,wennich dich herzeigeund die Leute, die


dich nicht gekannt haben, schweigen. Ich mchte, da sie

dich bewundern,wie du es verdienst. Ich mchte,da die,


die dich gekanntund verehrt haben,dich hassen,wie du es
verdienst. Ich mchte weinen knnen um dich. Wenn ich

dich hergezeigthabe,falte ich dich zusammen


und steckedich
wieder ein. Es hilft mir niemand,dich zu betrauern.
(L. A. 10)

Anger in the form of harshcriticism of the fatherappearsto be anotherresponseto loss


andalsoa methodof copingwith grief in theseparticularworks. The narratorcandisguise
her pain behindher criticism., In their thoughtsthedaughtersof Mittellung an denAdel and
LangeAbwesenheltcontinueto fight their respectivefathersbecausethey admit a certain
dependence
on him andare annoyedby this weakness.Yet the battle doesseemnecessary
for their personaldevelopmentso that they may recogniseand understandtheir own
identity. Augustaloses a sparring partner. She reflects on the lack of understanding
betweenher and her fatherand usesthe patheticimageof two stagslockedin eachother's
horns, fighting until death, neither a winner nor loser. Daughterand father had found
themselveslockedin an unendingconflict, not physically, but verbally andemotionally,a

84
from
death
believes
her
father's
Schwaiger's
that
resulted
narrator
conflict of opinions.
"' Misunderstanding
"GottesGerechtigkeit"(L. A. 50), a punishmentfor his arrogance.
and
love.
One
denial
hatred
lack
momentthe
of
and
grew
out
of
of
communication
eventual
daughter is annoyedwith her father for dying without ever having made time for her, the
by
is
is
him
for
his
death.
Such
the
thanldng
the
experienced
of
emotions
paradox
she
next

bereaveddaughter. Certainly anger is a commonresponseduring the mourningperiod


because of the feeling that disagreementshave been left unresolved and that time for
is
bereaved
is
longer
The
therefore
angry with
available and
not Possible.
reconciliation no

for havingdeparted.
the deceased
There is evidencein these literary works which suggeststhat the daughter-father
father
his
is
the
to
that
the
whereby
uses
relationship,
of
pupil-teacher
relationship aldn
dominantpositionin the family to educatethe daughterto servehis needs. In Mitteilung
father's
feet
her
instance,
for
den
Augusta
Adel,
table
the
at
andtickles
sitsunder
young
an
his
fuzz
her
he
his
to
the
On
gently
scratch
on
them at
request.
other occasions orders
her.
from
he
Thus,
did
but
his
If
this
to
touch
praised
an early
well,
skin. she
not
nape,
her
father
her
between
learnt
Augusta
to
and
with obedienceand
associateanycloseness
age
"
be
be
A.
did
C.
If
told,
pleased
and
all
well.
would
would
she
as she was
submission.
The closenessof the relationshipwas, therefore,basedon the father's terms: by being
die
lernte
Worte.
Sie
lernte
die
daughter
her
love:
"Sie
the
verlangten,
proved
obedient
father
it
her
76).
(M.
A.
In
Schwaiger's
Lfigen"
that
the
notes
was
narrator
work
richtigen
it
involved
learning
if
behind
driving-force
her
to push a
the
education,even
who was
wheelchair:

85
Er hat immer gewollt, da ich alles lerne, was man knnen

mu. Autofahren,reiten. Einen Rollwagenschieben. Er


sitzt da drin, damit ich wiederetwasNeueslerne. (L. A. 71)

This again would be on the father's terms because he would be the person in the

wheelchair,giving his daughterinstructions. In sucha situation,however,it would be


difficult to establish whether the daughter was still dependenton the father or vice versa

and thus throwsa somewhatdifferent light on the relationship,signallingvulnerability in


the father. It is an aspectwhich will needto be examinedin more detail later in this
chapter.
The bond betweendaughterand father is clearly many-facettedbut the predominant
concernof all three booksis to show the extent of a father's control over a complying
daughter. The narratorin LangeAbwesenheitrecallsthat asa child her very existencewas
determinedby her father:

Ich hre Vaters Stimme. Er ruft meine Vornamen. Er will

etwasvon mir. Weit weg ist er, in einemanderenZimmer.


Und will etwasvon mir, daherlebeich. Er schimpftmit mir,
daher gibt es mich. Er geht vorbei an mir, ohne etwas zu
berflssig
bin ich. Mich sollte es nicht geben.
sagen.
42

(L. A. 20-21)

It is hardly surprising,then,that the daughteris unableto acceptthe father'sdeathbecause


part of her being would also vanish, when he died. This notion of the father's absolute

86
in
is
by
if
highlighted
father's
his
IdIl
daughter,
Plessen's
the
threat
to
novel
she
control

doesnot obeyhis commands.Eventhoughthe threatmay soundextremeand far-fetched,


thedaughtertakesit seriously,asis illustratedby her decisionto leavethe family-homefor
it
his
father
Furthermore,
believes
he
has
that
the
the
to
that
shows
end
right
good.

daughter'slife, if he so desires:such is his power. It is, therefore,ironical that the


daughteris 'accused'of havingkilled her father. The constantinfluenceof the father in
his daughter's life is, however, undeniable, as more recent studies of the relationship
readily acknowledge:

From her very earliest days, a girl's attitudesand expectations

being
shapedby her father. Becauseof the powerful
are
in
he
in
in
holds
family,
her
heart,
the world, he,
the
position
more than anyone,is subtly conveyingto her knowledgeof
"
be.
who shewill

The 'subtleness'of the father'simpartingof knowledgeis questionable,particularlyin the


but
he
here,
definitely
development
identity.
does
her
the
portrayed
of
affect
relationships
In Schwaiger'sfirst autobiographical
novel, Me kommtdasSalzins Meer, the narratorused
to think of herselfas 'the doctor's daughter',so that whenshemovedaway from hometo
Vienna,whereno oneknewher father,sheexperienceda senseof lossof identity: "Ich war
50
iCh".
is
implication
in
daughter
Linked
to
the
this
the
that
some way
nicht mehr
in
'belonged'to her father,which alsoaccountsfor thepossessive
manner which Augusta's
father behavedtowardsher.

87
In contrast,Schuttingportraysa fatherwho was reluctantto passon knowledgeto his
indifferent
he
doing
In
was
merely
about
so.
comparisonto the overperhaps
or
children,
bearingfather, this uninterestedand inattentivefather is presentedin an equally negative
light becausesuch apparent unconcern causessuspicion and mistrust on the part of the

daughter:

solange ich in seinem Haus gelebt habe, ist mir der Vater,
und nicht nur als Vater, 'verdchtig' gewesen,und nichts von

hat
der
dem,
Verdchtigungen
an
all
was meine
widerlegte,
Einschtzungdes Vaters etwas gendert. (V. 53)

For the narratorit is alreadyunforgiveablethat her father was out huntingon the day she
his
box
he
his
days
later.
In
born
that
of memorabiliashe
only
visited
wife
and
was
discoversa card which he had sentto his parentstelling them in the first instanceof the
his
daughter.
IdIled
birth
To the narrator,
had
he
then
the
announcing
of
and
two stags

father
her
her
dissatisfaction
his
life
with
the
of
were
self-evident;
priorities
way
of
then,
is apparentthroughoutthe narrative,yet shecannotaccusehim of demandingobedience,
it
is
indicated,
And
learning
being
the
cruel.
as
and
previously
process
of
violent
only of
forces
daughter
father's
her
to grow up very quickly:
this
streak
which
violent
to recognise

in seinerKcheseineZigarettenrauchend,betrachteich fast
so schonungsvoll
wie als Kind die zwei PersonendesVatersder eine, der Alletagevater,war zwar andersals die uns

88
bekanntenVter (uninteressiert
an uns selberund nochmehr
an dem, was unsbeschftige)(... ) (V. 86)

dann
aber
gab es auch noch den anderen Vater, den

SchwarzerTagder zwareinTeil
undAusnahmezustandsvater,
des einen war und manchmalauch in diesemzu erkennen
blieb (

...

) (V. 89)

Whilst eachwriter portraysthe fatherin a critical light on accountof the way in which
he treatshis children,thedaughterdoesactivelyseekher father'spraiseandapproval,since
it
does
her
father's
but
is
of
again
this one way gaining
once
reveal that this
attention,
be
is
forthcoming:
has
it
to
earned,
otherwise
not
attention

Waren AugustasLeistungenbescheinigtworden, so war er


stolz. Er liebte seinenStolz und fragte nicht weiter (zum
Beispiel, wie Augusta lebe). Er nahm nicht teil, oder nur

obenhin. Er machte mit Augusta keine Ausnahme. Er


telefoniertenicht. Er beantwortetekeineBriefe. (M. A. 165)

Each daughterdoesdisclosea desirefor her father to be proud of her, thereby making


father
he
interpretation
impression
her.
Erich
Fromm's
the
that
on
so
of
notices
some
fatherly love doesring true here.51 Facedwith a father who is indifferent towardsher,
Schutting'snarratorvoicesher doubtsand lack of confidence:"Und dannfrage ich mich,
jemals
Vater
31).
feelings
der
ist"
(V.
These
auf
wirklich
mich
of
stolz
gewesen
ob

89
insecuritycontinuefor two yearsafter his deathuntil she is invited by the abbot of her
father's former schoolto give areading on the anniversaryof his graduation. Only then
is shecertainthat her fatherwould havebeenproud of her, just as the occasionhighlights
her pride in her father and the fact that she has reachedan understandingof him. Time,
then, is the healer in this relationship. After the death of her father, the daughter in Lange

Abwesenheitnotesthat sheno longer has to makeany effort to impressher father which


it
if
fact
him,
had
how
learnt
to
the
that
too,
to
meant wearing a
even
points
she,
please

dressto catchhis attention.


All three daughtershold on to the lost relationshipby acknowledgingsimilarities
habits
betweenthemselves
fathers.
Schutting's
the
that
their
many
which
and
narratornotes
shehad acquiredfrom her father includeleaving wet towels next to the bath; cutting off
half a slice of breadfrom a loaf-,openinga packetof butter only at the comer. Shehad
'inherited' lips which weresensitiveto the sIdnof a peach;the samefacial expressionwhen
the sun shonein her face; the samehandwriting. Shecould alsocomparehis passionfor
huntingwith her desirefor writing. Augusta,too, could not deny her resemblenceto her
father:

Hinzu kam, da Augusta dasselbeGesicht hatte wie er,


dieselbengroenAugen, dieselbengroenOhren, denselben
groBenMund. (M. A. 103)

Like her father shepreferredto be alone;both showedthe samestubbornness


and refused
to make compromises. In Lange Abwesenheltthe daughterhas absorbedher father's

90
obsessionfor economising. During hospital visits her father encouragesher to eat more

food:
food,
being
does
his
he
the
the
that
to
the
suggestion
not want waste expenseof
of

Mu ja alles bezahlt werden, auch wenn es fr den, der


bezahlt, tdlich ausgeht.

So genau, wie Vater immer

gerechnethat, rechneich jetzt aus, daich Essengeldspare,


ich
Vater jeden Tag besuche. (L. A. 54-55)
wenn

Thesedaughter-father
portrayalsthus serveto underlinethe closenessof the relationship.
Any attempt by the writer to distanceherself from her father is bound to fail becausetraits

likely
have
his
behaviour,
to
repeatedthemselves
character,attitude,
are
of
evenappearance
in his daughter.
As has beenshown,bereavementdoesinvolve a high level of psychologicalarousal.
All threebooksemphasisethe powerful influenceof the father in his daughter'slife, even
him.
he
has
died,
Beforethe narrativebegins
dependence
daughter's
the
on
as well as
after
in LangeAbwesenheitthereis an appropriateand significantepigraph:

Die Stime meinesVaters, ein Eisfeld, auf dem eine winzige


Figur luft. Das bin ich und laufe und laufe, aber der Kopf
dreht sich. So kommeich nicht voran. (L. A. 5)

In this motto lack of emotionsis symbolisedby the "Eisfeld" of the father's forehead,his
he
daughter
her
father
The
herself
figure
superior,
remains
mind.
sees
as a very small
is foremostin her mind. Her attemptsto makea breakand moveforward, away from his

91
influence, are unsuccessful. She goesround and round: her thoughtsare of him; her
father
in
be
her
Her
are
will
always
alive
mind. Ultimately, the
recollections repetitive.
booksthemselvesare testimonyto the fact that in the thoughtsof the writer her father is
"unsterblich" (L. A. 20). Each author depictsa daughterwho, like herself, facesdifficulties
in coming to terms with the death of her father: "Jetzt bist du tot, aber es erleichtert mich

fully
119).
(M.
A.
do
Emotionally
these
not
accept the loss
nicht"
writers/daughters
becausethey are unable to undo the bonds that built the relationship, as Schwaiger explains
in the words of her narrator/daughter:

Er ist tot, aber ich kmpfe gegen ihn, noch immer. Er hat

kann
ist
Stimmen,
Beine,
Arme
und
unsichtbar
viele
und
viele
mir jederzeitund berallauflauern. (L. A. 88)
I

The notion of the father being immortal suggestsreligious connotationsof the all
is
father
father
Lange
In
Abwesenheit
being
likened
Father.
the
to
the
almighty
powerful
idolised, evenworshippedby his family, friendsandpatients. Certainly the narratordoes
draw a tentativecomparisonbetweenher father and Christ, who healedthe woundedand
down
from
been
her
his
her
father
had
death
taken
the cross,
that
remark
after
sick, with
that he had been finally relieved from the pain of cancer and that it was "Gottes
Gerechdgkeit"(L. A. 50). Here it is possibleto seethe two sidesto his death: that in a
positivesensehe no longerhasto suffer any pain, but in a negativesense,as notedearlier,
deathis also a meansof just punishmentimposedby God who in the caseof Schwaiger's
52

father takeshis life as a form of retribution.

The daughteralso statesthat shebelieves

in the ressurection,hoping that her father might perform this miracle. - Similarly,

92
Schutting'snarrator perceivesthe possibility of her father rising again becausehe was
buried on the third day: "Werdenwir am dritten Tag begraben,weil Er am dritten Tag
has
been
described
ist?
116).
"
(V.
The
narrativeendssymbolicallywith what
auferstanden
"
"poetische
Erl6sungsvision".
as a

It is a metaphor for the main themes of all these

daughter-father portrayals, namely death, guilt and redemption, and parallels the

father:
for
her
in
daughter
feelings
depicted
by
the
conflict
of
each
ambivalence

am Morgen nach der Nacht unter dem Erste-Nchte-

Heimweh-Dach des Vaters gehe ich einmal noch die


Prunkstiegehinauf,- zu den all paar Stufen links und rechts der

Stiege aufgestelltenFliederschalenschauend,ist mir, als


des
Wunde
die
Blicken,
Fliederbuschen
welkten
untermeinen
Toten, die blutet, wenn ihr Verschulderan ihm vorbeigeht,
Schwalbe,
deine
lang
dann
Erlsung:
Tuschung
eine
und
eine
immer
begreifend
hat
und
ebennoch
sie sich, nicht und nicht
wilder denfalschenWeg versuchend,an denFensterscheiben
gestoen,steigt zu dem Deckenfreskoauf und verschwindet
in dem blauenHimmel der Gerechten. (V. 173)"

Ambivalencein the relationshipbetweendaughterandfatheralsoarisesfrom the sexual


identity
in
is
It
that
the
these
three
of the
accepted
undercurrentsevident
works.
generally
daughteris closely connectedto that of her mother, due partly to their naturalbondsand
the fact that the mother provides the role of femininity, nevertheless,"psychoanalytic
thoughtseemsunitedin its belief that fatheris the instrumentalforce in shapingdaughter's

93
identity as a feminineperson"." The father is a major factor in the daughter'ssex-role
development,which seemshardly surprisingwhenwe takeinto considerationthat he is the
first man the daughterhas ever loved. As we have seen,the loss of the father has a
profound effect on the daughter's self-image. When he dies a senseof rejection seems
inevitable. This is madeexplicit by Schwaiger's narrator who is aware of the difficulty of

her
father, evenafter his death:
and
satisfying
pleasing

Ich spre, es wre meine Pflicht, mich zu dir zu legen und

dich zu wrmen. Aber wrde ich es dir denndiesmalrecht


machen? Bald wre es dir zu eng, bald zu khl. Vater, wir

liegen so schlechtmiteinander. (L. A. 89)"

Beyondthe grave the daughterstill seeksa closerelationshipwith her father; the writer
innuendos
inclusion
in
him
is
It
to
this
these
of
sexual
show
wants
warmthand affection.
bookswhich doesdifferentiatethesefather-portrayalsfrom thoseof the sons. The above
quotationparaphrasesthe tabooedincestuousrelationship,where the father becomesthe
dead lover. As mentionedearlier in this chapter, the narrator in Lange Abwesenheit
respondsto the deathof her father by smotheringthe corpsewith kisses,able only on his
deathbedto showher love for him. Thereis the suggestion,too, that daughterandmother
vie for this man'sattention,the daughterregardingher relationshipwith her fatheras more
importantthanthatof husbandandwife. Of significanceis the fact that both womensuffer
under this maledominancebecausefor neitherof themlove is reciprocated:

94
Doch besondersdie Frauensindlebenslngliche
Opfer dieses
intimenMachtanspruchs
Erotik
geworden;dieunterschwellige
der KonfrontationzwischenVaterundSohntritt im Verhltnis
der Tochter zum Vater offen zutage: an der Liebe zum Vater
orientiert sich die Liebe zum Mann, sie schliet von

"
Verhalten
vornhereinein geschlechtliches
mit ein.

The affair the daughterin LangeAbwesenheithaswith Birer is clearly a substitutefor


the tabooedlove relationshipwith her father. Sheevenexpressesthe wish to strip off in
front of her father to show him that she is a woman and not just his daughter. She recalls

her father'sreactionto the white, lacedresssheoncewore: "einekleine Geliebte,wie eine


heimlicheGeliebte"(L. A. 9) andchoosesto wearthis dresswhenshevisits him in hospital.
Onceagainthe daughteris anxiousto pleaseher fatherbut this time thereis also the lure
are beginning
of sexualattraction. It is an areaof the relationshipwhich psychoanalysts
to study more closely:

The father-daughterrelationshipseemsto be fraught with


sexualtension,whetheror not it is ever actedupon. ()

If,

is
father
believe,
the determining
as most professionals
influenceon his daughter'sconfidencein her sexualappeal,
and if it is masculineapproval that introducesher to the
pleasureto be takenin her femininity, thenit is a precarious
balanceindeeduponwhich they both tread. ( ) Obviously,
...
and fortunately, father-daughterincest is not a common

95
occurrence.But thereit lurks, just beyondmanifestation,as
"
facet
the
a palpable
of
relationship.

In Mitteilung an den Adel alcohol influences the father's behaviour towards his daughter
and reveals a vulnerable side to his personality. In his drunken stupor he is neither in

control of his actionsnor his feelings,but he seeshis grown-updaughteras a woman:

Auf unsicheren Beinen verstellte er ihr den Weg, schttelte


den Kopf,

um die Doppelbilder vor

seinen Augen

loszuwerden, zog Augusta in seinenArm und kte sie. Ich

liebe dich, sagteer, aber- ich bin ein alter Mann. Er wandte
sich schroff ab, ( ... ) Er drehtesich nicht mehr um.
(M. A. 223)

When shewas a child, he usedto order her to kiss his closedeyelidsand would only let
her go, onceshe had obeyedhis wishes. There was no indicationof love betweenthem,
just a daughterhaving to submit to her father's will. The closestSchutting'snarrator
comesto demonstratinglove for her father is when as a child shepretendsto be a dog.
Shewould lick her father's neck andnibble at his ears,actingmerelyas a replacementfor
his
one of
young dogs. In return the fatherwould let her brush and comb his hair. Once
betweenfatheranddaughteris on the father'sconditionsanddependent
againany closeness
51
his
mood. It becomesoverwhelminglyapparentin all threeworks that spontaneityof
on
feelingsis non-existent.The fatheris a strangerwho continuesto be an indomitableforce,
idealised.
an
setting
standardand expectationswhich eachdaughterfinds difficult to fulfil.

96
The fact that he is unapproachableis highlighted by the daughter in Der Vater who felt

in
in
his
him
The
look
the
to
eye.
and
shy
alone
company
awkward
when
and unable
in
however,
does
to
the
possibility of sexualattraction,
allusion
re-emerge a dreamthe
narrator has at the start of her recollections in which she is wearing her father's pyjamas
is
he
wearing a nightdress. Here the daughter is in control of her father and tries to
and

force him to sexualsubmission:he is her toy to do with as shepleases. The sexualact


between daughter and father could not be more explicit:

"So komm nurl " wiederholeich leise, aber auch nicht zu


leise, dennwenn ich auchwieder ein Kind bin, streift mich
doch, als der Vater langsamauf mich zukommtund dann
zwischenmeinenBeinen stehenbleibt,die Peinlichkeit, mit
der ich zehn Jahre spterdie peinlichstenAugenblickeder
jetzt
habe
Erwachsenenabenteuer
was
wird
erlebt
ersten
ihn,
die
ich
frage
hrst
du
Vater?,
als
er
etwas
sein?
mich,
Augen ffnet; erkennstdu mich? als er, ganz ruhig gegen
ich,
du
das
bin
ich
bin
alles
es,
mich gedrckt,schweratmet,
9)
(V.
doch,
du
bitte,
sprstmich
ach
mutnur wollen!

In spite of the explicitnessof languagethe suggestionof a sexualrelationshipis never


further
in
in
fact,
Schwaiger,
this
evidenceof this
produces
narrative.
mentionedagain
forbidden relationshipin a poem about her father in which she refers to their 'oedipal
relationshiP'. Here her dreamsbring to life the influenceof this man:

97
Ich trumeoft von meinemVater.
Ich trumeoft von Wnden
die Schlafzimmerverengen.
Ich versuche mir vorzustellen, was
geschehenhtte knnen in Madrid,

wennich in der SanBemardoGasse


im Zimmer geblieben wre
und ihn angesehenhtte ohne Lcheln.

Wie er saim Pyjama,wie er mich


angesehenhtte

ernst,stumm.
Denn ich stellemir vor, ich htte
ihm die Zungeabgeschnitten.
Das Glied meinesVaters
hattenie so viel mit mir zu tun
wie seineZunge.
UnserdipalesVerhltnis
ging ber die Wrter.
Der Geist meinesVatersist schlechtgehegt.
Ich fhle mich verfault von
in
Abfall
mir,
so viel
der ausWnschenund Verwesungbesteht,
der durch so viele Filter gegangenist '
...

98
Evidence of such sexual innuendosin these literary works should not imply that love

betweendaughterand father is sexually-oriented. Theseare just three daughter-father


is
in
it
is
daughter
Lange
Abwesenhelt
the
who conscious
predominantly
relationshipsand
interpretation
level
father's
her
thus
a
man
and
provides another
of
of the
role as
of
daughter-fatherbond. Even the apparentlyinnocent holding of his hand is intended to show

the extentto which this daughterhad longedfor contactbetweenher and her father:

Ich halte seine Hand, lege mir seine Finger zurecht, die gute

Vaterhand, Finger um Finger, damit mein Gesicht


hineinschmiegenkann, so nah und so lange wie im ganzen

Lebenniemals. Ich vergewaltigeihn zu Zrtlichkeit.


(L. A. 78)

During the funeralservicesheholdsthe handof her father'sgrandsonto seeif shecanfind


had
had
her
father.
boy
from
In
the
this
with
special,
close
relationship
comfort
some
does
is
hands
Augusta
terrified of
comfort;
not
see
of
as
a
source
she
completecontrast
them:

Angst vor allen Hnden, als sie elf wurde: Sie fuhr
jemand
hob.
die
Hand
wenn
nur
zusammen,

Keine

Handbewegungen
sehenzu mssenund selber nicht mehr
sichtbar, nicht mehr vorhanden,unangreifbarzu sein, das
wre gut gewesen. (... ) Hnde streicheltennicht, Hnde
warennicht zrtlich. (M. A. 36)

99
Althoughit, is not madeexplicit, it doesseemthat Augustalearnsto associatehandswith
suffering, and that it was probably her father who smackedher, henceher desire for
revenge:

Unertrglich,

wenn C. A.

seine Hnde im

Gesprch

betrachtete,mit ihnen spielte. In Trumenzersgtesie ihm


den Hals. (M. A.

37)61

On his deathbedthe once"goldeneHdnde" (L. A. 21) of the doctor, who helpedothers


in their sicknessand performed a skilled service, becomered and swollen, thereby losing

their power. The tables are turned, it is now the father who is the patient receiving
treatment. It is the fatherwho is at the mercyof others. For the daughterthis realisation
is of particularsignificancebecausefor the first time sheseesan ordinarypersonwhomshe
can approach. Lying in hospitalthe oncerevereddoctor, who was put on a pedestalby
thosearoundhim, loseshis authority: in his weak statehis aggressiveness
and angerare,
assuaged. He is reduced to the figure of a little man. In fact, the narrator refers twice to

her father as 'Pinocchio'.11 The first referenceoccursat the worst stageof her father's
illness:

Ein holzgeschnitzterVater im Leinensack. Pinocchio, der


Obermiltige,hat nun seineStrafe. (L. A. 79)

And as a farewell addressimmediatelyfollowing his death:"Leb wohl, Pinocchio,sei gut


tot" (L. A. 81). A father sculptedout of wood points once more to his inability to

100

demonstratefeelings, or allow himself to be moved, or understandthe emotionsbeing


had
but
immediate
Pinocchio,
by
his
family.
The
no
conscience
woodenpuppet,
expressed
brave,
honest
he
had
do
he
become
boy.
In
to
that
to
to
was
prove
so
a real
order
wanted
father
being
her
On
the
selfish
of
a numberof occasions narratoraccuses
and unselfish.
in
form
being
father.
fact
the
The
Pinocchio
that
of
and of not
a real
punishment
received

his nosegrowing longer can be comparedto the large, swollenhandsof the father. The
daughterregardsthis as the ultimate form of punishmentfor her father becausehe is no
longerableto carry out his work. Furthermore,he becomescomparableto the puppeton
strings, since he cannot do anything without the help of medical staff. The daughter
her
father is not different from any other person:
that
recognises

Wir sind gewhnliche Menschen. Der, zu dem wir


der,
der
kleiner
haben,
als
war wir,
emporgeschaut
obwohler
ist
Gewhnlicher,
hoch
hat,
ein
stand,
unserhht
weil er sehr
die
in
Krankheit
trgt,
gewhnliche
sich
weil er eine
Menschenhaben. (L. A. 50)

It is death, however, which has the ultimate belittling effect, as Schutting'snarrator


remarks: "(

...

) und wunderemich wieder, wie klein ihn der Tod gemachthat." (V. 156).

In Plessen'snovel the daughteraccusesher father of being a "Grand Guignol" (M. A. 54)


"Great
Punch"
Pinocchio,
Like
his
her
friends.
kill
her
to
threat
and
when shereflectson
is a puppet,but here the nameis usedin a more pejorativesense,describingthe fatheras
daughter,
The
figure,
had
tendency
to
over-dramatise.
a grotesque
who
a
exaggerateand
his
is
longer
home
her
father's
has
left
under
thus, ridicules
and no
actions, after she

101

is
had
his
but
At
be
taken
threat
the
time
to
she
serious,
on reflection she able to
control.

dying
father's
dramatic
just
he
he
the
to
that
and never
was
as
say
stunt,
used
recognise
did. Whenhe doesdie, he, like Augusta,'leaves' the family-homefor good: therewill be
her
belief
hence
is
based
daughter's
decision
funeral
that
the
to
the
on
not attend
no return,
her
father
in
249).
footing:
(M.
A.
befinden
Auge"
"Wir
Auge
and
are
she
now on equal
uns

Deathhasbroughtthemface to face on equaltermsbecausethe father hasdonethe same


to his daughteras she did to him, that is, leave the family behind. He is no longer superior

or in control. Sinceher father cannotbe physicallypresent,shetoo choosesto be absent


from the funeral service. Her return to "Einhaus"could also havebeeninterpretedas a
have
her
funeral
been
father's
her
because
the
would
of
principles,
attending
renunciation
last demand. By not fulfilling the expectationof a dutiful daughtershealso avengesher
father's last actiontowardsher. It is noticeable,though,that thereis a tug of conscience
becauseshe has to run to the car and drive away quickly, the suggestionbeing that she
funeral,
in
has
is
her
decision.
the
It
too,
that
attending
she
not
not
possible,
might reverse
in
is
fact
father
dead,
her
the
that
aspointedout earlieron this chapter. Whatever
accepted
the case,it is clear that the daughterbelievesthat an understandingbetweenher and her
father hasbeenreached,althoughit is a sad fact that the realisationby the daughterthat
her father is not so different occursafter his death,whenit is too late for communication.
Paradoxically,deathremovesthe father from the world of which he was oncein control
andmakesthe daughtermorepowerfulbecausesheis still alive. The daughter/writergains
the courageand discoversthe freedomto approachher father in literary form, thereby
bridging the gapbetweenthemand forcing him to be part of her life, no longera stranger
immer
distance:
Vater
Mer
wieder einige
who occupiesa position of
wird aber auch
Atemzgelang um mich sein" (V. 81).

102
Due to the autobiographical nature of these father-daughter portrayals, the writing

for
be
form
therapy,
per
se
process
may regardedas a
of
a catharticexperience the writers
father
from
lives.
books
because
their
these
they
the
the
of
confront permanentabsenceof
Whether they will totally accept it, is another matter - hence the open-endednessof the
texts. Interestingly, the reader can never know from the text itself how long it took for the

writer-cum-daughterto reachthis stageof the mourningprocess. Indeed,the processof


recollection may be seen as a way of masIdng loss on a subconsciouslevel. The writer

lives in the past rather than the presentbecausethe memorieskeepher father alive. The
finishedliterary productshouldprovidethebereavedwriter with the final word on the death
her
have
helping
father,
interpreting
her
to
the
cometo terms
of
processof reflectionand
Sandra
loss.
On
level
the
therapeutic
the
appears
self
evident.
effect
with
a personal
Frieden suggeststhat texts, such as Mittellung an den Adel, also serve communal
therapeuticneedsbecausethey addresswider socialissues:

The openly autobiographical nature of these works


undoubtedlywas significantboth for their writing and their
discovery
The
both
the
the
of
searchand
reception.
pain of
sucha communallysharedhatredcould thusbe releasedand
mediated by the acknowledged commonality of the
"
experience.

Takenone stepfurther, the needfor therapypoints to the writer's needto analyseher


influenced
her
In
SchOnes
Wohmann
Gehege
Gabriele
(1975)
own self.
explainswhat
novel

103
her decisionto write abouther father. I suspectthat her explanationis indicativeof the
incentivebehindmanyof thesefatherportrayals:

Ich habe immer gedacht, DAS drfte ich auch noch eines
Tages zum Schreibstoff machen. Das: den Tod des Vaters

denBruder,die Fassungslosigkeiten
unddie Zusammenhnge,
und die Geftheitender Mutter, das alles. Ich habegedacht,
es wre gemein, prosaprofi-hundsgemein,es wre verletzend.

Eine schwereKrnkung. Jetztdenkeich das Gegenteil. Ich


tue dem Vater den grten Gefallen meines und seines
Lebens,ich tue das Wichtigsteund Beste,was ich tun kann
fr ihn. Ich werdeberdenTod desVatersschreiben.ber
"
doch
mich selbstalso
wieder.

In his analysisof Plessen'sMitteilung an denAdel JOrgenSerkesimilarly commentsthat


Mie Selbstfindungder Heldin vollzieht sich fast ausschlielichber den Abbau des
's
Vorbildes".
The samecanbe saidof Schwaiger'sand Schutting'snarratorsvdterlichen
in
it
finds
death
influential
figure
them
this
to
the
terms
to
of
each
necessary come
of
with
I
their lives, but can only do this once they haveunderstoodthe man behind the different
roles and analysedtheir relationshipwith him, otherwisethey will neverbe able to break
free from the shacklesof the past and appeasetheir conscience.The deathof the father
may, therefore,be regardedas crucial to the formationof the identitiesof thesedaughters,
as BeverleyRaphaelaptly points out:

104
Identity is one of the factorsmostpowerfully affectedby the
deathof someoneclose. ( ) The definitionof self may rely
...
stronglyon the other, so that when he is lost, the self must
find a new identitYwithout him."

As already indicated,psychoanalystsdo acknowledgethat the father is in many ways


involved with the development of his daughter's identity. All three works do prove the
significance of the relationship: when he is alive, the daughter is clearly affected by his
oppressivecontrol or complete indifference; when he dies, part of her being also seemsto

disappear.With hindsightthe adult daughterbelievesthat shehasbeendeprivedof love.


After the deathof her sixty-two-year-oldfather in 1978Schwaigerremarked:"Ich komm
'
hat
Krppel.
(
)
Vater
Mein
mir vor wie ein seelischer
mich
nie
geliebt".
...

Not only

doesthe daughterexperiencethe pain of permanentseperationbetweenherself and her


father, but she also has to acceptthat shecannotchangehow things were betweenthem.
Theseportrayalscould, thus, be seenas effort on the part of the daughterto put right a
wrong, to pay her father the attention she failed to give him when he was alive, to
acknowledgethat he played his part in shapingher identity. Hence,the writing process
servesto easeher own conscienceandhelpsher achievea form of liberation. In her book
My Father's House.A Memoir of Incestand Healing Sylvia Fraser makesthe following
commentwhich pinpointsthe therapeuticnatureof capturingmemorieson paper, making
senseof them, and experiencingthe freedomof self-expression:

As I write, the world inside my headbecomesmorereal than


the physical world; feelings more real than facts; thoughts

105
morereal thanspokenwords;my unconscious
mind morereal
thanmy consciousmind; thevisionaryworld of dreamsmore
real than the walcingworld. Now, as I let go of the habits
and rituals that anchor me to the here-and-nowto explore the
lost landscapeof my childhood, I feel as if I've jumped off a

cliff and am flapping my arms trying to learn to fly before


61

crashing.

Up till now we have concentratedon the personalbond betweenfather and daughter


becauseit doesdominateeachnarrative. Yet, whilst thesewomen writers do show a
tendencyto depict their fathers in the privacy of their homes, they also recognisehis
failuresin the public realm. It is here,too, that the specific'Germanness'of thesewritings
fore.
the
to
comes
If we consider, for instance,Plessen'snovel, we learn that the daughtertravels to
Schleswig-Holstein,to her family home, "Einhaus," where the father managedan estate
family.
"Mitteilung
down
den
The
Adel"
title
through
the
the
generations
of
an
passed
in
Augusta
the
to
the
of
and
aristocratic
upbringing
writer,
of
who grew up
alreadypoints
SchloBSierhagenin Schleswig-Holstein,and whose full title is, in fact, Dr. Elizabeth
"I The title of the novel suggestsboth public and
CharlotteMargueriteGrdfin von Plessen.
by
her
her
disapproval
By
the
communicates
author.
means
of
she
novel
personalcriticism
is
in
its
but,
the
conservatism,
particular, she
aristocracyas a whole on accountof
of
had
father
landed
her
typified
the
who
gentry, patriarchyand eighteenthcentury
of
critical
feudalism:

106
Adel ist nicht nur ein Klassenbegriff. Adel deckt vieles

in
dem
kam
Mir
hin
bis
Regenbogenpresse.
es
zur
andereab,
Buch darauf an, das Patriarchalische jener Adliger
darzustellen, die noch Grogrundbesitz haben. Ich wollte
70

zeigen, wie Besitz herrisch macht.

Furthermore, no one had dared to question his authority, whether at work or at home, he

be
to
respected:
was a person

das Oberhaupt der Familie, Familie auch im weiteren

( ) er war der Arbeitgeberfr viele


Verwandtschaftssinn,
...
Menschen,er hatte den grten Landbesitzim Umkreis.
Hundertevon Augen blickten respektvollduldendauf ihn,
ihm
keiner
dann
machte
noch, wenn sie sauerwurden;
sogar
die Position streitig, er reprsentiertedie aus lnger
71
Autoritat.
Feudaltraditionherangenommene
patriarchalische

is
brought
believe
Augusta,
to
her
that:
the
up
Throughout
childhood
protagonist,
A.
74).
(M.
heard"
be
but
be
ladies
to
to
"Young
seen
never
are

Whenever she

broom
in
locked
by
her
a
cupboard,
smackedand
governess,
punished
she
was
misbehaved,
boarding-school.
At
is
to
the
during
Later
her
bed
the
away
to
she
sent
night.
then tied
like
behave
for
first
to
Augusta
time
the
resists
continuing
whenshe
rebels
ageof seventeen
She
father's
her
be
to
wishesandcommands.
a robot which could programmedaccording
had had enough of the charadeof kissing everyone'shand, of the pretenceof such

107
her
father
told
that he made her sick. After three more years of leading
so
she
affection,

life
free
herself
from
"Einhaus"
Augusta
the
to
at
makes
a
attempt
physical
superficial
a
ties of her father,theprivilegesandrestrictionsof his exclusiveworld, by studyingin West
Berlin and Paris, later moving to Munich to work as a jourrialist. She thus opts for an

independentlife as remoteas possiblefrom her aristocraticorigins: the free and easy


lifestyle contrastingwith the rigid andrestrictedway of life authorisedby her father. The
her
home
highlights
between
Munich
distance
them, as
the
as
new
of
also
physical
choice

between
the
contrast
city-life and country-life.
as
well
Augustarejectsthe lifestyle which shehad experiencedin her childhood,becauseshe
knew what lay ahead of her if she had stayed. She had no wish to grow into a passive

functions.
She
lazing
house
in
the
also
around
society
and
superficial
participating
woman,
identity,
insomuch
her
is
her
background
likely
the
to
to
as
mould
recognises extent which
become
bearing
the
nobility
an
of
anonymousperson,merely a representative
shewould
in
her
life:
being
family
the
of
status
account
nameand
on
recognisedandacknowledged

Hemmungen, C. A., die Tochter eines Grogrundbesitzers,

eines Rittergutsbesitzers,Schlobesitzers,
eines Junkers zu
sein, dazu die Qual der Anrede, so viele den Anredenden
festlegendeFormeln wie Finger an einer Hand: Comtesse,
Fruleinvon, Frau von, Grfin Pe, Grfin, und wer von den
fflnfen bin ich? (M. A. 179)

it is worth noting that in reality the writer has chosento drop the 'von' from her name,
distinct
from
disassociate
her backgroundand
herself
to
to
signify
a
appears
move
which

108
to create more distance. Perhapsshe also believes that she will be more objective, or that

be
further
implication
disparaging.
is
'right'
A
has
to
the
that shewants
more
earned
she
to be successfulin her own right, just as her protagonistseeksfreedomto expressher
interest
her,
matters
which
about
such as politics.
opinions
Dissension arises betweendaughter and father from a clash of differing socio-political

in
is
highlighted
"Post
This
the
the
entitled
episode
concerning
war-diary
opinions.
festum", which Augusta's father wrote two years after the SecondWorld War and decides
to pass on to Augusta with the expectationthat his daughter will, after reading the diary,

72
he
him
better.
He
her
entrusts
a
of
work
which
valued so much
with piece
understand
that he had never shown it to anyone else. His sister had originally encouragedhim to

in
his
he
down
the
experiences
of
war after cameout of prison order to cometo terms
write
been
Nazi
her
Augusta
father
had
her
tells
that
the
a
and
warns
niece
she
never
events;
with
hard
her
father.
form
however,
be
Augusta,
the
too
to
content
and
analyses
on
of the
not

her father'sreasonsfor writing it and presentingit to


diary,,criticisingandquestioning
her.71 Initially sheis appalledby the predominanceof military jargon, clich6s and selfdeception,but it is the fact that her father, althoughhe appearedto be an opponentof
Hitler, had neverconsideredactualresistancewhich upsetsher mostof all.
As is evidentin othernovelsof this genre,the fatheris in a no-win situationwith regard
to the stancehe took during the 1930s. In the opinionsof their sonsand'daughtersthey
National
Socialism
they
complicity,
whether
actively
or not.
supported
were guilty of
Either they partookof the atrocitiesor they turneda blind eye anddid nothing; either way
their behaviour, according to their judgmental offspring, was incomprehensibleand
inexcusable.Augustaregardsthe incompletediary as a sign of her father's weaknessand
failure to reacha conclusion;the fact thattherewasno concludingcommenteventwo years

109
festum"
"Post
in
Thus
disappointing
daughter
the
the
the
only
succeeds
event.
and
after

doesnot havethedesiredeffectof bringing daughterandfatherclosertogether;if anything


it inspiresher to becomemoreactively involved in the studentprotestsin West Berlin in
1968 and in the extra-parliamentaryprotest movement(AuBerparlamentarischeOpposition,
APO):

Die Tochter erkennt mit fortschreitender Lektre, worum es


nicht geht, lehnt das Groe-Mnner-Pathosab und findet
74
ihre
Einstellung.
eigene politische
allmhlich

The belief of Augustaand for that matter, Plessenherself, that the family estateis
its
if
in
in
bound
by
traditions,
trapped
conventions,
social
as
people
aristocratic
steeped
is
in
from
The
first
is
the
novel.
time
cut
off
made
explicit
chapter
and
reality,
warp
a
in
both
dem
Glassturz":
this
"Unter
twice
to
the
chapter
and
refers
occurs
phrase
entitled
CA's life (M. A. 60) and Augusta'slife (M. A. 75) in "Einhaus". It clearly points to a
is
"Einhaus"
(the
the
that
and
name
class
suggests
of
estate
appropriate)
separate,privileged
is situatedin an isolatedtime zone, unaffectedby the eventsof the war and insulated
"
from
In
Tinhaus"
the
the
the
spite
of
intrusions
rest
of
war
adverse
any
world.
against
be
based
technology
tradition
to
only
on
conservative
modem
and
custom;
and
continues
its
farms.
business
to
the
the
of
allowed
estate
are
penetrate
and
skills
management
new
Here old methodsdo give way to new onesbut solely on accountof the benefitswhich
thesecanyield in order to maintainthe land for Augusta'sbrotherandthe next generation.
It is from this seeminglyendlesscycle of history that Augustabreaksfree and rebels.
The battleof opinionsbetweenfatheranddaughterdevelopsinto a feud, which culminates

110

in her father'sthreatto shoother andher friendsif shebrings any of themhomewith her


from ]Berlin. This threat,whichis indicativeof her father'sintoleranceof anyonewho does
for
his
life,
be
last
Augusta
to
the
of
way
proves
straw
who neverreturns
with
not comply
to "Einhaus" whilst her father is alive. In a draft letter to him she accuseshim of being

incapableof compromise:

Sowie ich bin, nimmstdu mich nicht hin. Ich leidedarunter,


da ich, fr was ich tue und denke, dein stillschweigendes
Einverstndnis nicht erlangen kann.

So wende ich mich

gegen dich. Was dein Einverstndnis nicht hat, lt du bei

ist
ich
da
dir
Es
nicht
mir
zu.
nicht mglichzu akzeptieren,
einenWeg geheals du, einen anderen,als du ihn mir vorzeichnenund vorschreibenwillst, immer noch. (M. A. 221)

Even after travelling to "Einhaus" for the funeral Augustais unable to go beyond the
her
life
between
boundary
the
the
new
and the one she left
and
cross
estate
of
outsIdrts
behind. It is her last act of defiance:if shedid attendthe funeral, she would merelYbe
her,
in
father's
doing
her
taking
of
part
wish,
what
was
expected
another
complyingwith
her
lay
in
The
the
telling
world
about
upbringing,
writer's ultimaterebellion
ceremony.
in
literary
form
father
in
her
life,
her
he
the
criticising
and
played
role
what
especially
behaved.
her
he
daughter
deny
how
This
the
aristocracy
could
of
not
embodiedand
backgroundbut shecould reject the lifestyle by breakingaway from the family-bondsand
by
her
father's
authority.
suffocation
preventing

ill

It could be said of all these father portraits that the daughters-cum-writersare defying

their fathersfor the last time by going public and makingprivate issuesknown to the rest
female
because
defiance
I
this
trait
the
see
as
a
not
male
of
and
writers
would
world.
of
based
the women's writings are
primarily on mixed emotions, waivering betweenlove and
hate of their fathers. Certainly, as shown, Plessen'sprotagonist does comment on social

in
West
Germany.
However,
the
the
postwar
overridingtone
of
period
aspects
political
and
is one of bitterness towards the father: forgiveness cannot be expressed by either the

daughteror the father. It is as if the powerof the fatherhasto be avenged,evenbeyond


father
is
first
her
'Abrechnung'
Plessen's
Thus,
and second with the
with
the grave.
in
German
the
aristocracy.
attitudes embedded

Of the threeworks consideredin this chapterPlessen'snovel containsthe mostobvious


Closer
in
befits
father's
her
the
the
two
title.
analysis
of
role
society
as
works
of
criticism
by SchwaigerandSchuttingdoesalsorevealcriticism of the father'spublic life, usuallyin
in
his
daughter.
his
disinterest
In
from
home
his
the
role as
or
absence
connectionwith
doctor in LangeAbwesenheitthe father is constantlyneededby his sick patientsand is,
therefore, too busy to pay any attentionto his daughters. One result of this lack of
fifty-six-year-old
is
find
father
Jew.
Conflict
from
to
the
a
a
replacement,
affection
betweendaughterand father comesto a headin disagreement
over the daughter'schoice
father
her
having
been
full
both
despise
Knowing
that
lover.
other,
each
will
well
men
of
her
daughter
to
the
Nazi,
wanting
above
the
all
make
clearly playsoneoff against other,
a
father react. Her choice of lover doeshave the desiredeffect of attaining her father's
76
father
daughter
her
if
his
it
does
in
the
punishes
reveal prejudiceS.
a sense
attention,even
foremoston accountof his indifferencetowardsher, but also on accountof his bigoted
because
loving
Nazi,
in
Birer
Jew
By
the
she
overcomes
could easily
a
particular
views.

112
havebeenamongstthemillions of Jewsmurderedby the Nazis. Shetries to hurt her father
the only way sheknowshow, by selectingthe worst imaginablefear her father may have,
defies
father
by
her
law.
daughter
her
In
Jewish
this
association
son-in
public
namelya
indirectly
Jew,
raisesthe questionof ethical responsibility of the generationthat
and
with a
followed Hitler. It is her form of spite, just as Augusta refuses to surrender to her father's

interwoven
in
Abwesenheit
In
Lange
thereof
the
are
social
and
criticism
attitudes
wishes.
by
the writer.
concerns
personal
For both Schwaiger and Plessen writing serves the purpose of a reaction or protest

Schwaiger's
fathers
by
they
their
the
represent.
class-values
and
againstsuppression
'Abrechnung' is also to be recognisedin her confrontation with past personal events and

her open attackin public disclosingthe private mattersto the readerand criticising her
middle-classupbringing:

Brigitte Schwaigerbedientsich der Literatur als Bewltigung


ihrer Unterdruckungdurch denMann zugleichaber bedeutet
ihr das Schreiben eine entscheidende Vorstufe Selbst-

71
bestimmung.

It is apparentin LangeAbwesenheitand in Schwaiger'sfirst autobiographicalnovel Me


kommtdas Salz ins Meer (1977)that the path to discoveringand developingher identity
is,
death
life
have
in
daughter's
been
that
the
the
the
removed,
after
only occursonce men
"
her
from
her
divorce
Rolf.
Criticism
father
her
of
middle-classupbringing
after
and
of
Me
in
is
for
by
from
these
to
the
is evident
values, example
extent which she conditioned
konuntdasSalzins Meer shemarriesthe manwhomher parentsregardas suitableandwho

113
in
her
father.
family
Within
the
the
embodied
authority
male
and marriage
perpetuates
femaleindividuality and self-expression
are suppressed
and not allowed any freedomto
develop,as illustratedin Plessen'snovel, too:

Ich bin frs Zuhrenerzogen,dachteAugusta,jemandenin


seinerRedezu unterbrechen,jemandemins Wort zu fallen,
ist nicht gestattet. Tue ich es, mischeich mich ein, ist es, als

ich
163)
(M.
Mund.
A.
mit
vollem
redete

Yet due to their financial security all these daughters, including Schutting's narrator, are

having
is
done
It
home
that
though,
leave
they
noticeable,
and
study.
so,
to
eventually
able
do decideto stayawayfrom homein order to createa life for themselves.The emphasis
Schwaigerplaceson the significanceof the daughter'ssocialbackgroundcomesto the fore
in her first novel:in fact "gutbargerlich"is thevery first word of the text andthe suitability
through
is
linked
to
this
standards
Rolf
of
notion
maintaining
middle-class
generations
of
family:
the
of

Vater sagt, Rolf ist ein anstndigerund tchtiger Bursche,


Mutter sagt, auf Rolf kann ich stolz sein, Gromuttersagt,
daswichtigsteist eine gutbrgerlicheVerbindung."

in
is
Lange
Abwesenhelt
Birer
the
that
little
then,
is
a shock
relationshipwith
It
wonder,
for the daughter'sfamily andunacceptable.After interviewingSchwaigerin 1977JOrgen
Serkemadethe following commentsabout her first novel which also ring true of Lange

114
father
Abwesenheitand do highlight the inadequacies
the
of
as depictedby all the women
in
writers this study:

Immer wieder qult der Gedankean den Vater, der mit sich
fertig
geworden ist. Der Vater, der sich arm geizte,
nicht

dem
htte
knnen:
er
mit
sparte,
geben
weil
was er
Geborgenheit, Wrme, Vertrauen. Statt dessen Erziehung
dem
Vokabel Tugend. Tugendsamsollte die Tochter
unter

sein. Brgerliche Anstndigkeit,die alle starken Gefhle


"
schleift.

Similaritieshavealreadybeenshownbetweenthewaysin which Plessen,Schwaigerand


Schuttingpresentthedaughter-father
relationshipin light of the father'sdeathandtheseare
in spite of the fact that many personal matters surface which point to individual
in
level
On
the
the
the
society
of
criticism
which
general
a
more
writer's
circumstances.
daughteris broughtup also servesa purpose,especiallyif the readeris to understandthe
Such
is
his
behaviour
his
daughter.
father
towards
the
social
criticism
not the
and
role of
herself
has
illustrates
Schutting,
Der
Vater
said:
as
and as she
main concernof

Fr einen Autor kommt etwas hinzu, was man sich kaum


sthetische.
(
)
ist
das
Der Tod
das
nochzu sagengetraut,
...
ist dochsthetischgeseheneine sehrtriviale Sache,wie kann
ich etwasdarausmachen. Das ist ein Motiv, das fr mich
die
Fragenachder Autoritt. Also mein
als
mehr
zhlt
wohl

115
Vater hatte kine Autoritt.
sthetische berlegungen fr

Ich meine, es sind doch


einen Autor oft

viel

11
als moralischeoder gesellschaftspolitische.
entscheidender

As explainedpreviouslyin this chapter,whendiscussingthe associationof the father with


God, the Father, Schuttingdoesmake use of religious symbolism in her work. Her interest
in the language as a means of depicting death in aesthetic terms will be considered in
Chapter Five, when we look at the narrative strategiesemployed in these writings. For

her
is
it
to
this
to
mention
approach
writer's
attitude
and
portrayal of the
necessary
now
death of her father, which differ from that of Plessenand Schwaiger in that any criticism

is veiled, and it explainsthe lack of socio-historicalfacts.


Schutting'sfatheralsohada professionwhich kept him awayfrom his children: he had
beena vet and he enjoyedhuntinglike C.A. in Mitteilung an denAdel. Whilst Schutting
in
interest
her,
having
demonstrated
father
her
shecannot,as
scarcelyany
of
can accuse
82
demanding
discipline
do,
him
Schwaiger
and
obedience.
Plessenand
accuse
of enforcing
On the contrary,her fatherdislikedorderandduty to the extentthat it probablyinfluenced
his decisionnot to join the Nazi party, the NSDAP. In this caseSchuttingdoes regret
becoming
for
Nazi.
his
father
her
having
not
a
about
reasons
asked
never

More

importantly,thereis no evidencein Der Vaterof conflict betweendaughterand fatherover


in
had
been
he
hunting
during
Even
during
the
trips
thirties.
the
out on
his standpoint
war
France and RussiaIdIling deer and wild boar, insteadof fighting on the Front. This
daughter'sanger, as shown, is directedat her father's indifferencetowardsher; sociois
it
hence
is
issues
likely
debated
he
the
that
alive,
are
not
when
political and/or moral
his
death.
in
For
Schutting,
then,
to
such
matters
referring
after
no
purpose
sees
writer

116
Der Vater is not an 'Abrechnung' becausethere is no senseof vengeanceor punishmentin

her
father
the work, insteadthereis disappointment
to
the
and
understand
alongwith
need
to cometo termswith his deathin order to makesenseof her life.
For thesewomenwriters lack of communication,the inability to expressoneselffreely
inhibitions
father,
fear
daughter
between
the
without
and
or
of reprisals, causes greatestrift

whetherthe writer portraystheheadof the family or the manat work, whethershechooses


to emphasisepersonal and/or public issues. Heinrich Vormweg seesthe relevanceof these
'Vdterbilcher' for the reader in both the personal story and the political/historical criticism,

but at the sametime he doesquestionwhetherthe morepersonalwritings arejust following


literature
German
fashion,
keeping
in
trend
or whetherthese
a
contemporary
up with a
"
father-child
indicative
relationship.
works are
of a changing

As this chapter has

illustrated, it is the latter, on accountof the fact that apart from literature the daughterfather relationship is being recognisedmore and more as influential and equally as
development
in
importantto that of the daughter-mother
the
of a'daughter's
relationship
in
be
featured
this
At
three
chapter
can
regarded
time
the
the
works
self-awareness.
same
like
because,
in
'VAterb0cher'
their male
the
trend
as a whole
as representativeof
in
fathers,
their
Reich
legacy
Third
the
albeit
they
the
embodied
colleagues,
confront
of
the
books
The
of
typify
the
perspective
three
personal
authentic,
posthumously.
also
literaturewhich appearedin the 1970sand 1980s,later termed'NeueSubjektivitat',in that
deep
is
in
her
within
and
probes
problems
eachwriter very much enveloped
own private
herself to find a solution to her anxieties. For many Germanicwomen writers of this
find
herself,
in
thewriter
is
to
the
to
order
period act of writing central self-definition,and,
beginswith an analysisof her father and/or mother, her creators. Analysisof Plessen's,
Schwaiger'sand Schutting'sfather-bookshas shownthis to be the case. Moreover, their

117
illustrate
writings
specificallythe right of the daughterto fight back againstthe values
assertedby her father, as Reinhard Baumgart similarly concludesin his review of
literature:
contemporaryGermanautobiographical

In den Vaterbchem der spten siebziger Jahre hat die Wut

Kreide gefressen.dipusist gehemmtdurchMelancholie,ja


durch eine traurige oder auch bse Grazie. Man bewegt sich
besserwisserischin einer unverbesserlichenWelt. Vter, die

zu nichts anderem zu taugen scheinen,als nachtrglich,


bewiesen
falsches
Leben
ihr
dem
Papier
zu
postumund auf
bekommen,machenihre Shne und Tchter merkwrdig
kraftlos, traurig, und ausdiesertraurig, kraftlos gewordenen
Liebe wird ebenzur Not auch Grazie, und die kann "ganz
der
Beschwerdeprosa
die
bissig
mokante
agieren,wie
schn"
"
Schwaigeram genauesten
zeigt.

118
NOTES TO CHAPTER ONE

Michael Schneider,Den Kopf verkehrtaufgesetztoder Die melancholische


Linke
(DarmstadtandNeuwied:Luchterhand,1981),p. 36.

Jessica Benjamin, 'Authority and the Family Revisited: or, A World Without

FathersT New GennanCtitique, 13 (1978),35-57 (p. 46).

Alexander Mitscherlich, Auf dem Weg zur vaterlosen Gesellschaft: Ideen zur

Sozialpsychologie
(Mnchen,Zrich: Piper, 1989).
Eva Kolinsky refers to the "fatherlesssociety of today" in her work, Womenin West

Gennany(Oxford: Berg, 1989),p. 93.

Schneider,p. 14.

Since Ist July 1977the Civil Codeon Marriageand Family Law (Para. 1356)has
read as follows:

Die Ehegattenregelndie Haushaltsfhrung


im gegenseitigen
Einvernehmen.Ist die Haushaltsfhrung
einemder Ehegatten
berlassen, so leitet dieser den Haushalt in eigener
Verantwortung.BeideEhegattensindberechtigt,erwerbsttig
zu sein. Bei der Wahl und Ausbungeiner Erwerbsttigkeit

119
habensie auf die Belangedes anderenEhegattenund der
Familie die geboteneRcksichtzu nehmen.

Uta Gerhardt,ed., Frauensituation(Frankfurta.M.: Suhrkamp,1988),p. 8.

Kolinsky, p. 52.

Figures show that in 1988 approximately sixteen percent of single parents (1


.9

million in total) were male.


Emil Hfibner and H. -H. Rohlfs, Jahrbuchder BundesrepublikDeutschland
1990/91(Mnchen:Beck/dtv, 1990),p. 33.

'Usfiger Gast': interview with Cheryl Benard and Edit Schlaffer in Der Splegelp

16 September1991.

ReinhartLempp, Tie Rolle desVatersundihre Vernderungim 20. Jahrhundert',


in Sturzder Gtter? Vaterbilderim 20. Jahrhundert,ed. by WernerFaulstichand
GOnterE. Grimm (Frankfurta.M.: Suhrkamp,1989),pp. 176-189(p. 184).

10

JessicaBenjamin,TheBondsof Love (London:Virago, 1990),p. 110.

11

bei
(Reinbek
die
Vter
Cheryl Benardand Edit Schlaffer,ed-, Sagt uns, wo
sind
Hamburg:Rowohlt, 1991),p. 141.

120
12

Lempp, pp. 185-186.

13

Nancy Chodorow, 7he Reproductionof Mothering (Berkeleyand Los Angeles:


University Pressof California, 1978),p. 195.

14

Elyce Wakerman,FatherLoss (London:Piatkus,1986),p. 2 1.

15

Erich Fromm, 7he Art of Loving (London: Unwin, 1976)0p. 40.

16

Elaine Feinstein,Mother's Girl (London:Arena, 1989)0p. 9.

17

Interestingly,Greer's autobiographicalwork hasbeentranslatedinto Germanand


was publishedby dtv in April 1992under the tide Daddy. Die Geschichteeines
Fremden.,The publishersmustbelievethat therecontinuesto be a marketfor such
father-portrayalsin German-spealdng
countries.

18

Sylvia Fraser, My Father's House. A Memoir of Incest and Healing (London:


Virago, 1989),p. 14.

19

Fraser,p. 241.

20

BarbaraTaufar was bom in Austria but now lives in Israel, after convertingto
Judaismat the ageof forty-five. Sheremainedat her father'sbedsidefor six weeks
the
Chissick
Rosalyn
to
at
She
spoke
whilst he was dying of a brain tumour.

121
Culture.
Options,
History
for
Study
Jewish
Spiro
Institute
the
the
and
of
requestof
November1988,pp. 43-44.

21

GermaineGreer,Daddy, WeHardly Knew You(London:HamishHamilton, 1989),


81.

22

Greer, p. 247.

23

Patrick Taylor-Martin, 'A daughter writes', Punch, 24 March 1989, p. 45.

24

Interview with AnthonyWilson, 7he Other Sideof Midnight, ITV, 2 April 1989.

25

Peter Henisch, Die kleine Figur meines Vaters (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1980),

109.
75
and
pp.

26

Keith Bullivant refersto these'VAterromane'as being "a new sub-genrewithin the


'Neue
Subjektivitat'.
during
his
Today
Realism
the
analysis
of
social
novel"
orbit of
(LeamingtonSpa,Hamburg,New York: Berg, 1987),p. 222.

27

Schneider,p. 9.

28

30
September
Magazine,
Times
Sunday
Fathers',
Gitta Sereny, 'The Sins of the
1990,p. 29.

122
29

Schneider,p. 12.

30

MaureenCleave,'In theHeartof theEnemy', ObserverMagazine,2 October1988,


p. 53. In November1988ChristabelBielenberg'sbook 7he Past is Myself was
dramatisedfor the BBC by Dennis Potter under the title Christabel, which told of

her survival in Nazi Germany.

31

Niklas Frank, Der Vater (Mnchen:Bertelsmann,1987), p. 283. In his book


Niklas Frank uses his father's diaries to addresshis father who had been Hitler's
personal lawyer, head of the Nazi judiciary and 'Governor-General' of Poland in

1939. He hadbeentried as a major war criminal in the 1945-6NurembergTrials.


Frank's accountis filled with bitternessand hatred towards his deceasedfather
whom he describesas a typical Germanmonster. Even though this father was
9well-known', Frank points out that 'ordinary' fathers at that time were just as

guilty:

Wie arm sindMillionen andererKinder dran,derenVter das


gleicheGeschwtzvoll Hinterlist undFeigheit,voll Mordlust
und Unmenschlichkeitvon sich geben, aber nicht so
prominent waren wie Du.

Bei ihnen lohnte nicht die

Aufzeichnungihrer Tiraden, ihre Tagebcherwurden nicht


aufgelistet. Ich hab es gut, ich kann aus den Archiven
Europas und den USA die FleischfetzenDeines Lebens
lgenhaften
kann
von
zusammenklauben,
sie, unbehelligt

123
familiren Geschwtz,beugen. Wie immer ich sie auch mit

Skalpell oder Hammer bearbeite, es kommt ein typisch


deutsches
Monsterraus. (Der Vater, p. 19)

32

Sereny, p. 29.

33

Maijorie Leonard, 'Fathers and Daughters: The Significance of "Fathering" in the


PsychosexualDevelopmentof the Girl', International Journal ofPsychoanalysis, 47

(1966),325-334(p. 333).

34

ManfredJurgensen,
DeutscheFrauenautorender Gegenwart(Bern:Franke, 1983),
325.
p.

35

Schneider,
p. 33.

36

Brigitte Schwaiger,Lange Abwesenheit(Reinbekbei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1983).


Abbreviatedto L. A. with paginationin brackets.

37

Jutta Schutting,Der Vater (Reinbekbei Hamburg:Rowohlt, 1983). Abbreviated


to V. with pagenumbersin parentheses.

38

ElisabethPlessen,Mitteilung an den Adel (Mnchen:dtv, 1985). Referredto as


M. A. with paginationin brackets.

124

39

Albert von Schimding,Tatre Absente',Merkur, 5 (1980),489-497(p. 496).

40

SeepageI 11.

41

Seepage 50.

42

Judy Tatelbaurn, 7he Courage to Grieve (London: Heinemann, 1983), p. 33.

43

This is one explanationfor Augusta'sdecisionnot to attend the funeral of her


father. Seepages100and 109for further details.

44

Tatelbaum,p. 31.

45

The suggestionthat the fatherdeceiveshis daughteris particularlyapparentin Me


kommt das Sak ins Meer. The text endswith the words "Alles Trick": whilst
looking back,at photographsof a happyfatherand daughter,standingnext to each
other, the daughterrecallshow her fatherhadled her to believethat thephotographs
had
father
for
her
be
Her
in
that
the
would printed a newspaper, was reason
smiles.
succeededin manipulatingher, just as his death has the unexpectedeffect of
bringing her closeto him.

46

BeverleyRaphael,7heAnatomyofBereavement(London:Hutchinson,1984),p. 46.

47

SeepageP1 for further detailsaboutreligiousconnotationsin this particularnovel.

125
48

Seepages92-97 for sexualinnuendo.

49

Elyce Wakerman,FatherLoss (London:Piatkus, 1986),p. 19.

50

Brigitte Schwalger, Wie kommtdas Salz ins Meer (Reinbekbei Hamburg: Rowohlt,

1984),p. 31.

51

Seepage57.

52

Seepage84.

53

Viktor Zmegac,ed., Geschichte


Literatur von18. Jahrhundertbis zur
der deutschen
821.
Gegenwart.
1984),
111,
1919-1980
Athenum,
(Knigstein/Ts.:
p.
-

54

At the start of Der Vaterreferenceis madeto the humansoul being like a trapped
bird in a humanbody, a life-long cage. A woman'shusbanddiesand sheopensthe
window to let the soul out (V. 36-37).

55

Wakerman,p. 19.

56

Plessenusesa similar analogyfor the lack of understanding


betweendaughterand
father when Augustaremarks: "Wir stehenuns schlecht"(M. A. 243).

57

Jurgensen,p. 307.

126
58

Wakerman,p. 20.

59

This notion of the daughteronly being able to get closeto her father when sheis
a 'dog' is reminiscent of Germaine Greer's remark about her relationship with her
father when she was a child:

Man and dog are supposedto have a wordless attachment.

Perhapsmy father thoughtof me as his kelpie. Maybe he


believed a rough caressor a word of praise would have
dog
it's
than a woman,
I
truer
think
a
of
ruined me.
no
actually.

Daddy, WeHardly Knew You(London:HamishHamilton, 1989),p. 201.

60

The poem appearsin JUrgenSerke'sFrauenSchrelben(Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer,


1982),p. 303. The idea of cutting off the father's tonguesuggeststhe endingof
for
drawing
Grass'
the
GOnter
domination.
is
cover
It
too,
of
verbal
a reminder,
thus
the
tongue
his
Hundejahre
(1963),
the
penis,
resembles
of
novel
where
is
implication
that
Schwaiger's
the
In
the
poem
symbolising eroticismof words.
any sexualbond hasalso beensevered.

61

At one point Plessenmakesthe following comment: "Sie versteckteihre HRnde,


Augusta's
is
36).
The
A.
that
(M.
weil sie sie an andereerinnerten"
suggestion
handsdo look like her father's. GermaineGreernoticesthe similarity betweenher

127
handsand thoseof her father: "I knew as I held my father'sold handin my own,
its exactreplica, andwatchedmy skull emergingthroughhis transparentskin, that
I am my father'sdaughter". Daddy, WeHardly Knew You,p. 14.

62

Translated from Italian "Pinocchio" meansa 'pine seed. The original story was

The
by
Walt
Disney.
for
by
text
Carlo
Collodi
written
and adapted screenand
actual puppet was made of pine wood.

63

Sandra Frieden, '"Selbstgesprche": Elisabeth Plessen'sMitteilung an den Adel',

Seminar,18 (1982),271-286(p. 286).

64

GabrieleWohmann,SchnesGehege(DarmstadtandNeuwied:Luchterhand,1985),
p. 276.

65

Serke,p. 352.

66

Raphael,p. 57. 'If we seea person9snameasbeingcloselylinked to their identity,


Julian
her
to
Schutting
it
be
here
Jutta
name
that
changed
then should
noted
Schuttingon 11 September,1989. In fact, during the eightiesshewasknownto her
friends as "Justus". When interviewedin September1989a sex-change
operation
had beenundergone:

Statt wie bisher Jutta Schuttingheie ich nach Erledigung


letzter Formalittenab jetzt Julian Schutting. Dank einer

128
(
habe
)
Therapie
sensationellen
medizinischen
hineswegs
...

ich die rechtlich vorgeschriebenen


Bedingungenerfllt, um
auch vor dem Gesetzals Mann zu gelten, in 'bereinstimmung mit meinem lebenslangenSelbstgefhl.

sin, 'LebenslnglicherOhnmachtentflohen. Jutta Schuttingwird knftig Julian


Schutting sein', Die Presse, 12 September1989, p. 11.
The first reasonSchutting gave for this sexualidentity changeat the age of fifty-one

was connectedwith her ability to write:

Ich hab' immer gedacht, der liebe Gott hat mir meine
Begabungals Entschdigunggegeben,weil er mich nicht als

GewichtheberoderHolzfller auf die Welt geschickthat. Ich


habe jahrelang Angst gehabt, eines Tages nicht mehr
schreibenzu knnen.

ich Stern,28 September1989,p. 327.


Hilke Rosenboom,Tas bin sozusagen
As a child Schuttinghad alwaysfelt like a boy but it was only when shebeganto
her
Schutting
For
the
felt
true
that
that
to
self.
she
write
she was able express
features
it
her
kind
because
that
external
meant
operationwas a
of metamorphosis
would reflect her inner feelings. In interviewsshemadea point of sayingthat she
had nothingagainstbeing a woman,but shejust could not understandherselfas a
woman.

129
67

Jurgensen, p. 277. In Lange Abwesenheit the daughter also points out that the

fatherhadstifledhis daughter'sdevelopment
andunderminedtheir relationshipwith
him: "Ich httees nicht zugelassen,
daer mich und meineTchterverkrppelt"
(L. A. 52).

68

Fraser,p. 150.

69

Serke,p. 352.

70

Serke,p. 352. Not just ownershipleadsto powerbut also his role as headof the
family.

71

ElisabethPlessen,'Abschiedvon den Vtern', in Vatersein,ed. by Hans-Jrgen


Schultz(MOnchen:dtv, 1984),pp.19-41(pp.25-26).

72

"Post Festum" is also the title of the secondchapter of the novel. This Latin phrase

canbe translatedin two ways: after the festival' or 'too late'. Augustais giventhe
diary after she has attendedfamily festivitieson the estate;the diary's title refers
to 'after the war'; the diary is 'too late' becauseit wasnot written at the time of the
eventsand thereforenot a true diary; it also signifies that reconciliationbetween
father and daughteris too late, sinceit doesnot achievethe effect the father had
hopedfor.

73

The questionsarepresentedas imaginarydiscussionswith her father,as " Anldufe"-

130
74

RenateMhrmann, 'FeministischeTrends in der deutschenGegenwartsliteratur', in

1981),
Reclam,
by
(Stuttgart:
Manfred
Durzak
DeutscheGegenwartsliteratur,
ed.
pp. 337-358(p. 350).

75

Another word for "Glassturz" is "Glasglocke" which is also the German title for

Syliva Plath's 7heBell Jar, written in 1963. The bell jar is similarly a symbolof
dissociation from reality for the protagonist, Esther Greenwood, who fails to IdIl

herself. Undera GlassBell is the title of a collectionof thirteenshort storiesby


AnalsNin, which wasfirst publishedin 1948. Oneof the storiesis entitled"Under
in
have
(written
in
Glass
in
to
Bell"
1941)
time
stood
still
a stately
appears
a
which

home:

The light from the icicle bushesthrew a patina over all


kept
flowers
into
bouquets
of still
objects,and turned them
flowers,
the
bell
the
bell.
The
covered
glass
under a glass
beds,
the
the
statues,
the
the
chairs,
panoplied
whole room,
butlers, all the peopleliving in the house. The glass bell
coveredthe entire house.

Anals Nin, Undera GlassBell (Harmondsworth:Penguinv1980),p. 35.

76

Seepage75 for how the daughterhasabsorbedher father's prejudices.

77

Jurgensen,p. 283.

131
78

In Schwaiger's autobiographicalworks the female identity appearsto be dependent

in
the
the
on
manwho plays mostsignificantrole at variousstages a girl's/woman's
life. Her self revolvesaroundhis and is determinedby him. Oncemarried the
ich.
bin
in
kommt
das
Ich bin
ins
"Ich
Wie
Salz
Meer.
nicht
narrator comments
Rolfs Frau" (p. 34). As in the caseof the father, the woman is expectedto submit

is
her
husband's
during
Even
to
the
she
affair
extra-marital
and adhere
wishes.
subjectedto the demandsand commandsof her lover, Albert.

79

Brigitte Schwaiger,Wiekommtdas Salzins Meer, p. 13.

80

Serke,p. 300.

81

Heinrich Vormweg, 'Eine sanfteArt von Mord? ber die neuerenliterarischen


Vaterbilder', LoccumerProtokolle,6 (1981)94-22 (p. 19).

82

Karol Sauerlandcomesto the sameconclusion:"Die Autorin braucht sich daher


der
Vergangenheit
Zeit
Brigitte
Schwaiger
mit
schlechten
nicht wie
zur gleichen
ihresVatersauseinanderzusetzen".
Karol Sauerland,lutta Schutting',in Kritisches
Gegenwartsliteratur,
Lexikonzur deutschsprachigen
ed. by Heinz Ludwig Amold,
1 April 1985,pp. 1-8 (p. 6).

83

Vormweg, pp. 12-13.

132
84

Reinhard Baumgart, 'Dem Leben hinterhergeschrieben- Der Knstler vor dem

Spiegel- Vom Nutzenund Nachteileinerautobiographischen


Literatur', Die Zeit,
5 October,1984,p. 72.

133
CHAPTER TWO: MY MOTHER LIVES ON IN ME

In this chapterwe will analysethe mother-daughter


relationshipin GabrieleWohmann's
Ausflug mit der Mutter (1976), Margrit Schriber's Kartenhaus (1978) and Waltraud Anna
.
Mitgutsch's Die Zachtigung (1985) by comparing the similarities and differences between
daughtersand mothers as presentedby eachof theseGerman, Swiss and Austrian authors,
highlighting
the possible similarities betweenthe portrayals. Wohmann's novel
as well as
comprises the adult daughter's reflections on her bond with her mother one year after her

motherhasbecomea widow, and therebydealsnot only with the reactionof two different
but also the lonelinesswhich elderly people
generationsto the loss of the husband/father,
mayexperienceafter the deathof a partner. In a similarvein Schriber'sfemaleprotagonist
confrontsthe lonely existenceof her divorcedmotherin a small Swisscommunity,when
she pays her a rare visit, the duration of which constitutesthe book. In contrast to
Wohmann's daughter-figure,who focusesexclusively on the present-dayrelationship
between daughter and mother, Schriber's daughter-figurerecalls her childhood and
in the village; the day her fatherleft homefor a womanof his daughter'sage,
adolescence
andthe effect this hadon her motherandherself. As in Wohmann'sand Schriber'sworks
bond,this
Mitgutsch,too, illustratesthe extentto which guilt pervadesthe mother-daughter
time through three generationsof womenliving in rural Austria. Die Zilchtigung is a
chronicleof the repeatedmistakesof eachmotherthroughthegenerations,the mistreatment
from
daughter,
down
the
torture
one
of each
cruel and callousphysicaland mental
passed
beat
has
The
is
to
to
the
the
woman
next.
narrator
resolvednot
present-daymotherwho
her daughter,but with whom shefails to havea happyrelationship. Her analysisof her
own upbringingandher mother'slife in order to find reasonsfor this absenceof happiness

134
and transferenceof hatred are the focus of Mitgutsch's account. For the daughtersin all

threebooksinitial analysisof the mothermergesinto self-analysis.


Like thedaughterswriting abouttheir fathersin thepreviouschapter,thesethreewriters
also discuss and question the nature of their relationship with their respective mothers in
an attempt to discover their own identity. It will becomeevident that in the first instance

eachdaughterwantsand needsto understandher mother- in the caseof Wohmannand


Schriber the mother is still alive; that she has to analyse consciously her mother's every

in
move order to do so; that only thencansheform her own thoughtsabouther motherand
makejudgementsabouther mother'sbehaviourandher mother'sattitudetowardsher own
position as a wife, a divorcee, or a widow. During and as a result of this process of

her
her
daughter
develops
the
of
own self.
of
analysis
mother,
an understanding
gradually
it will be shown that the relationshipbetweenmother and daughteris central to the
developmentof a woman's identity; at the sametime it remainscomplex: "Von allen
Beziehungen,die ich kenne,ist die zwischenMutter andTochterzweifellos
menschlichen
' We shall Seethat the
die geheimnisvollste,kompliziertesteund emotionsgeladenste".
in
found
is
indeed
be
the
'this
ambivalenceof unspoken
complexity of
relationship
-to
feelings,the fluctuationbetweenlove and hate, as well as in the generationgap. Before
in
literary
the
the
the
mother our
role of
analysing
relationship,we need to consider
Westernculture, her relationshipwith her child, in particular her daughter,in order to
is
fraught
the
to
at
this
yet
problems,
with
and
appreciate
what
recognise
extent
relationship
this
for
both
We
then
to
time
all
extent
so
note
what
vital
shall
same
motherand child.
theorisingis evidentin thesethreeworks of Germanicliterature.
Just as the role of the father has beenundergoinga changebasedon the development
ideas
from one generationto the next, so that nowadayshousehusbands
are no
of new

135
longer ridiculed, so the role of the mother has also beenchanging,but in the opposite
direction. Sheis no longerconfinedto the domesticityof motherhood,insteadthe growing
trendfor Westernmothersis to combinechild-rearingwith a careeror part-timework. We
could say, therefore, that the professional, middle-classfather is slowly moving towards his
child, trying to make time and putting more effort into the relationship; whilst the educated,

middle-classmother is moving away from her child in that she continuesto work and
develops outside interests, while still bringing up children.

Psychologists and

for
do
healthy
the
these
moves,
not
only
psychoanalysts actuallyacknowledge
changesas
developmentof a child which needsto becomean autonomousbeing, but also for the
for
both
be
themselves
should
parents
who
responsible child-raisingand yet maintainan
identity, onewhich goesbeyondsimplybeingthebreadwinneror the nurturer.
independent
Of course,the changesin theseparentalrole patternshavenot only beeninfluencedby the
.I.

both
is
It
that
the
but
by
case
often
emancipationof women,
also economicnecessity.
bringing
demands
financial
have
in
be
up a
the
of
to
to
parents
work order to
able meet
family, or the husbandis maderedundant,whilst his wife continuesworldng or succeeds
in finding a job, or the husbandchoosesto'stay at home,if the wife is happyto pursuea
it
is
But,
that
breadwinner.
becomes
evident
the
although
career,as a result of which she
is
it
becoming
more and more womenare
career-oriented, unlikely that motherhoodwill
be forfeited and children neglected,sincethe working motherwill never distanceherself
from her child in the way that the working father has done, on accountof the strong
fact
between
life-giver
that
the
ties
women
the
the
as
as
well
symbiotic
and
offspring,
realisethat motherhoodaffectstheir own developmentas a woman. Parentalroles cannot
be clearly definedanymorebecausetheyaredependent
on theinfluencesof personalchoice,
individual's
interpretation
an
of child-rearingand on socio-economicconditions.

136
Traditionally, it was virtually inevitable that a girl would eventually assumethe role of
mother; her existencewould revolve totally around her child becauseshe was the object of
its needs and desires. For centuries female individuation was discouraged so that each
in
daughter,
her
implanted
the
yet willingly and
same expectation
generation of mothers
Women's
Whilst
independence.
her
the
to
according
convention encouraged
son's
Movement with its demandsfor sexual freedom, financial freedom and independencehas
had a significant effect on altering habits of a lifetime, of creating a subject out of an
it
is
difficult
daughters
"for
believe
Nancy
Chodorow,
that
object, psychoanalysts,such as
in a Western middle-class family to develop self-esteem"and claims, as do others in her
(and
daughter
her
"the
inevitably
to
that
son) regression,
mother
represents
profession,
father
dependence,
the
lack
represents
and
passivity,
of orientation to reality, whereas
2
Chodorow
independence,
reachessuch a
and reality orientation".
progression, activity,
for
'pushing'
the
because
individual
blame
basis
mother
still rests with
on an
conclusion
in
daughters
her,
from
in
direction,
another
and
towards autonomy, away
one
sons
direction, towards dependence,towards her, but also Western society as a whole holds the
that
housewife
in
low
and
progress,
the
as
outdated,
esteem,regarding
position of a mother
for the better, has been made. In Guilt: 7he Grey Eminencebehind Character, History and
Culture (1985), for instance, John Carroll points out that the mother-dominatedfamily has
in
it
has
in
been "the central agent of social change" Western society, although
existed
'
'power'
the
factors
have
this
to
A
to
mother:
of
rise
number
of
contributed
cultures.
other

is
life
first, consumerismhasplayeda far greaterrole in the
of the wife/mother,sinceshe
his
father
therefore,
decides
buy;
and,
the onewho usually
second,the work of the
what to
there
thus
in
because
family,
has
been
devalued
the
well,
can
equally
mothers work
status
is no specialrespectfor the original headof the householdanymore;third, the father's

137
moral authority has also beenreducedto the extent that he is no longer worthy of emulation

by his children; and fourth, material affluence in the form of a washing-machine,a


dishwasheror microwaveoven, hasenabledthe motherto indulgein her own interests,so
that she does not have to spendso much time doing what somepeople may have regarded
as tmenial' tasks. Thus, with advancementsin domestic technology and gradual changes

in socialattitudes,the motherhasbeengainingstatusandat the sametime subconsciously


undermining the position of the father.

Another positive move for the mother has been the recognitionof her significance
become
itself
has
to
the
that
mother-centred,
psychoanalysts
amongst
extent
psychoanalysis
(1991):
Sayers
in
Psychoanalysis
Janet
her
introduction
Motheting
to
as
explains

Its focus has shifted from the past and individual issues
concerning patriarchal power, repression, resistance,
knowledge, sex and castration, to the present and
interpersonal issues concerning matemal care an

its

deprivation
identification,
idealization
envy,
and
vicissitudesand loss, love and hate, introjectionandprojection.

into
be
All theseaspectsinherentin mother-centred
taken
accountwhen
will
psychoanalysis
book
her
in
In
between
daughters
this
the
chapter.
analysing relationships
mothersand
Sayersdescribesthe lives of HeleneDeutsch,KarenHomey, Anna Freud and Melanie
Klein, and their pioneeringwork in the field of psychoanalysisat the beginningof the
to
twentiethcentury. Shealsopoints out that suchmother-centred
appeals
psychoanalysis
feministsbecausemuch moreimportanceis placedon the love of a motherandthe effects

138
of this being deniedor abused,as well as the fact that suchpsychoanalysis"apparently
'
least
valorizeswomen's work, at
as mothers". Contrastingly,MargareteMitscherlich
highlightsthe issuethat for a long time manyin the Women'sMovementhaveexpressed
a great deal of hatred towards the mother, since they blame her for restricting a daughter's
' Whilst the anger arising from such
development and preventing female independence.

conflict with the motherhaslately abated,somefeministscontinueto be concernedabout


the mother's powerful effect on female sexuality and identity as well as her underpinning

of the cultural prejudicesof maleand female. Mothersare seenas primarily responsible


for their children'sgenderroles, so they are the first to be blamedif developmentis in any
way stunted.
Thus, on a psychologicallevel problems do still exist with regard to society's
recognition of the mother's ability to be independent,and also the part she plays in
influencingher child's autonomousdevelopment:it is herethat we seethe extentto which
the mother'sexistenceis inextricablylinked to that of her daughterand vice versa. For
every child, female and male, the mother is the first, most important personin its life
becauseshenurturesit, and the child dependstotally on her. In order to grow up, each
infant hasto separatefrom its motherandlearnsaboutits sexualidentity from its respective
parent, hencea girl will haveto identify with her motherso that she can learn from her
being
female.
This suggests,therefore,that shewill be influencedby her mother's
about
attitude towards sexuality,her methodsof coping with emotions,her values. Yet each
femaleinfant mustpart from her motherin order to createher individual identity. Thus,
the problemsembeddedin the mother-daughterrelationshipare alreadyevidentin early
childhood. For every daughterher relationshipwith her motheris the first and probably
the most important one in her life, at the sametime the nature of the bond is highly

139
ambiguousand can createa stifling environment, not only for the daughter, but also for the

indicate,both daughterand motherhavetheir own reasonsfor


mother. As psychoanalysts
finding it difficult to separatefrom one another.
If we consider the daughter's inability to break free from her mother first, it is
noticeable that part of the problem stems from the fact that the daughter does not need to

from
her motherin order to achieveher genderidentity, unlike the sonwho hasto turn
part
to his father, and in so doing separateshimself from his mother. The daughter, therefore,
has neither experiencedthe process of separationnor learnt how to break away from her
her
in
her
development.
She
to
this
mother and
crucial stage
remains attached
mother at
knows no difference.

The daughter's initial identification with her mother is both

by
the
is
later
bond
conflict
and
the
emotional
physicallyand sexuallyrelated;
prolonged
pressureof societalexpectations,as SigneHammerexplains:

In der Beziehungzur Mutter erfhrtdie Tochtererstmals,was


es bedeutet,einePersonzu sein, oder aber sie mu erleben,
da sie nicht dazu angehaltenwird, ein Bewutseinder
der
die
Reaktionen
Identitt
Es
sind
eigenen
zu entwickeln.
Mutter auf den Krper der Tochter und dessenBedrfnisse,
ihrem
bewirken,
Krper eine
die
da
Tochter
welche
selbstzu
Beziehung herstellt und damit die Grundlage fr das
legt.
der
Identitt
Bewutsein
wachsende
sexuellen

Und

schlielich ist es die Mutter, die als erste der Tochter


andeutet,welche Erwartungendie Umwelt an die Trgerin
der weiblichenRolle stellt."

140
According to Hammer, three factors contribute to the shaping of the daughter's identitY:

first, the personalityof the mother; second,the surroundingsof the matemalhomeinto


which the girl is bom; andthird, the daughter'spersonalcharacteristics.All thesefactors
interact to form the foundation for the mother-daughterrelationship. For the daughter
separation, that is, freeing herself from her attachmentto her mother, which should start

betweenthe agesof three and four, is fraughtwith difficulties and becomesincreasingly


is
in
individuation
Furthermore,
the
complex as she grows older.
process of achieving
9
be
less
life.
The
daughter's
to
throughout
the
women's novels
progress more or

is
in
her
daughter
late
here
book
is
in
thirties
the
that
this
true,
considered
show
since each
independent
being,
forties,
individual,
her
life
and as
and still unsure about
or early
as an

its
has
lacks
in
herself.
Her
see,
roots
shall
as
we
a consequence
confidence
uncertainty,
in her relationshipwith her mother,which combinesboth conflict and deepties.
In fiction andin reality thereis no denyingthe strengthof a mother'sinfluenceover her
daughter'slife: the more a daughtertries to deny this influence, the strongerits hold is
likely to be over her subconscious.In attemptingto achieveautonomy,feelingsof love and
hatefor the mothervie with one another,so that the daughteris boundto suffer one way
her
by
her
does
free
If
break
she
or another.
she pleases mother complying with
not
her
dependence
but
increasingly
the
time
as shegrows older.
at
same
she
wishes,
resents
If she does succeed in separating herself from the one person who loves her
her
love
hurting
is
by
fear
lose
this
there
the
that
mother,and
shemight
unconditionally,
Love
feel
her.
Bonds
begins
for
deserted
In
7he
have
to
of
guilty
she also
appearingto
(1990) JessicaBenjamin highlights the problemsa daughtermay encounterif fear of
separatingfrom the motherprevails, leadingto complianceand self-denialon the part of
the daughter:

141
To the extent that the mother has sacrificed her own

independence,the girl's attempt at independencewould


representan assertionof power for which shehasno basisin
identification. (

) The girl's senseof self is shapedby the


...

realization that her mother's source of power resides in her

self-sacrifice. For the girl the agonyof assertingdifference


is that she will destroy (internally) her mother, who is not

only an objectof love but alsoa mainstayof identity. Thus


she protects the all-good, all-powerful maternal object at the
price of compliance. Shebecomesunable to distinguish what

she wantsfrom what motherwants. The fear of separation


9
into submission.
and differencehasbeentransposed

We shall seethat Benjamin'sexplanationfor the daughter'ssubordinationto her motheris


bondin Mitgutsch'sDie Zachtigung,wherethe daughter
partly true of the daughter-mother
oesagontseover her mother'sself-sacrificeandalsorecognisesthat shecannotescapeher
mother'styranny. In suchsituationsthe daughteroftencreatesa 'false self' in order to be
her mother'sideal child.
As briefly mentioned,another traumatic aspectof the daughter'seffort to achieve
individuationis the senseof guilt sheexperiences
if shefails in her mother'sperceptionof
her duty as a "good daughter"and neglectsher motherin any way:

Guilt is the name we give anxiety at the fear of losing


symbiosiswith mother. Guilt is what we feel whenwe leave

142

her ourselves.All our lives, wheneverwe saygoodbye,there


is this feeling we havenot beenable to give her something
shewanted. (... ) Next time we meet,we promiseourselves
that we will try harder, we will be "a good daughter", we
will give her this magic somethingthat will make her happy.

But the next time we fail again,and after shedies we know


we have failed forever. "

Nancy Friday suggests that the word 'guilt' is being used by daughters in the wrong

context. They have,after all, committedno crime whenthey attemptto breakawayfrom


their mothers,but their mothershaveimbuedthemwith guilt feelingsto the extentthat it
is the daughter,who is afraid that shewill loseher motheras shetries to moveawayfrom
her towardsindependence.For somedaughterstheurgeto succeedin separatingfrom their
mothers,as they grow older, is suchthat they canbecomecallousin their filial behaviour,
have
to
refuse
anythingto do with their mothers,andendany communicationbetweenthem
in orderto escapethe mother'scontrol. However,the tie betweenmotheranddaughtercan
neverbe completelysevered,as theseworks of fiction illustrate. After interviewing 120
American women in the late seventiesfor her study of mother-daughterrelationships
entitled Our Mothers' Daughters(1979), JudithArcanaconcludedthat althoughdaughters
" This becomes
may reject their mothersconsciously,they still follow her subconsciously.
particularly noticeablewhen the daughterhas her own children, or when she has to
'mother' her own mother in old age and/or infirmity.

Such a role reversal will be

explainedin greaterdetail whenwe considerthe mother'sidentificationwith her daughter.


For now, though, it shouldbe stressedthat physicaldeparturefrom the mother will not

143
influence
break
bond
the
of
maternal
andcontrol gainedthroughgenerations
automatically
of mothers.
Friday commentson how commonit is nowadaysfor adult women to reject their
like
her:
be
individuals
do
to
to
that
they
not
want
mothersas
and claim

Traditionallywe felt safetyin beingascloselytied to mother,


fear
life
her
like
her
We
out of
as much
repeated
as possible.
that being different meant being separate, abandoned, the
listen
her
Today
to our
disapproval
we
object of
and anger.

lives
between
differences
look
our
the
new voices,
at
visible
and our mothers' and makethe mistakeof thinking we are
New Women who have given birth to ourselves. It is
We
level.
think
deception
we are
the
practising
maddest
on
behind
far
big,
us, people of
strong,
putting our mothers
denial.
In
form
is
dangerous
It
of
time.
a
anotherplaceand
fact real strengthwill comefrom an almostdaily reminderof
how much, on the deepestlevel, we are still our mothers'
12

daughters.

by
been
has
like
her
termed
This fear of resembling mother and becoming
"the
implies
fear
13
Rich
"matrophobia".
this
And as Adrienne
Lynn Sukenickas
explains,
desireto becomepurgedonceand for all of our mother'sbondage,to becomeindividuated
"
free".
and

It is a theme which does run through the daughter-motherrelationships

in
in
for
here.
Society
the
way which
also affects
portrayed the novelsselected analysis

144
the daughterinterpretsher closenessto her mother. Sincehistorically the positionof the
motherhas beenregardedas inferior and thereforedevaluedby societyas a whole, the
daughteris boundto comeup againstsuchexternal,negativecriticism which will colour
er innerjudgementof her mother. Hencethe comparison"you arejust like your mother"
is usu y expressedin a critical tone of voice and implies a negative similarity between

daughterandmother. If the daughterdoesnot succeedin becomingan autonomous


being,
this failure will probably be reflected in her marriage. As we saw in the daughter-father
relationship, the father can affect the daughter's choice of lover and/or husband. In the
daughter-motherrelationship the inability of the daughter to become independentsuggests

that shewill needto be dependenton the personshelovesbecausethatis what shehasbeen


her
husband,
to doing: shewill, therefore,transferthedependence,
to
accustomed
normally
her
motherdies. She, thereby,definesherselfin relation to him. Hence,another
after
negativeimplicationof the closerelationshipbetweenmotherand daughteris highlighted
by Hammer, who also underlinesthe cycle of repeateddependence
betweenthesetwo
from
women,
one generationto the next:

Abhngigkeit hat fr die soziale Rolle der Frau eine


besondereBedeutung;eine Tochter, die von ihrer Mutter
abhngigbleibt, wird ihr Abhngigkeitsbedrfnis
auf den
Ehemannbertragenunderwarten,dadie Tochterwiederum
abhngigvon ihr wird, womit sich der Kreis schliet. Das
Weiblichkeitstraining wirkt also der Entwicklung von
Bewutseinder eigenen Identitt des kleinen Mdchens

145
entgegen;da siein der Identittder Mutter aufgeht,bleibt sie
ihr nahe."

So far we haveconcentrated
identification
daughter's
the
the
with
on
negativeaspectsof
her mother, since these all point to the difficulties a daughter incurs in growing into an

independentindividual. They are more or less the samedifficulties which impededthe


formation
mother's
of a separateidentity, hence the negative aspectsdo tend to outweigh
the positive ones, such as learning to love unconditionally and to appreciatethat no other
relationship will ever be so closely entwined. The notion that mother and daughter nurture

each other, and are interdependenton one another, has already been hinted at in the
suggestionthat the roles of motheranddaughterare at timesreversible. For the daughter
this may be a defencemechanismin the face of criticism for remainingattachedto her
mother:

To buttressthe argumentthat we haveoutgrownthe needfor


mother,manyof us smileand saywe havereversedthe roles
ignores
is
in
This
'child'
the
the
mother
now
relationship.
the fact that the tie, the link through dependency,is still
there. Just becausewe're now mother's protector doesn't

"
meanwegreseparate.

In the 1940sSimonede Beauvoir'sstudyof womenculminatedin the now internationally


renowned77ieSecondSex(1949), in which she too referred to the frequencywith which
a daughterwould reverseher role with her mother's on accountof her imitation and

146
identificationwith her."

Certainly the three novelsdo underpinthe fact that suchrole

reversalsstill occur in this day andageand are inherentin the symbioticrelationship. It


is worth notingat this stage,beforeanalysingthe mother'sidentificationwith her daughter,
that psychologists' definition of 'identification' do vary, and usually fall into three

it
feels
behaves
like
be
like
the
to
the
a
child
wants
parent;
or
categories:
parent;a child
18
to
the
closest
parent. All threedefinitionscould be perceivedas havinga positivering
to them and do not appear to be appropriate for the identification patterns which have

emergedbetweendaughterand mother. The implicationis that the male child has some
choice, somecontrol, becausehe is allowed freedomto explore his identity, whilst the
identity of the femalechild seemspredeterminedandinevitable.
Such conditioningarisesfrom the mother's own uncertaintyabout her independence
becauseshetoo will havebeenconditionedby the expectations
of her mother,her husband
frustration
is
her
She
likely
to
and
pent-upresentment
and societyas a whole.
convey
initially
daughter,
being
her
her
to
she
will
whom
undervalued, self-doubt,
about
young
identity:
female
her
her
double
her
to
transmits
role as a woman,
and whom she
view as

The daughteris for the motherat onceher doubleandanother


person,the motheris at onceoverweeninglyaffectionateand
hostile towardsher daughter;she will saddleher child with
her own destiny: a way of proudly laying claim to her own
femininity and also a way of revengingherself for it. ()
Becauseshe knows as yet only her childhooduniverse,her
mother at first seemsto her to be endowed with more
kind
be
her
father;
imagines
to
than
the
a
authority
world
she

147
of matriarchate;sheimitates her mother and identifies herself

with her; frequentlysheevenreversestheir respectiveroles:


'WhenI am big, andyou arelittle
likes to sayto her
she
.....
"
mother.

At the outsetthe daughteris perceivedas an ally, sincethe mother'sidentificationis so


strong that she wants her daughter to be just like her: it is as if the female infant is an
extensionof herself, at the same time she confirms the identity of the mother. It is little
wonder, therefore, that the mother will be reluctant to let her daughter go becauseit will
adverselyaffect her own senseof identity, which only really finds its purposeof existence
in the daughter through whom the mother will live her life. Furthermore, the daughter's
dependenceon the mother provides the mother with "her only source of emotional

10
hence
female
her
her.
definitely
Through
lose
to
she
security",
child the
will
not wish
mothergainscontrolanda senseof superiority. For this reason,asChodorowconvincingly
it
is
in
from
becoming
interest
daughter
her
the
to
autonomous;
mother's
argues,
prevent
CRI
she will want the daughter to always have a childlike dependenceon her becausethis will

ensurethat the woman'spositionas a motheris significantlypowerful and influential.


it
finds
Paradoxically,then, the motheris relying on her daughter'sdependence:
she
have
difficult
from
her
daughter.
Many
to
therapists
separate
psychoanalysts
and
equally
discoveredthat mothersand daughtersview the physical boundariesbetweenthem as
virtually non-existent,such is the extent to which their egos intermingle and are\,
" Thus motherand daughterrisk the dangerof becomingoneidentity:
interdependent.

148
Nur zu oft bleibt die BeziehungzwischenTochter und Mutter

in jenem ungeklrtenZustand,in dem es der Mutter nicht


gelingt, sich von der Tochter zu lsen, und die Tochter es
nicht fertigbringt,sichausder IdndlichenAbhnigkeitvon der
Mutter zu befreien. In der Tochter wird sie dann bis zu
einem gewissenGrade ihr eigenesKindheits-Ich von neuem
erleben und auch die Identitt mit ihrer Mutter, wie sie sie in
der Kindheit bernommen hat; sie wird also zugleich ihre
eigeneMutter und ihr eigenesKind. "

In her relationshipwith her daughter,the mother,thus, relives her relationshipwith her


own mother - such is the continuity and destiny of this bond - and it may offer her the

chanceof resolvingconflicts. It is, therefore,possiblethat somewomenbecomemothers


23 This is particularlythe
so that they canexperienceagainthe feelingof beingmothered.
casefor daughters,who believethat the baby will provide the love they did not receive
from

eir mothers. Due to the strong sense of identification a mother may also,

subconsciously,
pressuriseher daughterinto becominga motherbecausethe daughterwill
interpret this as remaining attachedto her mother by following in her footstepsand
becominglike her, and so stayingloyal to her role-model:

Sometimesa daughterwill becometoo much a part of the


mother's life which she cannot relinquish. Becausethe
mother is lonely and unfulfilled, she clings to the daughter,

as thoughshewerea part of herself. To ward off feelingsof

149
emptiness,shewon't let the daughtergo. Unconsciously, the

daughterfeelsthe mother'sPanicat being left. Leavingthe


mother,growingup, equalsbetrayalandabandonment
of the
24
mother.

As the daughtergrows older, it is conceivablethat her flourishing femininity will be


interpreted as competition by the mother, a threat to her identity as a woman. She may
be
even regardedas a traitor rather than a confidantebecausethe daughterwill be wanting
to break away to develop her individuality. It is then that the seedsof conflict begin to
in
number and strength. As already indicated, there is the likelihood that the
grow

sheremainsthedominant
mother'sauthoritywill be undermined.By denyingindependence
one. She may becomejealous of her daughter,if she does achievesome form of
independence;jealous also of her daughter's future and her own declining years.'

This is

however,
daughters
in
behave
to
that
that
the
say,
are
same
way
nor
all
not
all mothers
forcedto choosebetweendependence/motherhood
andautonomy,andhurting the mother.
rfbe issueswhich havebeenraisedmerely illustrate how complex and intricately interwoven

the relationshipbetweenmotheranddaughteris. in her reviewof CloseCompany(1987),


a compilationof shortstoriesabouttherelationshipsbetweenmothersanddaughtersaround
the world, PennyPerrick presentsa very fatalisticview of the behaviourof mothersand
daughterstowardsoneanother:

The battlebetweenmothersand daughters,a battle in which


both are engaged as long as they both shall live, is both
remorselessand futile. Every daughter knows that she will

ISO

end up like her mother and yet she fights for a spurious sense

identity.
Every motherknowsthat shewantsher daughter
of
to havea betterlife thanshehadhadandyet shedoesall she
can to prevent her daughter from maldng a dash for
26

freedom.

Although such a description of the relationship may be applied in extreme cases,it does
deny women their individuality and must, consequently,be regarded as an insult. The
"battle" to which Perrick refers, should perhaps more appropriately be termed an
9emotionalstruggle', because,as has been illustrated, any conflict between mother and

daughteralwaysinvolvesemotionsratherthanreasonandis, therefore,unresolvable.The
daughtersportrayedin fiction reachthe sameconclusion. Certainly,the inevitability of a
daughterbecominga clone of her mother would seemdoubtful, if other factors, suchas her

father, brothersand sisters,friendsand education,are takeninto account,and especially


in
does
daughter
Nor
freedom
the
the
nowadayswith emphasison
of women general.
is
doubt
Without
through
the
mother's self
achieveautonomy merely
physical separation.

in
introduction
her,
his
Michael
Moeller
to Barbara
that,
out
within
so
mirrored
as
points
Franck'sIch schau' in denSpiegelundsehemeineMutter (1979),the daughterhasto deal
intellectually with her own identity before she can handle the emotional conflict
successfully:in otherwords, shehasto be sureof her own self-image:

Die Mutter ist zum eigenenIch geworden. Sie ist gar nicht
mehr nur drauen, sondern in mir selbst. Deshalb hi

in

der
Mutter,
Jahren
Auseinandersetzung
mit
spteren
nicht eine

151
sondern mit sich selbst. Man kann die Mutter nicht
loswerden,indem man sich uerlichvon ihr trennt - so
wichtig dieser Schritt nach den Puberttsjahrenfr die
17
Identitt
aktuelle eigene
sein mag.

Seekingconfidencein one's own self is reiteratedby thesedaughterswho in fictional


form describetheir relationshipswith their mothers. Detailed, analytical reflection is their
discovering
their identities; at the sametime theseworks illustrate what analysts
of
method
healthy
in
fact
development
to
the
as
crucial
regard
relationship,
mother-daughter
now
of a
individuality.
for
human
As
relationships,
namely
one
another's
recognition and respect
all

Benjaminpoints out, "the child's ability to recognizethe motheras a personin her own
is
as significant a goal as separation"and vice versa, the mother on whom the
right,
28
learn
daughterhasdepended
daughter's
to
the
must
autonomy. Furthermore,there
accept
be
from
in
both
their attitude towards their son.
encouragement
should
parents, as
Accordingto JaneFlax, for theyounggirl "the rift betweenidentifyingwith the motherand
being oneselfcan only be closedwithin a relationshipin which one is nurturedfor being

29
in
books
As
become
from
the
three
self"
underscrutiny
will
evident
one9sautonomous .
betweenmotherand daughterhavenot beenresolvedby
this chapter,if the ambivalences,
the time the daughterreachesadulthood,then the writing processfor thesewomenaids
their understandingand appreciationof their mothersas separatepersons,and thereby
for
following
Gale
Chevigny's
Bell
Hence
starting-point
self-recognition.
provides a
female
the
writer's concernand purposein writing abouther mother:
commentpinpoints

152
The symbiotic quality of the relation betweenmother and
daughter,whetherwe acceptit or reject it, is suchthat it is
difficult for us to know one another both intimately and
clearly. Our difficulty in knowingour mothersdominatesus
as daughtersand, to someextent, blocks our growth and self-

knowledge. I am convincedthat when,as daughterswriting,


we are moved to study a foremother, we are grappling with
some aspect of this ignorance which is so costly to

10
ourselves.

In Wohmann'sAusflug mit der Mutter the narratordoes,indeed,appearto revealthe


hiddenintentionof eachof thesewomenwriters, whensheconfessesthat "SchreibenOber
die Mutter ist die einzige Mglichkeit, ber den Kopf der Mutter weg mit mir selbst
"
(A.
63).
M.
It will becomeapparentthat eachwriter doesintersperse
zurechtzukommen"
her interpretationof her mother'slife with her searchfor a self-image,so that Virginia
Woolf's belief that "we think backthroughour mothersif we are women", first expressed
in 1928,is revivedandexpandeduponby thesecontemporarywriters." The narrator-cumdaughterin Mitgutsch'sDie Zikhtigung, for instance,comments:"Wenn wir versuchen,
definieren,
fassen
Worten
wenn
uns
andere
suchen,greifen wir auf unsere
zu
mit
uns
zu
MOtterzurOck"(Z. 183)." In manycontemporaryautobiographical,
quasi-autobiographical
or confessionalnovelsby women,the daughterdoeshaveto defineherselfin termsof her
in
develop
her
independence.
to
Works by Margaret Atwood, Margaret
order
mother
Drabble and Alice Munro, amongstothers, are indicative of the psychologicaljourneys
daughtersundertaketo achieveseparationfrom their mothersand break free from their

153
' By writing about their mothersand their relationshipswith them, these
dependence.
daughtersconfronttheir own insecurities,their ambivalences
to make
andforcethemselves
in
ich
deep-rooted
fange
fears:
dann
"Warum
these
their
anxieties
spite
of
of
an zu
sense
immer
ich
ihr
immer
ich
Worten
mich
wann
mit
stottern,
nhere, wann
sie als Spiegel
benutzen mchte, um mich selbst schrfer zu sehen?" (Z. 133). As will be shown, the

uneasyprocessof writing may well indicatea form of self-therapyand self-affirmation.


By malcing predominant use of the first-person narrative, these writers illustrate how an

begins
daughter
to realisethe extentto which her past has beendominatedby her
adult
how
has
learn
her
to
that
to
she
and
presentcontinuesto
acknowledge
and
accept
mother,
be influencedby that samewoman. This is despitethe fact that the motherhasbeendead
for sixteenyears(Die Z17chtigung),
that the daughteris working elsewhereand no longer
living at home(Kartenhaus),that the daughteris marriedandhasa career(Ausflugmit der
Mutter). Thesewritersthusshowthattotal separationfrom the motheris impossible.Even
death, as previously illustrated in the daughter-fatherrelationship, cannot destroy the
because
incorporated
in
daughter's
is
both
the
the
so
much
of
own
self,
mother
attachment
far
daughter
in
The
Mitgutsch's
and
psychologically.
novel
goes
so
as to suggest
physically

that shebelongedto her motherbecauseshecreatedher identity, so that when her mother


imagine
died, she also died: their interdependence
that
she
could
not
surviving
was such
her
mother:
without

Sie hat sich in mich verwandelt,sie hat mich geschaffenund


ist in mich hineingeschlpft,als ich gestorbenbin vor
hat vor dreiig
sechzehnJahren,als sie mich totgeschlagen

154
Jahren, hat sie meinen Krper genommen, hat sie meine

Gedankenan sich gerissen,hat sie meineGefhleusurpiert.


(Z. 246)

There are a number of areas in which the adult daughter seesherself still identifying

her
mother. One such area is the daughter'sbehaviour and attitude towards
with
In
Schriber's
Kartenhaus the daughter, Hanna, realises that her
with
men.
relationships

insecurity
has
led
inability
her
independent
in
be
to
to
totally
as
child
a
of
adulthood:
sense

Ich wurde lebenstchtiggemacht fr ein Leben an der Seite

eines Mannes. Jetzt, da ich mich selber schtzenund


durchsetzenmu, fllt es mir schwer nicht immerzu bei
jemandemRat and Halt zu suchen. (K.H. 125-126?'

At the ageof forty sheis unmarried. Shehas not fulfilled the traditional expectationof
becominga wife and has, therefore,brokenthe cycle. However,it doesnot appearto be
fact
in
because
is
is
Plessen'sMittellung an
the
that
step
not
as
she
still
single
a positive
den Adel a rebellious act or even one of choice, but illustrates the effect the father's
divorce
departurefrom the family homehadon the daughter,andher parents'subsequent
daughter's
in
have
the
the
and
also
shaped
way
opinion
of
which mencould
marriage
must
treat women. Schriberportraystwo womenacrosstwo generationswhosepositionwithin
the family circle andin societyin generalcontinuesto be weakandunstable.The daughter
is able to recall the life of domesticservitudeher motherhad, whilst her husbandlived at
home. Sheremainedin the background,lived in fear and was alwaysat the beckand call

155
of her husband. As a woman she did not know any other life, for her own childhood had

beendominatedby a powerful fatherwho imposedstrictness,which was akin to violence.


When seatedat the dinner table he would strike his daughter'shandswith a knife if she
for
he
Often,
no
apparent
reason,
would refuse to speak to either his wife or
moved.
daughtersfor a whole month. Thus Hanna's mother developedinto a shy and introverted

by
her
daughter
At
her
When
the
twenty-seven
age
of
she
married.
questioned
about
girl.,
for
marrying, she can only reply that her husband-to-bemade her laugh and was
reasons

did
She
know
for
had
talker.
the
not
consenting
and
never really
reason actually
a good
him
from
She
him,
beginning.
the
admired
marriage.
of
right
yet
was
afraid
considered
There was no mention of love. On a number of occasionsHanna comments upon her

being
brought
her
in
that
the
she
was
mould
as
mother; that she, too,
same
up
awareness
"
forbidden
her
dependent
be
Since
to
on
men.
express
wishesand
shewasalready
would
bleak.
her
her
future
her
In
thoughts
as
a
seemed
younggirl,
gameswith
prospects
voice
Max, the only playmatementionedin the book, who drownsduring one of their visits to
families,
happy
Mother
Maria
Theresia,
pretendingthat she
the grotto of
shewould play at
husband
had
Together
Max
they would act out their
two
and
wife
and
children.
were
and
be
life:
Hanna
Max
typical
to
a
married
go
out
of
couple's
work,
would
would
perspective
followed
lunch
Sundays
by a walk to the
have
housewife
they
and on
the
would
a special
lake with their children. Hannawould draw a housein the sandwhich, as a result of
Max's boredom,would be wiped awayby him. Thus, evenin this world of make-believe
Hanna'sideal family and idyllic homelifecould not survive.
once the daughterdid actuallyleavehome,shewaslikely to be vulnerableon account
father
her
in
had
from
lack
learnt
her
the
of self-confidence,and what she
way which
of
had treatedher motherwhenat home,and the way he couldjust walk away from his wife

156
his
daughter's
daughter
and
choose
another
of
woman
age to love, thus shattering the
and

daughter'schildhoodvision of a perfectmarriage. At the ageof forty this daughtercannot


confidein her motherabouther own unhappyrelationshipwith a marriedman,who intends
to return to his wife having realised how much his wife loves him. The implication is that
this daughter will not succeedin maintaining a steady relationship becauseshe had never

between
felt
her
had
loved by them,
such
a
relationship
parents,nor
she ever
witnessed
hence it would seem unlikely that she would be able to reciprocate love in later

have
family
her
and
a
of
own:
relationships

Es gibt keine innigen Augenblicke, in die wir

alle

eingeschlossen
sind. Ich habevielleicht nie ein Gefhl von
Familie gehabt,oder ich habees irgendwannverloren.
(K.H. 151)

On the one hand, the adult daughteris able to identify with her motherbecauseshe, too,
is living alone with her memories;on the other hand, she has broken the cycle of
her
because
has
daughter
to
she
pass
on
gender
she
no
children,
whom
will
no
motherhood
identity. Shehasno intentionof letting history repeatitself. Her decision,though,as we
haveseen,is basedon bad experiencesand suffering:

ich
Nach so vielen JahrenAllein-am-Tisch-Essen
werde
wie
sie ber den Tisch hngen. Aber keine Tochter wird mit
kaltem Blick

jede

meiner Bewegungen kontrollieren.

Niemand wird mich an meine frheren Leben erinnern.

157
Meine Tage werden von Figuren statt von Menschen

bevlkertsein. (K.H. 143)

Schriber's novel, thus, illustrateshow the mother's submissiverole as a child and as an


by
her
daughter.
been
has
absorbed
adult
In Die Zilchtigungthe daughteris shownto repeather mother'sbehaviourtowardsmen
in her adult relationships. The situation is the reverse of the one depicted in Kartenhaus,
for in Mitgutsch's novel it is the mother who possessespower, and the father is weak and

is
his
just
indifferent.
Again
there
to
to
wife,
or
no evidenceof
possibly
unable standup
love betweenhusbandand wife in the daughter'srecollections. The daughter,Vera, sees
how her motheris ableto slapher husbandacrossthe facewithout any responsefrom him:

Sie lehrte mich die Mnnerverachtung. Mnner brauchen


Ohrfeige.
ihm
Ich
Einmal
Hand.
eine
sie
gab
eine starke
hielt den Atem ein, abernichtsgeschah. (... ) Ich lernte die
Einsamkeit von ihr und da die Ehe ein Statusist, der einem

migenSchutzgewhrt,nicht eine Gemeinschaftzwischen


(Z.
149-150)
Menschen.
zwei

is
in
be
loved,
inability
love
for
disregard
the
to
'inherited'
and
reflected the
men,and
This
her
in
life
her
for
do
that
daughter's
the
she
changes
men who
enter
contempt
adult
be
115)
(Z.
to
Hemden"
the
not only temporary,
"Liebhaberwie
and expects relationship
love,
been
had
brought
to
of
but alsoviolent, sinceshe
up understandpunishmentas a sign
family.
in
history
this
be
the
portrayed
of child abuse
explainedwhenwe consider
as will

158
For now it is necessaryto observe that in this novel Mitgutsch is intent upon illustrating
finds
herself
daughter
the
the
that
the cyclical nature of
mother-daughterrelationship, so
"the
behaviour
Kecht
her
Maria-Regina
towards
out:
points
also
men, as
mother's
reliving
in
hopelessly
be
her
is
doomed
to
a cycle of
to reproduce
caught
heroine
mother,
37
identity":
transmitted

fort.
den
Tchtern
in
der
Mtter setzt sich
Aber das Schicksal
jetzt
bist
Kind,
Einmal kommt die Mutter und sagt, so, mein
du
Ich
Leben.
dir
ich
jetzt
du alt genug,
schrie,
mein
zeige

liebst mich nicht, du Schwein, und sah das verquollene


GesichtmeinerMutter, ich sahmit entsetztenAugen,wie sie
der
Mann,
ins
Vater
mit
Gesicht
meinem
spuckte,abereswar
dem ich lebte, der sich den Speichelabwischteund mir ins
Gesichtschlug. (Z. 10)

in
her
daughter's
her
The
mother are,
recollections of
upbringing and relationship with
fact, instigated by her own twelve-year-old daughter's question: "War deine Mutter so wie
du?" (Z. 5). The narrator respondsby denying any resemblance,yet the memories prove
be
does
daughter
future
her
to
her
appear
relationship with
own
the contrary, and
father's
has
her
lack
influence
Due
in
her
to
a
of
no
need
she
of
upbringing
predestined.
baby
her
life,
father
her
her
in
the
the
after
especially
out
on
when
of
child walked
man
it
is
her
her
daughter
But
born.
now
young
of not providing a proper
who
accuses
was
blames
her
family
for
insecurity.
feelings
her
Thus,
the
and
unity
mother
of
of
sense
bond,
the
the
again
experiences
conflicting
once
ambivalences
of
mother-daughter
narrator

159
identifies
full
She
her
her
has
circle.
come
with
as
mother's
attitude
a
result
of
which
has
herself
become
female
like
her
a
and
she
mother
of
a
child
who,
own
upbringing,
her
failures
highlight
be
her
future:
the
time
and
at
same
mother,will

Ich habesie sechzehnJahrelang immer von neuembegraben,

sie ist -immer wieder aufgestandenund ist mir nachgekommen. Sie hat nich schon lange eingeholt. Sie sieht
in
den
246)
Augen
(Z.
Kindes
mich
meines
an.

Wohmann'snarratorsimilarly commentson thebelief thatneithermothernor daughterwill


die becausethe female identification process is so strong that it guaranteestheir
immortality: "In Wahrheitaberkommeich dochvon der Gewiheitnicht los, daauchsie,
38

ist"
ich,
(A.
54).
M.
unsterblich
sie wie

In Kartenhausthe motherrefers a numberof times to her relationshipwith her own


Similar
how
having
her
thoughts
the
she
often.
cross
regrets
not
visited
more
and
mother
her
infrequent
it
is
her
Yet
to
to
the mother of
mother.
regard
mind
with
visits
narrator's

Hannawho envisagesa better future for her daughterand now lives her life throughher
daughter,wantingto makeamendsfor the poor relationshipshehad had with her mother
better
be
As
Jenny
Cozens
to
a
mother.
points out, a past mother-daughter
and wanting
inevitably
because
have
be
"Just
does
to
your mother was
not
repeated:
relationship
it
doesn't
be
follow
to
turn
that
towards
out
an unloving mother
you,
you'll
also
unloving
39
her"
to
This
be
trying
the
to
notion
of
way
you
relationshiPs
used
with
or a slavein
.
in
hope
daughter's
that
improve on a past mother-daughter
the
may
she
relationshipand
foregone
destroy
through
the
apparently
generations
of
repetition
conclusion
even
way
some

160
is
by
intention
Mitgutsch's
has
breaking
the
stressed
narrator,
who
of
women
every
of

cycle:

Liebe Oma, du httest nicht einmal mein Kind geliebt, sage


ich (

) und lache, weil ich die Macht habe, die Kette zu


...

unterbrechenund alles ungltig zu machen, das Abendgebet


und den Gehorsam, die Angst und vielleicht sogar den Ha.
(Z. 104)

This is already evident from the fact that sheconsciouslydoesnot smackher daughter. For

this mother this seemsa major step forward in introducing change, since it was her
beating
bonded
their relationship
and
and
excessive
punishing
characterised
which
mother's
her
But
daughter
and
victim.
regardsthis absenceof smackingas nothing
of oppressor
instead
for
harmonious
blames
her
not
providing
a
natural,
mother
she
unusual,as quite
family environmentin a permanenthomewith a father. The realisationby the narratorthat
her daughteris unhappy, is sufficient proof that she has not broken the cycle. The conflict,

between
level
daughter.
continues
mother
on
and
not
physical,
a
psychological
although
Accordingto therapiststhe patternsof the pastare particularlyvisible in child abusecases:
"You can decideconsciouslynot to be like your mother,but in times of stressyou may
10
becomes
being
familiar
Vera
find
to
the
so
obsessed
pattern".
with
reverting
yourself
well
'a goodmother', so concernedaboutnot makingthe samemistakesas her motherdid, that
done
her
daughter.
However
has
does
to
this
continuous
see
what
self-analysis
not
she
it
form
her
had
her
been
been,
had
mother's
punishment
a
of perverse
of
severeandcruel
is
her
life
Having
her
to
the
view
on
able
past
narrator
reflected
with
mother,
attention.
I

161
her presentrelationship with her daughtercritically and acknowledgethat she has not been

influence.
her
discard
Her thoughtshadbeenof her motherandnot of her
to
mother's
able
isolatedher child andcausedher to be lonely,
daughter;her introspectionhadconsequently
just as shehadbeen:

Der Kampf zwischenuns war stumm und gewaltlos, aber


nicht weniger schuldwoll, nicht einmal frei von Ha. ()

Du ziehstdich zurck,undnur wenigeknnendich erreichen,


ich
sehezu, stumm,hilflos und beschmt. Es ist mir
und
nicht gelungen, die Kette zu unterbrechen. Ich bin auch hier

die Tochter meinerMutter geblieben. (Z. 156)"

It is the narrator'sfailure to bring happinessto her daughter'slife which is indicativeof


her own miserablechildhood. And it is this awarenessof somehowhaving let down the
identified,
dominate
the
you
and
sense
which
all these
whom
of
culpability,
with
person
daughter-mother relationships, penetrating each generation, and could, therefore, be

female
because
doubts
lead
her
traits
they
to
about
a woman's
worth and
regardedas
in
home
both
the
and at work.
competence,
Feelingsof guilt andinsecuritypervadethesethreenarratives,whetherwe focuson the
frequently
is
daughter:
indistinguishable.
This
their
the
emotions
are
particularly
motheror
becomes
daughter
the
a mother. In consideringthe role of motherstoday
the casewhen
JaneSwigarthighlightsthe fact that mothersprofoundlyinfluencetheir children'slives by
feelings
behaviour.
Little
then,
that
the
and
on
guidance
motherconveys
wonder,
providing

162
her insecuritiesby exampleto her daughter,who in turn doesthe sameto her children,
daughter
feel
insecure
her
in her femininity:
who
will,
as
a
result,
especially

Guilt. Uncertainty. Trying to do it better this time around.


Trying to give more. Trying to be a better mother than

Mother was. In spiteof suchfeelingsor becauseof them, the


guilt that many mothers feel is endlessand tyrannical. Guilt

for providingtoo muchattentionor not enough,for giving the


freedom
for
too
much
child
or not enough, spankingor not
feelings
these
spanldngare common yet often hidden. ()

If we felt no guilt, we might neverbe movedto correct and


learn from our mistakes. But the maternalmea culpa, mea
culpa,meamaximaculpais surelyexcessive;motherstendto
blamethemselvesfor everything.42

And if the mother does not initially blame herself then her daughter will certainly blame

her, asDie Zachtigungillustrates. However,as will be explainedlater in this chapter,one


is
for
daughter
the
that
the
portraying
mother-daughter
the
relationship
wishes
reasons
of
lengths
Wohmann's
justify
her
to
to
this
conscience.
great
guilty
narrator
goes
to appease
is
Hence
Swigart's
during
that
the
of
suggestion
process
writing.
guilt
primarily
portrayal
is
feature
the
these
to
note
questionable,
especially
extent
when
which
we
maternal
a
daughtersexperienceguilt, in retrospect,with regardto their treatmentof their respective
for
in
daughter,
indicated
discussion
The
the
the
cause
of
guilt
earlier
of
main
as
mothers.
is
daughter's
desire
become
Whilst
the
the
to
autonomous.
attachment,
mother-daughter

163
break
free
from
her
dependence
her
feels
daughter
to
tries
still
she
also
on
mother,
adult
in
is
her.
der
if
The
Ausflug
Mutter
narrator
mit
actually refers to
abandoning
she
as
herselfas an "'Ob6flider", feelingguilty wheneversheleavesher motheron her own: "Ich
ich
liebe
In
Abschied.
Der
Mutter.
Begrung
meiner
spre
meinen
meine
warme
umarme
ist
doch
das
ich
das
Verlassenste,
(A.
117).
Krper
M.
The
pltzlich
wei"
gutgenhrte

her
daughter
the
to
mother
standing
with
alone,
goodbye
andson-inwaving
narrativeopens
law as they drive away. The visit had had particular significance becauseit had been the

first anniversaryof the father'sdeath. The solitary figure of the motherbeing left on her
in
heart
Her
the
the
a
chord
and
conscience
of
narrator.
memorycapturesthis
strikes
own
her
finds
it
her
in
to
that
to
to
explain
she
attachment
on
a
way
necessary
go
such
scene

in
As
long
to
their
there
thereby
relationship.
attempting
as
reconcile
any
conflict
mother,
is this senseof guilt on the part of the daughter,shewill remaintied to her mother:

My intellect tells me the guilt I feel wheneverI say goodbye


to her has nothingto do with what I did or didn't do. My
mother is a reasonablyhappy woman, other people would
been
I've
a reasonabi
say.
y gooddaughter,my motherwould
free
be
But
I
I
not
of
unfit
understand
my
will
say.
guilt,
her."

in Die b1chtigungthe mothereventhreatensher daughtertwice with suicide, thus using


imagine
living
her
daughter
from
home.
She
leaving
blackmail
to
cannot
prevent
emotional
her
losing
her
"Lebenswerk"
therefore,
the
the
and,
of
existence,
extension
purpose
without
du
double:
"Wenn
fortgehst,
her
bringt
das
her
mich um, sie wiederholtees
persona,
of

164
ich
fhlte
brauchte
(Z.
es
nicht
zu
wiederholen,
mich
sie
auch
so
schuldig
genug"
nicht,
227). Ironically therehadbeentimeswhenthe daughterhad wishedher motherdead,so
felt
doubly
ber
did
die
daughter
for
having
left
the
that when she
guilty:
motherand for
having wished for her death." Throughout her childhood she had also been made to feel
for
her.
her
her
by
Reflecting
trouble
any
mother
she
caused
on
mother's death the
guilty

her
hence
her
to
that
this,
she
missed
chance
rectify
anxiousconcernsover
realises
narrator
her present relationship with her daughter. But, as noted in Chapter One, guilt is an

by
bereaved
just
daughters.
however,
Here,
the
all
experienced
persons,
not
often
emotion
interdependence
by
identities:
is
heightened
the
of
emotion

Als sie tot war, wollte ich nicht mehrweiterleben. ( ) Ich


...
fhlte mich wie ein Krppel ohne Krcken. ( ) Meine
...
Mutter hat sichfr mich aufgeopfert,sagteich, meineMutter
ich
ihrem
(
)
bin
Ich
Tod
schrieb
schuld,
war mir alles. ...
an
in mein Tagebuch. (Z. 9Y1

For all threedaughtersguilt is borneout of insecurityandfear of losing the mother,the


is
looked
When
tied.
the
to
she
symbiotically
we
at
relationships
whom
person
one
betweendaughtersand fathersthe predominantcausesof insecuritywere lack of love and
in
The
to
the
relationships
still
applies
as
same
mother-daughter
presented
understanding.
be
love
is
both
Vera
Although
to
the
the
unconditional,
of
mother
supposed
thesenovels.
for
love
have
Hanna
to
achievements:
affection
and
earn
see
as
a
reward
and

165
Ich war ihr dankbarfr ihre Liebe, die ich so seltenzu fhlen

bekam,aber es war ja meineSchuld, da ich sie so selten


verdiente, und ich

drckte meine Dankbarkeit in

Bastelarbeitenaus, die ich ihr zum Muttertag schenkte, in


Zeichnungenund Gedichten. (Z. 136-137)

Liebe war schlielich ein dnner, kmmerlicher Ersatz, Lob

Leistung.
und unbestimmteZrtlichkeit fr ausgezeichnete
Liebe kaufte man sich durch Selbstverleugnung,
gute Noten
bererfllung
der Erwartungen. (Z. 150)
und

During her childhoodHanna displaysa need to achieveand succeed,to prove herself


deservingof love: "SichMhegeben,um zu gefallen,dieseRegelhat sich mir eingeprgt"
(K.H. 138). Sheattemptsto obtainher parents'attentionby demonstratingher knowledge
her
by
during
She
to
aloud
names
on
signs
prove
ability
read
reading
road
them.
would
to
her
She
impress
in
to
to
the
calculate
car.
would
sums
aloud
cleverness
exhibit
and
trips

his
family's
father,
believed
in
blood.
her
"Rechnen"
The
who
was
adult
above all
daughtercomesto the conclusionthat she must have failed in earningher parents' love
becauseshecanonly rememberreceivingattentionfrom themwhenevershewas ill or had
injuredherself. Her fatherwould administerthedressing,whilst her mothercomfortedher.
incapable
love
being
demonstrativelytowards
n,-,th parentsare portrayedas
-.
of expressing
their daughter:

166
Ich wurde gemaregelt,gelobt, getadelt, ermutigt,

angehalten,aufgefordert. Ein Kanon befehlenderStimmen


begleitetemeineKindheit und schiedmeine Wnsche,
meineTrume, meineEmpfindungen, meineTaten in Gut und
B6se. (K. H. 143)

The warmth she did not receive from her parents she sought from the dogs her father
Whilst
her
father
defenceless
hunting.
for
watching
shoot
a
sparrow, Hanna feels
owned

faint becauseshe realisesthat, like the bird, she is totally helpless:"DiesesGefahl von
Ohnmacht hat mich nie verlassen" (K. H. 163). Evidence of the daughter's need for the

is
illustrated
fulfil
is
by
her
Hanna's
frequent
this
to
unable
who
need,
mother,
of
safety
having
film
dreams
After
is
Disney
Bwnbi
fawn
the
that
the
she
watched
she
nightmares.
her
fear
being
Bambi,
from
that
the
thus
of
of
running
alone
with
away
compares
and
hunter- here her father - andcrying out for her mother:

Und Bambis Angst war meine Angst. Mir galten die Fallen,

ich
bohrten
die
in
die
Stmme,
Schsse
sich
mute
mir
neben
durchs eisige Wasser schwimmen, ich rief nach meiner
Mutter. Ich war es, die allein auf der Insel standund mich
konnte.
(
)
Gewehrlauf
Der
war
auf
verbergen
nirgends
...
'156'
(K.
Und
der
H.
Vater
Jger.
mein
war
mich gerichtet.

father
is
daughter
fears,
it
the
fact
the
that
whom
The
on accountof his disciplineand the
household,
his
departure
has
the
he
the
makes
all
more significant
permanent
over
control

167
in its effect on her becauseit increasesher uncertaintyabouthis behaviourtowardsher and
her mother. Tangiblefear is replacedby fear of the future and the unknownwithout a
figure of authorityin the home.
The title Kartenhausis symbolicof the insecuritythe daughterand motherexperience
father
leaves
likelihood
The
in
them.
the
the
of
caving
on them was already
walls
after

from
direct
home,
the
to
the
reference
narrator's
childhood
which wasphysically
apparent
.us:
in a state of decay: "Wir lebten in einem faulenden, hohlen, zerbrselndenHaus" (K. H.
Schriber depicts a mother-daughterrelationship which appearsto be held together by
the common denominator of the house. The housecould be interpreted as a metaphor for

their life together,on their own, completelyreliant on oneanotherwithin the confinements


in
highlights
house
four
Marianne
Burkhard
theme
the
the
the
of
predominant
walls.
of
Swisswomen'sliteraturesincethe 1970s. Sheanalysesa numberof works by Elisabeth
Meylan, Margrit Schriber,Maja Beutlerand GertrudWilker and comesto the conclusion

that

due
late
themselves
to the
assert
as
writers
relatively
women
specific, historical continuity of traditional life patterns in
Switzerland. And oncea larger numberof womenemerges,
they show a surprising unity in topical and symbolic
orientationtoward all forms of housesand placesas closely
structuredliving-spacesthat define and confine existential
'
possibilities.

168
The motif of the houseis typical of contemporarySwisswomen'sliterature, wherebythe
Swisswoman'ssocialrole hashistoricallybeendefinedby enclosureandprosperity,which
in turn createa senseof security,describedby Mary Stewartas a "Swissdisease"48 This
.
is very much the case in Kartenhaus, when we note that the mother since marriage has
lived all her life in the samehouseand is content to shut herself away and be left in peace:

Wir betraten nie andere Huser.

Es war nicht Brauch

einander zu besuchen. Wir trafen die Nachbarn am


Gartentor,auf dem Weg zum Laden, zur Kirche oder zum
Bahnhof.

Nur bei Krankenbesuchenhuschte jemand ins

Zimmer, legte Blumenauf die Deckeund verschwand. Bei


Kondolenzbesuchen,
standendie Nachbarnfr die Dauereines
bestandin Fragen
Gebetsvor demSarg. GuteNachbarschaft
berdenZaunodervon Fensterzu Fenster,in einer Schssel
durch
dem
der
Ruf
die
Obst
Eiern
Trschwelle,
mit
oder
auf
hingestellt.
Haustr,
habe
(K. H. 185-186)
man
offene
etwas

only onereferenceis madeto "Kartenhaus"in the text, which alludesto the devastating
from
had
daughter:
departure
house
father's
his
the
the
and
on
wife
effect

Und Mutters fieberhaftesMhen um die Erhaltungunseres


Hauses'sttzte
meineScheinbildervon Sicherheit.Wir bauten
Attrappen um uns auf und whnten uns in Sicherheit.
Irgendwannsturzte das Kartenhauszusammen. Und ich

169
blickte auf ein Nichts, ein Loch, eine Leere. Ich mute
149)
diese
Sinnlosigkeit
(K.
H.
aufzufllen.
versuchen,

Evidently the mother's attemptsto reconstruct a new life for the two of them and to make

father
do
Her
for
the
a
not
succeed.
of
preoccupationwith alterationsto the
absence
up
happiness
her
kind,
but
for
house
the
sufficient
security
of
a
with
and
provide
actual
daughter it is a fagade, an illusion of security: the reality is that mother and daughter are
dependenton one another and that something/someoneis missing from their lives. It takes

is
her
daughter
before
to
the
the
effect
of
parents'divorce on
analyse
ready
twenty years
her life. A return to her childhood home and the memories it evokes is indicative of the

is
in
for
her
life.
Not
house
to
the
she
only
returning
search
stability
continuous
narrator's
but she is also returning to her mother. Having beenbrought up in an atmosphereof
foundation
for
is
herself,
the
to
a
secure
create
constantly
on
move,
unable
uncertainty,she
The
by
family
her
have
in
the
closing
remark
own.
of
and
a
one place
to take root
daughterunderlinesthis unrest:"Ich habemich viel zu langeaufgehalten,Mutter. Ich mu
H.
(K.
weiter"

201).

49

She is once more on the move. Neither her mother nor the house

is
because
the
its
to
the
seelcing
with
provide
mainstay
she
are
able
passing
memories
with
house
have
In
the
the
taken
seems
smaller,
mother
much
place:
older.
of time changes
little
in
have
Swiss
two
the
commonand therefore
terms
of
women
generations
broader
little to discuss. The older womanis boundto the houseand traditional values,whereas
independent,
by
being
life
daughter
career-mindedwoman
her
an
now partakesof public
in
forty
longer
be
the
for whom securityat
ageof
canno
attained modem-daySwitzerland.
illusory,
house
be
to
the
to
the
and
are
supposed
represent
appear
the
mother
Thus
security
in the sensethat they cannot be applied to the reality of the daughter'slife.

The

170
"Die
Gestalten
and
non-consoling:
unhelpful
verdichten sich, spielen
recollections prove

(K.
37).
H.
ihre
Rolle,
treten
ab"
sich
und
verneigen
noch einmal
This conceptof illusion and false securityis to be found in Ausflug mit der Mutter,
fact
is
between
her
the
that
the
the
of
she
conscious
perpetuates
role-playing
narrator
where

behaviour
because
it
falseness
feelings,
her
the
of
and
artificiality
of
provides
mother,
and
from
her
harsh
for
daughter
them:
the
form
protects
mother
each
of
reality
of protection
a
hear
herself
by
by
to
the
truth,
talking
time
the
protects
not
wanting
she
about
same
at
and

her
herself
by
to
to
close
motherthat sheempathiseswith
so
get
allowing
not
trivialities,
her and becomestoo attached:

Das Kunstgefhlknnenwir einanderzeigen. Die Tochter


die
kt
Mutter
Sie
die
Mutter
bertrieben.
ab wie
umarmt
Nur immer.

Sie demonstriertihre Herzlichkeit in einer

Verzerrung. Ein Gefhl mu erst knstlich und kann erst


dannein Ausdruckwerden. (A.M. 9)

for
daughter
in
this
mother
seems
and
impossible
Hencea genuinerelationship adulthood
daughter
become
the
of
mother
and
consider
role-reversal
evidentwhenwe
because,aswill
for
in
in
Schriber's
daughter
Wohmann's
that
and
matter
the
novel,
in thesenarratives,
is
beendete
is.
"eine
for
Their
the
relationship
she
what
mother
accept
cannot
novel,
hide
from
daughter
both
their
true
76),
M.
(A.
one
emotions
and mother
DUZ iehung"
since
-

in
"ritualized
the
an
on
of
stage
a
game-playing"
participating
willingly
another,
insecurity
71)
belie
(A.
M.
their
the
of
relationship:
where
gestures
"Erbarmungstheater"
liegt
unsereVerbindung,
unddasganzepapiereneGebilde,
"EinefalscheBewegunggenOgt,

171
(A.
Bfihnenboden"
M.
76).
auf
einern
zerst6rt

50

It is somewhat ironic, therefore, that

Wohmannhas transformedthe mother and daughterinto charactersin her book. In


Kartenhausthe adult daughteralsodisguisesthe truth from her mother. On the onehand,
by
her
her
to
mother
not
wanting
cause
protects
any unhappiness;on the other hand,
she
they have grown apart, two different generationsof women who have become strangers:

Was wei ich von ihr?

Was wei ich von Vater? Was

wissen sie von mir?

Nur so viel, wie ich erzhle.

Nebenschliches.Es geht mir immer gut, ich bin immer


beschftigt. (

) Ich vermittle den Eindruck, da ich alles


...

in
ich
da
Geborgenheit
Leichtigkeit
schaffe,
mit
alle
mir
selbstgefundenhabe,daich nie flchtenmchte,zu keinem
Platz auf der Welt. (K.H. 94)

The readerknows that the impressionthe daughtergives is far from the truth. The
daughter'sfailure to find contentmentin her life and peaceof mind is commonto these
is
be
directly
linked
to
to the ambivalencesinherent in her
shown
and
three portrayals
her
"Mama
bedeutete
Mitgutsch's
Geborgenheit
as
narrator
mother,
with
notes:
relationship
fast
konnte
beschtzen,
Ausgesetztsein,
sie
mich
allem
auervor sich selbst"
vor
und
(Z. 136). Whilst the motherpersonifiessecurity,thereis thedangerthateachdaughterwill
identify too stronglywith her, becometrappedby the interdependence
and never achieve
individuation. It is, therefore,possiblethat barrierswill go up betweenthe adult daughter
defence
be
fictional
distance
In
that
these
mechanism
and
as
a
will
created.
and mother
her
leave
does
daughter
by
the
to
mother
and
chooses avoid attachment visiting
works each

172
level
On
JaneSwigartpresentspossiblereasonsfor the
a
psychological
only occasionally.
behaviour
her
daughter's
towards
artificial
mother:
adult

We may fear that empathizing with the mother will make us

loseour identityor feelingsof separateness.


( ) If we were
...
to truly understandwhat a motherfeels on a deeplevel, we
might feel engulfed in her pain, trapped in her frustrations,

overwhelmedby the anguishof her guilt and ambivalences.


Gettinginvolvedin the mother'semotionalexperiencesmay
helplessness
the
evoke
we once felt as small children. We

idealizeor blame the mother to maintaindistancefrom the


personwho was once so close to us she seemedto be too
"
mucha part of ourselves.

The implicationis, then, that the daughteris not sufficiently sure of her own identity to
her
is
the
closeness
with
mother
and
afraid
of
renewed
mother's possible
withstand
influence,evenin adulthood.
The daughter'sfear of losing an identity shehascreatedwhilst apart from her mother
fear
being
in
dependent
her
her
"Die
the
deeply
of
mother
again,
on
at
rooted
mercy:
is
Angstvor der Abhngigkeit,die Angst,von anderenetwasannehmenzu mssen,die Angst
in
diese
den
diese
ich
Scham,
Angst
Augen,
floh
diesem
dem
Dankbarseinmssen,
vor
vor
Blick" (Z. 239). It shouldbe notedthatthroughouttheir childhoodHannaandVera created
'false selves' in order to assumetheir subordinateroles and placate their parents.
Influencedby her mother'swish to start a new life, a freshbeginningwithout her father,

173
Hanna showedher supportby wanting to adopt a new identity, to be called Johanna,to
her
her
This
'coming
her
her
to
terms'
walk,
gestures.
superficial
with
appearance,
change
father'sabsenceclearly revealsher inner insecurities. Vera learnsthe hard way: the only
brutality
her
'survive'
is
be
the
to
that
of
mother
will
completely supplicant and
she
way
Owearta mask to protect herself. Thus she makes her life bearable by recognising and

identifying with her mother's needs,by conforming to her demandsand finding some
her
in
mother:
pleasing
comfort

Als ich vierzehn war, bekamich die letzten Schlge. Wir


ihr
besten
ich
die
Freundinnen,
nichts, sie
erzhlte
wurden

dressiert,
Antworten
Ich
waren
meine
war
gut
alles.
mir
brauche
kein
ihrer
Ich
Erwartung.
entsprachen
und
spontan
Fahrrad,es wre zu gefhrlichfr mich. (Z. 9)

learntnot to expressher true feelings


It is hardly surprisingthat the daughterconsequently
daughter's
As
as
voyages
serve
of
self-discovery.
recollections
each
that
narrators
as
and
different
in
Wohmann's
too
the
will
adopt
a
she
narrator,
caseof
persona
we alreadysaw
illusions
her
destroy
to
or expectations.
mother's
so as not
This desireof the daughterto pleaseher motherby submittingto her influenceis made
daughter's
in
depiction
her
hinder
by
Mitgutsch
the
to
the
attempt
of
apparent
painfully
developmentof her femininity, in order to abateher mother'sincreasinghatredof her. As
becomes
daughter
her
the
maturing
physically,
eventuality
of
separation
the mother sees
binge
her
Vera,
imminent.
sensing
mother'sresentment,goeson an eating
threateningand
her
in
fattest
because
her
becomes
the
the
thereby
girl
class,
mother
pleasing
so that she

174
fatnessprovesto the rest of societythat her motherhasbeenfeedingher well -a sign of
careandattention,of beingwell broughtup. In fact, the eatingdisordersare a sign of the
daughter'sinsecurity:sheeatscompulsivelyto oblige her mother,shethendiets to please
her lover andin theprocessbecomesanorexic. Realisingthather self-starvationemaciates
her body so that it looks more and more unfeminine and shapesher into a child, she again

satisfiesher motherwhosecontrol over her daughter'smind and body is, thus, assured:

Ich betrachtemeineknabenhafte
Figur im Spiegel,die Brste
rgernis
das
die
Hften
die
Regel
weg,
weg,
war
weg,

fortgeschafft,jetzt konntesie mich wieder lieben. ( ) Ich


...
war wieder ein Kind, sie brauchtenicht mehr bedroht zu
fhlen. Sie hattegewonnen,ich hattemich unterworfen.
(Z. 177)

being
lack of
Psychologistsidentify the characteristics
oversubmissiveness,
as
of anorexics
self-assertionand an extremelylow self-esteem,which are all true of Vera. They also
describethe mothersas being dominantandhavingan emotionallyintensebut ambivalent
be
detached
from
fathers
daughters,
to
tend
their
the
and
passive
whilst
relationshipwith
the family."

Mitgutsch clearly provides the 'perfect' psychologicalcase study of an

by
dominated
in
like
daughter
a
similar
position,
who,
other girls and women
anorexic
depressionand anger, "intemaliseall their anxietyanddistressand experienceit via their
bodies"."

When we take the daughter'sovereatinginto accountwe can appreciatethe

disorders,
feminist
has
Mira
Dana
therapist
eating
about
women's
conclusionwhich
reached

175
'
"effect
failure
her
daughter's
that
they
the
the
to validate
are
of
mother's
namely
need".
This is because

it is our motherswho normallyfeedus whenwe arechildren,


so any abuse of food can be read as a powerful
communicationabout our nurturing. ( ... ) Overeatingmay
expressa great need for parental attention which might have

beenscanty. And starvingandstuffingalsoact on the body's


biochemistryin a way that temporarily relieves emotional
"
stress.

Sometimesthe refusal to eat is regardedas an act of rebellion againstthe suffocating


motherbut this is not the casein Mitgutsch'snovel, wherethe daughtereats/doesnot eat
in an almost sacrificial mannerand perpetuatesthe act of punishment,"eine fortgesetzte
Selbstzfichtigung"(Z. 180), self-flagellation,therebyself-imposingher mother'swill.
Further evidenceof each grown-up daughter'sinsecurity is to be detectedin the
daughter'sbelief that sheis still a child: "Ich bin nochimmer ihr Kind. Eines mit ersten
Gewohnheiten"
fremden
(K.H. 82-83),or
Haaren,
Bekannten
mit
und unvertrauten
grauen
that she wantsto be a child again, and by that shedoesmeanthat she wants to return to
infantile
dependence
her
"Ich
Wohmann's
will
narrator
comments:
of
on
state
mother,
as
a
dein kleinesKind sein, wie sich dasgeh6rt" (A. M. 31). It shouldbe pointedout that this
her
does
detailed
the
of
upbringing:thereare
not present readerwith
narrator
recollections
indifferent.
indications
bad
her
her
to
as whether relationshipwith
or
no
motherwasgood,
Her concernlies in her adult relationshipwith her mother; in the contrastbetweenthe

176
in
harmony
is
lives
the
and
who
restless
and
widow
emancipated
who
modem,
woman
so that her
contentment;in her understanding
of widowhoodandcopingwith bereavement,
in
is
indicate
be
her
does
that
to
she
needof
remark aboutwanting
mother'syoungchild
maternalsupportandhighlightsa regressivetendencyin her relationshipwith her mother.
There are times when she sees herself as an "altgewordenes Kind" (A. M. 75).

The

in
narrator, fact, suggeststhat adulthoodcan be regardedas a betrayalof parents,in that
childrengrow up to becomeseparatepersonswho no longerbehavenaturallytowardstheir
parents,who lack franknessand turn the relationshipinto a masquerade:

In der Beziehung von Eltern und Kindern darf sich


grundstzlich am Lebensalter und an den mit ihm
verbundenen Lebensuerungennichts ndern.

Das

in
ist
Wer
Verkehrtheit.
Erwachsensein
Kindes
eine
eines
seiner Kindheit sehr kindlich und vllig aufgehobenwar,
den
Eltern.
Erwachsener
an
vergeht sich spter als
(A. M. 72-73)

Paradoxically,the daughtercan accuseher parentsof providing a homelife which was so


is
desire
that
for
'real'
there
the
to
to
that
the
return
yet
not
prepared
world,
she
secure
was
"
dependence
them.
on

Her senseof insecurityin adulthood,as well as her inability to

in
fore
loss
father
her
to
the
the
a visit to
of
evenafter a year of mourning,comes
accept
her
hopes
to
with
the zoo, where she
evokenostalgicmemoriesof childhoodexcursions
her
father:
"Sterbend
instead
illustrates
but
the
the
to
visit
extent which shemisses
parents,
hat der Vater so viel Welt mitgenommen.Sie ist restlosweg. Ein Vater fehlt" (A. M. 34).

177
Feelingsof uncertaintyare also highlightedby a trip to Karlsruhewhere she appearsto
undergoa battlewith her conscience:her thoughtsare in a turmoil, setagainstthebackdrop
is
in
is
life.
her;
her
belief
Paranoia
that
city
watching
panicof chaotic
evident
everyone
stricken shetries to escapetheir staresand in the processlosesher way, which could be
be
to
symbolic of the loss of direction in her life. These two episodesalso illustrate
said

the extentto which motherand daughterdiffer in their handlingof the mourningprocess.


As already indicated, the daughter has not overcome her need of her father. On the one

hand, his deathhas resultedin her idolisation of him: in her stateof bereavementand
melancholiashe feels closer to him, able to understandhim: "Ich habe es mit den
besserals mit denLebenden,ich habemehrvon ihnen seit sie nicht mehrda
Gestorbenen
sindund Angstverursachen"(A.M.

46). 57

On theotherhand,her preoccupationwith death

her
Manfred
Jurgensen
fear
losing
that
the
mother,
as
she
avoids
reality
means
of
and
der
ist,
damit
Mutter
der
"berall
die
dem
Verlust
Furcht
und
eigenen
comments:
vor
11 In stark contrast the mother appearsto have managedto adjust
IdentitAt spOrbar".
her
life,
husband
to
the
towards
of
positive
attitude
absence
on
account
of -her
successfullY
her
has
far
daughter,
further
to
than
come
grips
quicker
as
analysis
and
with widowhood
is
it
daughter's
for
the
noticeablethat the f ictionalising
reasons writing will reveal,since
of
her
her
helps
daughter
the
to
present-day
relationship
understand
with
of widowhood
mothcr.
in psychologicaltermsbrings
For the narratorin Die ZlIchtigungit is motherhood%yhich
her backto her mother. It is whensheis pregnantthat shestartsto think abouther mother:
the identificationprocesshascomefull circle. In thepresenceof her own screamingbaby
the adult daughterwishesthat she was being nurturedonce more. Shedoesnot want to
face the responsibilityof motherhood,the reality of anothermother-daughter
relationship

178
taking shapeand the fear she has of being her motherall over again and repeatingher
behaviour:

Als ich mit demNeugeborenen


in die fremde,heieWohnung
zurckkamundder Vater meinesKindesmich verlie,saich
Kind und rief nachihr. Ich wollte in
nebendem schreienden
ihre Arme zurck, ich schrie nach der Liebe, die ich meinem
Kind verweigerte, ich wollte gewiegt werden, mich ganz klein
machen in ihrem Scho und nie mehr in die Wirklichkeit
zurckmssen. (Z. 7)

The daughteris consciousof how easyit would be for her to start mistreatingher child.
As a child shehadpretendedto be a mother,her dolls being her children. Imitating her
motherand not wantingto be powerlessin her world of make-believe,shebeather dolls.
havein the past interpretedgirls playing with dolls
It is worth noting that psychoanalysts
as a form of wish fulfilment, that the way the girl actsout her relationshipwith her doll is
the way shehopesher motherwill behavetowardsher, that by playing this gamethe wish
becomesreality.51 in Die Zkhtigung Vera doesnot play the 'perfect', loving motherwith
her dolls, probablybecauseshedoesnot know the difference:for her the 'Perfect' mother
is the punishingmother. Sheis, after all, broughtup to believethat love and torture are
synonymous:

Die Strafe ist immer gerechtund wohlverdient. Wer sein


Kind liebt, der zchtigtes. (Z. 19)

179
Kinder mssenunbedingtgeschlagenwerden, sonst wird
nichtsausihnen,wer seinKind liebt, der spartdie Rutenicht.
(Z.

101)60

Justas the daughteris an alter egofor the mother,so the doll is both the daughter'sdouble
her
hands
the
andher child. The doll must,therefore,sufferthepain sheexperiences
of
at
mother, as Beauvoir explains:

Whenshescolds,punishes,andthenconsolesher doll, sheis


at once vindicating herself as against her mother and
assuming,herself, the dignity of a mother: shecombinesin
herself
She
the
two
the
pair.
mother-daughter
elements
of
e,
it
in
her
it
doll,
brings
confides
she
up, exercisesupon her
sovereignauthority, sometimesshe even tears off its arms,
beats it, tortures it. , Which is to say she experiences
"
doll.
identification
through
the
subjectiveaffirmation and

It is not difficult to see,therefore,how thechild's conceptof motherhoodfilters through


in later yearsandis transferableto a real baby. Scarredby her mother'ssado-masochism
behaviourtowardsher
the daughterrisks expressingfeelingsof guilt in sado-masochistic
believing
is
deceives
It
Vera
in
herself
that
thinking
and
she can
otherwise
clear
child.
breakthe cycle,just as shenotedin her relationshipwith men: "Ich bin keineMasochistin,
ich
bereitet
keine
ich
Lust,
mugezchtigtwerden,
es
mir
gequltzu werden,aber
wei,
dennjeder kannsehen,daich schlechtbin und der LiebeunwU"rdig"(Z. 115). Consultant

180
psychologist, Jenny Cozens, focuses on the inevitability of the wounded mother,
emotionallyandphysicallyhurt, repeatingthe patternsof her past:

The daughterwill takeit out on her own children, especially


her daughters, becausewe pass on cruelty to those with less

power to defend themselvesand becauseher children will


neverbe able to provide her with the love she neededfrom
her own motherand shewill resentthemfor that.62

Certainly, Vera's motherhad herselfbeenbeatenby her mother, tortured and abusedby


her father, a daughterwho had beenunwantedand, therefore,unlovedfrom the moment
bom.
She was made aware of this throughouther upbringing, made to feel
she was
ashamedof her own femininity so that marriagewas her only meansof escape,her only
chanceof gainingsomeself-worthandvengefullyassertingherselfover her meekhusband
andher own daughter.The narratorrecallsthaton oneoccasionsheglimpsedher mother's
own deeplyburied fear of punishment:

Einmal ri ich ihr den Prgelausder Hand und sahin ihren


ich
der
Augen
diesselbe
Angst,
entsetzten
mit
mich unter
ihrem Arm duckte. Sekundenlangstandenwir einander
gegenber,die tierische Angst vor dem Geschlagenwerden

bis
der
zwischenuns,
uns beidendie Ungeheuerlichkeit
Situationins angstgelhmteGehirn fuhr und die natrliche
Ordnungwiederherstellte.(Z. 164)

181
There'are,indeed,momentsin thelives of eachof thesethreedaughterswhenthe roles
of motheranddaughterarereversed:theidentificationprocessis socompleteandentwined
oncethe daughteris herselfan adult, and it alsoindicatesthat separationfrom the mother
has neverbeenachievedfrom a psychologicalstandpoint. In Ausflugmit der Mutter the
narrator assumesthe task of responsibilityfor her widowed motherand therebyacquires
a matriarchalidentity to the extentthat sheis proneto treatingher motherlike a child. She
doesseeher motheras vulnerablein her widowhood,especiallywhen she observesher
mother behavinglike a girl whilst with strangersand not cocoonedby her own family

circle:

Auch meineMutter ist im Rollentausch,der siezumPflegling


degradiert,verlegen,und unsicherfhlt sie sich nicht sehr
darin
ihr
Es
manchmal
sie
wohl.
steht
gar nicht, wenn
bertreibt,sich gehenlt und infantilisiert. (A. M. 88)

It is no wonder, then, that the daughterbelittles her mother's attempts at being an


independentwoman:Ts ist so ein herablassender
Kindergartentonaufgekommen,von mir
'
dir,
(A.
Mutter"
76).
M.
zu

This exchangeof roles coincideswith the artificiality of

behaviour displayedby mother and daughter,which was discussedearlier, and does


illustrate the lengthsto which both thesewomengo to 'protect' one another. Due to a
strong sense of responsibility the adult daughter takes on the protective nature of
feelings
She
that
the
recognises guilt
motherhoodas well as
mantelof punitive authority.
75)
M.
(A.
doing
for
Geborgenheitsspender"
her
"Schutzover not
enough
motheras a
und
behaviour
her
desire
for
tyrannical
the
almost
conflict with
separationandare at the root of

182
towardsher mother. Her thoughtsof forcing her mother to behavelike a dog, totally
faithful, obedientand, aboveall, dependenton its mistressfor survival, are a sign of the
'
daughter'sdeep-concealed
her
desperationfor her mother'sacceptance
autonomy. It
of
is as if shehasto showher motherthat sheis capableof beingin chargein order to earn
her mother's respect:

Ich verankereeine untilgbareSchuldin der Mutter. Unsere


Zusammengehrigkeitlernt siejetzt als miesePflicht kennen.
Ich zwinge sie in die Knie vor mir, sie soll auf allen Vieren

ist
denn
he
Mutter,
kommen,
was
und winselndangekrochen
los, hast du nicht bedacht,dajetzt mein Leben dran ist?
(A.M. 75-76)

and seeksapproval
However,the very fact that the daughterconstantlyneedsreassurance
both
the
Moreover,
hand.
and
role-playing
the
the
to
upper
mother
continues give
is
indicate
feelings
without
that
relationship
the present-daymother-daughter
disguisingof
truecompassion,real communicationandacceptance
of oneanother'sautonomousself, that

thesetwo generationsof women are on different wavelengthsand have different


from
life.
Thenarratorpointsto theirpastrelationshipas a time wheneach
expectations
fulfilled
her
'rightful'
them
of
role in a carefreemanner:the young, naive daughter
by
mother:
nurtured a naturally-behaving

Unsere Kommunikation (... ) bleibt am besten ein schnes

brunlichverfrbtesPhoto aus der schnen,im Gedchtnis

183
ermattetenVorzeit, in der wir nochkeineWahrheitzur Pose
konnten
Da
muten.
umfrisieren
wir noch ohne Verkrampfungenund Lippenerstarrungen,
unkontrolliertvon unseren
Kpfen, miteinander umgehen. (A. M. 79)

A reversalof roles is also evidentin Kartenhaus. Here the mother is in needof her
daughter's love and attention because she believes that she has failed as a 'perfect'
daughter, wife and mother. Her daughter gives her life meaning and purpose, hence she

her
visits:
on
relies

Ihre Umarmung-war ein'Suchennach Halt, sie hielt nicht


drckten
hielt
Rippen
Ihre
gegenmein
sichan mir.
mich, sie
Gesicht,ich drehte den Kopf zur Seite und war doch das
13)
hatte.
(K.
H.
sie
einzige,was

Und ich war alles, was sie hatte. (K.H. 169)

depression
her
tendency
towards
daughter
of
andregulartearful
The
moods
recalls mother's
her
her
husband
left.
front
displayed
In
before
of
child
she
after
great
and
outbursts,
in
be
herself
Hanna
to
the
their relationship,
that
stronger
person
considered
weakness,so
her mother giving the impressionof being helpless. In later years, after the father's
departureandwheneverher motherdid cry, Hannawould order her to pull herselftogether,
just as sheusedto be told to do so by her father. Shewould encourageher motherto be

184
look
in
Like
the
the
this study, this mother's
and
part.
many
of
mothers
confident
more
is
her
life:
to
consequent
attributed
own
upbringing
and
outlook
on
weak nature

Sie hatte nicht gelernt, sich gegen ihre Eltern, ihren Mann,
ihr Kind, ihre Umwelt durchzusetzen. 'Nicht geboren, um
glcklich zu sein, sondern um eine Prfung zu bestehen',

wrde sie antworten,wenn ich nach dem Sinn des Lebens


fragte. (K. H. 27)

This idea of the mother that life constitutesa test has its origins partly in her belief in

CatholicismandGod'sjustice, partly in her experiences


of havingsufferedunderthe cruel
hand of her father and having beentreatedlike a servantby her husband. During her
imagined
but
husband
future
had
her,
to
terrorise
no
always
a
children
with
she
marriage
finds
in
She
her
divorce
form
comfort prayersand
as a
of redemption.
so that sheregards
is
is
best,
highlighted
her
knows
God
by the
that
which
watchingover
and
the conviction
for
her
her
bed.
day
has
Jesus
She
above
child
every
of
prays
and even
picture she
finds
helpful.
listen
Hanna
that
to
to
the
she
sermons
which
she
should
radio
recommends
It is interestingto notethatboth Hanna'smother(weakandsubmissive)andVera's mother
(strongand punishing)were mistreatedas childrenby their fathersand both turn to God,
daughters
towards
him
their
their
their
actions
and
supporting
attitudes
side,
as
on
swing
in
beatings,
life
In
Mitgutsch's
to
the mother,
towards
according
general.
novel
as
as well
kein
Gottesurteil
God's
"Sie
to
und
wrath:
ein
zufffiliges, sich
waren
are equivalent
167).
in
(Z.
As
Gewitter"
she
punishes
previously
with
mentioned,
accordance
entladendes
him
his
"He
but
he
loves
hates
Testament's
the
Old
son,
who
who spares rod
proverb:
the

185
is careful to discipline him" (Proverbs13:24). In her review of Die Zikhtigung Maria
Fris6 focuseson this aspectof religion as being associatedwith punishment:

Der alttestamentarischeSpruch wird lebensgefhrdende


Wirklichkeit. Der Schlagendeund die Geschlagenevollziehen

eine rituelle Handlung: Zchtigung als Gottesauftrag,als


Rettung vor dem Bsen, die Folter als gottgefllige
Geiflelung."'

The fact that it is the mother who executesGod's will by serving him suggeststo the
daughterthat her mother and God are one and the same. The narrator concludesher
by evoldng'In the nameof the Father,the Sonand
recollectionswith religiousassociations
the Holy Ghost': "Sie herrschtund ich diene, und wenn ich meinenganzenMut sammle
im
des
Gehorsams,
der
leiste,
immer,
Vernunftund der
Widerstand
Namen
und
gewinntsie
Angst" (Z. 246).66 If we transposethe religiousconceptsto the daughter'sinterpretation,
implied: the Fatherpersonifiesobedience(he is usually
we canunderstandthe associations
the disciplinarian, here it is the mother), the son personifies reason (Christ is the
life
for
life,
here
daughter
her
the
explanation
mother's meaning)andthe Holy Ghost
gives
is fear (the environmentin which the child is broughtup). Reigningover all theseaspects
is the Mother's influenceover the way her daughterbehaves(submissive),thinks (reason

for submission)
andfeels(causeof submission).
Although the portrayalof the motheris personal,it shouldnot be regardedas unique,
as MarianneHirsch points out:

186
bondare the
Femalewriters' accountsof the mother-daughter
most articulateand detailedexpressionsof its intimacy and
distance,passionandviolence,that we can find; they are the
'
mostpersonaland at the sametime the mostuniversal.

As illustratedin the generalintroductoryanalysisof the mother-daughter


relationship,and
supportedby details from the three works of fiction, any tensionin this relationshipis
universally recognisedand not peculiar to theseportrayals. Each novel presentsthe
problems grown-up daughtersface when learning to understandtheir mothers on an
level.
daughters
Whilst
is
these
the
are at the sametime
emotional
criticism of
mother rife,
issue
A
their
them.
with which the writers
clearly
wider
self-critical;
mothersare part of
in
in
is
three
these
the
themselves
of
works concern
positionof women society, particular
Austrian, Swissand Germansociety. To a certainextentthis hasbeentouchedon when
due
has
herself,
image
to the matemalmodelwith
the
of
we considered negative
a mother
has.
identified
inherited
lack
the
of respectsociety shown,and probablystill
which she
and
Schriber
Mitgutsch,
for
Wohmann
Furthermore,
the
the
and
shows,
position of
mother.
do not just depict 'ordinary' mothers. Two of the mothershavehad other 'labels' affixed
in
both
'widowed',
by
'divorced'
of which are viewed
to them society,namelythat of
and
in
depicted
is
Thus,
in
the
light,
Zachtigung
Die
the
as
a
sadist.
mother
whilst
a negative
has
terms
these
her
to
to
with
the
come
also
mother,
narrator
processof understanding
imposedidentitiesfor which societyis Partly to blame.
Mitgutschportraysthe monstrousmotheras specificto the working-classfarm labourers
by
is
the
This
landscape
between
Austria
Czechoslovakia.
clear
the
made
of
rural
and
War,
World
Second
as
life
before,
during
well
as
the
the
the
setting,
of
village
and after

187
the useof local dialect. The oldestof sevenchildren,Marie is an unwanteddaughterwho
is beatenand scomed,who has to help look after her sistersand brothersand work the
farm with her father. She marriesFriedl, a villager, with whom she had corresponded
from
She
he
becomes
the
tram
war.
was
a
soldier
and
a
return
conductor
on
who
whilst
in
farm-life
him
because
loves
in
him,
but
the hopeof
to
not
she
marries
order escape
because
life
land
Friedl
the
town,
the
the
of
and
on
edge
pieceof
ownson
creatinga new
there is a lack of suitors after the war. The mother is striving to reach a different social

is
but
looked
down
uponby the townspeople:
class

Es beginnt der mhsameVersuchder dominierendenFrau,


den sozialenAufstiegvom Bauerntumber dasproletarische
Kleinbrgertum in eine reputierliche Brgerlichkeit fortheile
Fassadenund
der
Versuch,
sich an
zusetzen- ein
Statussymboleklammert, aber schon von der stdtischbrgerlichenUmwelt blockiert wird."

The frustrationthe motherfeelsby not beingableto climb the socialladderandcontinuing


to live in impoverishedconditions,starvedof love, is takenout on her daughter. In this
traditional,patriarchalsystemthe motheris not a freeagentbut shedoesrule the homeand
her daughteris her servant. Whilst Mitgutschcreatesthe milieu of lower-classvillage-life
from
in
it
Austria,
be
that
town-life
many
parents
all classes
should noted
and provincial
beaten,
that,
inclined
beat
if
themselves
to
their
and
they
were
of society are
children,
is
German
beating
NSPCC,
to
the
the
child
still considered
one's
according
equivalentof
is
in
book
legitimate
bringing
that
and
The
this
poverty
methodof
a
up children.
evidence

188
hungerengenderfear which is manifestedin the mother'sneedto control and achievea
for
Germanic
depicts
daughter.
by
beating
her
Mitgutsch
reputation
a
senseof power
'Kinderfeindlichkeit', wherebythere doesappearto be a generalfailure to understand
Kinder" (Z. 123).
children. Sheevenrefersto Austria as "eine Nation geschlagener
In Kartenhausthe mother undergoesan identity crisis when her husbandleavesher: she

is no longer regardedas a wife but a divorcee,as a consequence


the questionis posed:
"Wer war man als Geschiedene?
" (K. H. 47)., She loses her identity as a wife and has

imposedon her the identity of a dishonouredor discreditedwoman,sinceit is usuallythe


is
blamed
for
divorce and its damagingeffect on the children. Within a close
who
woman

Catholiccommunityher divorceis frownedupon:whenshoppingor enteringa pub on her


her
her
for
behind
believes
tallcing
that
and
about
at
example,
she
own,
peoplearepointing
her back. In their eyesshehas damagedher respectabilityand is treatedwith suspicion.
It is hardly surprisingthat shewithdrawsinto the houseandinto herself. What worries the
daughter:
"Der
her
Gedanke,
daO
is
damning
the
effect on
mother most of all
possible
dieserMakel der Scheidungauchauf ihr Kind bergehe,dadie anderenmich ausschlieen
k6nnten,hat sie fast krank gemacht"(K.H. 175). Sheeveninterpretsher first white hairs
in
divorcee
for
being
the eyes of the rest of
the
thirty-seven
a
age of
at
as a penance
Geschiedene"
(K.
H.
in
der
fr
das,
Augen
"Bue
den
war:
eine
anderen
society:
was sie
24). Since she loses her identity and social status, she comesto the conclusionthat
divorceesare comparablewith widows, the implication being that both are regardedas
occupyinga low socialstatus. Both the divorceeandthe widow experiencesocialstigmas;
they lose their spousesto anotherwomanor to death;both experiencesomeform of grief
is
if,
like
Hanna's
the
the
euphoric reaction a way of
separation,even
after
mother,
handling the loss; both undergoemotionaltrauma; and both will have to regain their

189
independence,
it
is,
decisions
in fact,
According
their
to
maldng
on
own.
psychologists,
often thecasethatwomenexperiencedivorceasa 'dying process'becausetheir routinehas
beendisruptedandtheir socialrole alongwith the relationshipssurroundingthat role have
'died'. Suchan analogy,however,doesobscurethe fact that the divorceedoesoften make
a new life for herselL

Justas divorceesexperiencelonelinessandisolation, so do widows, as highlightedby


the daughter's preconceivedideas of what her mother's life must be like in Ausflug mit der
Mutter. "Sie ist heiter, und ich habe sie mir niedergedrckt vorgestellt.

...

Ihr

Weiterlebenals Witwe seheich immer deutlicher, aber immer mehr nur aus meinem
Blickwinkel" (A. M. 47).

It is made apparent throughout the narrative that the adult

daughterdoesnot understandher mother,in particularher newidentity. Sheis bewildered


by her mother'sability to adjustto her new life, which implies that sheherselfhasneither
her
father's
deathnor come to terms with her emotions,as discussedearlier.
accepted
'Henceher feelingstowardsher mother,as a widow, are contradictory:one momentsheis
concerned,over-protective,the next, nasty,aggressive.Towardsthe end of the narrative
the daughterquestionswhy it has takenher almosta year to recognisethe significanceof
her mother'swidowhood,andwonderswhy her comprehension
andacceptance
of the word
"Witwe" has takenso long. Her answeris that time has in someway played its part in
helping her to separateher emotionalresponsefrom the reality, 'and that the processof
identity
has
forced
her
look
her
to
and understandher
mother's
writing
more closely at
mother'snew status: "Nur durch meineStzekannich ein ruhigesUrteil berdich finden
is,
implication
DU
BIST
EINE
JA,
WITWE
The
(A.
138).
M.
though,that she
und
sagen"
can only acceptthe mother'swidowhoodthroughthe processof fictionalisingher life.

190
This notion of time and experienceinfluencing the writer's judgementof past and
is
by
Barbara
is
Saunders
here:
commented
upon
events
and
applicable
present

As he writes, his view of himselfmaychangeas he discovers


associations and patterns in his life which he had not

previouslyrecognised. ( ... ) It is impossibleto remember


events,conversationsand emotionsexactly as they were at the

time they occurredbecausethe individual's assessment


of
them is in itself a 'memory', a reconstructionbased on
"
selection.

Certainly, the narratorin Wohmann'snovel is awarethat changeis happeningin her own


her
behaviour,
towards
attitude
and
so that their relationship
mother's
perspective
fluctuates.
The
time
the
of
about
mother-daughter
act
of
over
a
writing
period
continually
daughter
illustrates
the
to
extent
can and will changeone
mother
and
which
relationship
is
daughter's
fear
Added
to
this
the
that
consciously
or
subconsciously.
whether
another,
identity:
her
falsify
her
mother,even
as a writer shewill alter

Ich bleibe in Seiten stecken, die ich vor ungefhr vier


Monatengeschriebenhabe. Die Beschreibungen
von damals
wirken steif, wie unaufgetaut. Wir habenuns miteinander
verndert. (... )

Auf der ersten Seite bin ich doch fast

lieber
Angst,
ich
gewesen
vor
zynisch
verklemmt,
war

191
verkleistert, vereist als jemand, der sich ausliefert und
berfallenlt,jemand,der empfindet. (A.M. 70-71)

By writing about the mother, each daughterdoes actually give birth to a fictionalised
mother: thus, the writer is the 'mother' of this new character in her fiction. Once again

if
daughterandmotherare shownto be dependent
because,
the motherwere
on oneanother
absentfrom the daughter'slife, the author would not have the material necessaryfor
writing her book or for exploring her own identityo We can see, therefore, that all the

theoriesabout the mother-daughterbond are evidentin theseworks of literature. The


motherservesas a function in the writer's life, just as the daughtergives meaningto the
ist
"Unsere
Zusammengeh6rigkeit
Wohmann's
mother'sexistence,as
narratorcomments:
interpreted
komplizierte
be
(A.
Technik"
71).
This
M.
asa commenton the actual
eine
can
her
between
between
daughter,
the
the
writer
and
relationship
relationship
motherand
or on
in
bond
in
incurred
true-to-life
the
mother-daughter
protagonist: complications
creatinga
fiction. The psychologicalfact that the adult daughterhas introjected her mother by
becominglike her meansthat she can overcomeher separationanxieties. The woman
daughter
have
'advantage'
to
the
a
mother
and
who are
appears
writer
additional
of creating
"projections of psychologicalpossibilities" in that they are the result of the writer's
imaginationand can be used to enact the ups and downs of the real mother-daughter
"
it
is
figures
difficulties:
The
the
the
a way of
out
embody
conflicts, act
relationship.
providing the writer with thepotentialfor tallcingthroughproblemson paper. Whetherthe
daughterintrojectsher mother, or whetherthe writer projectsthe mother, either way the
bond is evident. As the narrator in Ausflug mit der Mutter explains,writing about her
"Das
her
brings
her
to
mother:
motherand analysingtheir relationship
very much closer

192
Schreibenberdie Mutter bringt mich micht in eineabkhlendeDistanz,machtmich nicht
neutral, relativiert nicht meineEmpfindung. Es ist meine uerste,noch verbleibende
Anstrengungder Anndherung"(A.M. 63). At the sametime it is a meansof proving her
love for her motherbecauseof the'attentionshehasto pay her in order to be ableto write
about her: "Der Artikulationsversuch ber die Mutter als Witwe ist meine extremste

Zuwendung"(A. M. 5).1 Furthermore,the writer is able to 'capture' her motherin her


book so that the fear of ever losing her is assuaged.The writing processthereforebrings
some solace,just as the bereavedwriter was able to find an outlet for her grief in artistic

73
expression. Moreover, the three novels do show that it does not matter whetherthe
between
is
daughter
relationship
motherand
wasor loving or not, the similaritiesare there,
thesefictional works
the symbiotictie doesexist. Ultimately, for eachdaughter-cum-writer
in
lives
testimony
their
the
their
a
respective
andencapsulate
are
of
permanence
mothers
of
the mother for eternity, as well as guaranteethe daughter'sidentity'

Thus, when

compared.to the Germanicworks written about fathers,three of which were analysedin


ChapterOne, it is possibleto identify differencesandsimilaritiesbetweenthe concernsof
the daughterwriting abouther fatherand the daughterwriting abouther mother. In both
I
caseseach daughteris trying to reach a better understandingof her parent in order to
her
understand own self. Whilst the father-daughterportrayalsare more aware of the
historical/political influences, the mother-daughterportrayals are more psychologically
orientated.
To conclude,it has becomeapparentthat without the theorieson the mother-daughter
bond, as explainedat the start of this chapter,it would be impossibleto appreciatethe
her
it
found
to
female
to
has
these
extent
which each of
necessary analyse
writers
relationshipwith her mother on paper. The three works of literature provide proof Of

193
psychologyinterwoveninto fiction as a form of therapy in the act of writing and as
indicatedby the reflectionsof eachdaughteron the relationshipto herselfand her mother.
This psychologicalaspectpointsto the universalattractionandapplicabilityof suchwriting
to otherwomenin general,whilst theimagesof Austria andSwitzerlanddo placetheworks
by MitgutschandSchriberin the countrieswhich specificallyshapedthesewomen'slives.
It is not possibleto say the same,however,of Wohmann'sportrayal, sincethis German
writer doesnot allude to any historicalor political concernsparticular to Germanywhich
influenced
have
the mother-daughterdyad depictedin Ausflug mit der Mutter. Butlike
may

Mitgutschand Schribersheis concernedaboutsociety'sattitudestowardswomen,in this


casetowardselderly divorcees. In a recentinterviewWohmannrepudiatedthe notion that
be
function:
should
performing
some
socio-political
she

Bei meiner schriftstellerischenArbeit interessiertmich das


Aufsprenoder Darstellenvon gesellschaftlichenUrsachen
ich
Wenn
Wirkungen
am wenigsten.
und
offengestanden
ist
Eltern
Ehepaaren
Kindern,
schreibe,
meine
abervon
oder
'D-

durchaus
auch
wenn
eine
gesellschaftliche,
11,
-trachtensweise
ihnen
ich
daran
da
auf
eine
von
nicht
sich manche
stoen,
75
"deutliche
beziehe.
ArV
Stellung
gewnschte

Furthermore,we are justified in sayingof Mitgutsch's and Schriber'snovels that whilst


there is a quality pertainingto Austria and Switzerland,the conflict betweenmotherand
daughter,the lack of understanding
betweengenerations,is not peculiarto thosecountries,
as Klaus Antes points out in his review of Die Zachtigung:

194
Ein Text, der sichkeineswegs
Sozialisation
auf alpenlndische
beschrnkt.Er vermittelt ber die subjektiveVerantwortung
hinausviel von der HeillosigkeitunsererGesellschaften
und
davon, wie MenschenGeschichtegestalten,oder sollte man
sagen,Schicksalspielen,ohnesichdarberim klarenzu sein?
Und er lehrt, wie schwierigesist, wennnicht gar unmglich,
auszubrechen
ausdem Gefngnis,das, errichtetvon fremder
Hand, oft in uns selbst ist
...

76

We can also concludefrom our analysisthat in contrastto the historical confrontation


presentin the majority of contemporaryGermanworks depicting relationshipsbetween
fathersand sons,and to someextent, as illustratedin ChapterOne, betweenfathersand
daughters,recriminationbetweendaughtersand mothersis not historically or politically
is
This
motivated.
probablydueto the fact that fatherswere seenas primarily responsible
for havingcreatedtheThird Reichandhavingparticipatedin its atrocities,whetheractively.
it
bear
When
brunt
that
they
the
their
accusations.
or passively,so
children's
comesto
of
the portrayalsof the motherit is noticeablethat modemGermanliterature about mothers
is being written by womenfrom an extremelypersonalperspectivewith only a handfulof
(1972)
Peter
Handke's
Wunschloses
Unglack
such
as
andHermannBurger'sDie
exceptions,
k-anstliche
Mutter (1982). As we haveseenin theseworks, the portrayalof the relationship
with the mother is the terrain of the womanwriter on accountof the strong matrilinear
tradition:

195
Vom antiken Mythos bis zur Gegenwartliegt der Akzent
diesesVerhltnissesauf der Symbiose,der Gleichheitder
Empfindungswelt und des Erfahrungskanons- einem
Zusammenhang,der Abhngigheit bedeutet, aber auch
Vertrauen, Herrschaft, aber auch Hilfe. '

196
NOTES TO CHAPTER TWO

Felicitas Frischmuth,Die kleinen Erschtterungen. Eine Mutter aus Wrtern


(Frankfurta.M.: Fischer, 1987),p. 43. Accordingto the text the quoteis by the
Swedish film director, Ingmar Bergmann.

Nancy Chodorow, 'Family Structure and Feminine Personality', in Women, Culture


and Society, ed. by Michelle Zimbalist Rosaldo and Louise Lamphere (Stanford,

Calif.: StanfordUniversity Press,1974),pp. 43-66 (p. 65).

John Caffoll, Guilt.- 7he Grey Eminence Behind Character, History and Culture

(London,Bostonand Melbourne:Routledgeand KeganPaul, 1985),p. 197.

JanetSayers,Mothefing Psychoanalysis
(Harmondsworth:Penguin,1992),p. 3.

Sayers,p. 11.

Margarete Mitscherlich, ber die Mhsal der Emanzipation(Frankfurt a.M.:


Fischer, 1990),pp. 34-35.

SigneHammer,TchterundMtter. berdie SchwierIgkeiten


einerBeziehung,
in
1986)v
17.
Original
edition
P.
trans.by MomikaZapf (Frankfurta.M.: Fischerp
York:
(New
Daughters
English, entitled Daughters and Mothers: Mothers and
Quadrangle,1975).

197
8

NancyFriday, My MotherlMySelf.- A Daughter'sSearchforIdentity, 8th edn(New


York: DelacortePress, 1978). This is the conclusionFriday reachesafter four
yearsof interviewingover 200 womenin America, mainly mothers,all daughters.

JessicaBenjamin, 7he Bonds of Love (London: Virago, 1990), p. 79.

10

Friday, p. 409.

11

Judith Arcana, Our Mothers' Daughters (Berkeley: ShamelessHussy Press, 1979).

12

Friday, p. 8.

13

Lynn Sukenick,'Feeling and Reasonin Doris Lessing's Fiction', Contemporary


Literature, 14 (1974),515-535(p. 519).

14

AdrienneRich, Of WomanBorn: Motherhoodas Experienceand Institution (New


York: Norton, 1976),p. 236.

15

Hammer,p. 46.

16

Friday, p. 68.

198
17

Simone de Beauvoir, 7he Second Sex, trans. and ed. by H. M. Parshley


(Harmondsworth:Penguin, 1979), p. 310. Originally publishedin 1949 as Le
DeuxPme Sexe.

18

Carol Tavris and Carole Wade, 7he Longest War.- SexDifferences in Perspective,
2nd edn (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984).

19

Beauvoir,pp. 309-310.

20

Jane Flax, 'The Conflict Between Nurturance and Autonomy in Mother-Daughter

Relationshipsand within Feminism',FeministStudies,4 (1978)9171-180(p. 179).

21

In her studyFlax commentsthat mothers

do not seemto haveas clear a senseof physicalboundaries


betweenthemselvesand their girl childrenas do mothersof
boys. Womenin therapyhavefrequentlysaidthat they have
no senseof wherethey end and their mothersbegin, evenin
a literal physicalway.

Flax, p. 174.

Chodorowreachesthe sameconclusion:"mothersexperiencedaughtersas onewith


themselves;their relationshipsto daughtersare 'narcissistic"'. Nancy Chodorow,

199
The Reproductionof Mothering: Psychoanalysisand the Sociologyof Gender
(BerkeleyandLos Angeles:University PressCalifornia, 1978),p. 195.

22

Hammer,p. 46.

23

SeeFlax, p. 174.

24

Jane Swigart quotes Dr. Christina Wendel in 7he Myth of the Bad Mother: 7he
Emotional Realities of Motheting (New York: Doubleday, 1991), p. 82.

25

Beauvoir,pp. 534-535.

26

PennyPerrick, 'Too Closefor Comfort', Sunday77mes,15 November1989.

27

MichaelMoeller, 'Einfhrung', in Ich schauin denSpiegelundsehemeineMutter,


by BarbaraFranck (Hamburg:Hoffmannand Campe,1979),p. 29.

28

Benjamin,p. 24 andp. 52.

29

Flax, p. 179.

30

Bell Gale Chevigny, 'Daughters Writing: Towards a Theory of Women's


Biography', FeministStudies,9 (1983),79-102(p. 94).

200
31

GabrieleWohmann,Ausflugmit der Mutter (DarmstadtandNeuwied:Luchterhand


,
1985). Parentheticalpage referenceswill be precededby A. M. There is the
thedaughterandmotherareaccomplices:"Am wenigstenbetreffenthese
suggestion
Seitendann spterdich, meineMutter, denn du bist wie ich jetzt dran und jetzt
steckst du mit mir tief drin" (A. M. 30).

32

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own (London: Grafton, 1977), p. 83.

33

Waltraud Anna Mitgutsch, Die Zachtigung (MOchen: dtv, 1988). Abbreviated to

Z. with paginationin brackets.

34

For further detailsabouttheseparticularwriters seeLoma Irvine, 'A Psychological


Journey: Mothers and Daughters in English-CanadianFiction', in The Lost
Tradition: Mothers and Daughtersin Literature, ed. by Cathy N. Davidsonand
E.M. Broner (New York: Ungar, 1980),pp. 242-252.

35

Margrit Schriber,Kartenhaus(Frauenfeld:Verlag Huber, 1978). Abbreviatedto


K. H. with pagenumbersin parentheses.

36

There are similaritieswith Augustain Plessen'sMittellung an denAdel who knew


that shewas being brought up to fulfil the role of a dutiful daughterand obedient
wife, therebyperpetuatingaristocraticexpectations.

201
37

Maria-ReginaKecht, "'In the Name of Obedience,Reason,and Fear": MotherDaughter Relationsin Waltraud Anna Mitgutsch and Elfriede Jelinek', 7be German

Quarterly, 62 (1989),357-372(p. 358).

38

This is reminiscent of the fact that the fathers in Chapter One are also regarded as

immortal: they are very muchalive in their daughters'memories.

39

Victoria SecundaquotesJenny Cozensin 'Should You Divorce Your MotherT New

Woman,March 1989,198-121(p. 120).

40

Sally MoulsdalequotesJudy Hildebrandof the Instituteof Family Therapyin 'Are


You Your Mother All Over AgainT Woman'sWorld, March 1990,38-39 (p. 39).

41

The daughtermakesanotherreferenceto thefact that thecyclehasnot beenbroken:


"Der Kreis, aus dem ich auszubrechengehofft hat, hat sich unentrinnbar
geschlossen"(Z. 213).

42

Swigart, p. 66.

43

Friday, p. 28.

44

In ChapterOneit was notedthat daughtersalsowishedfor their fathers' deathsso


that authority and control would be removedfrom their lives.

202
45

The imageof the cripple without crutchesis also mentionedby Brigitte Schwaiger
in her reactionto the loss of her father. SeeChapterOne, p. 104.

46

It is interestingto note that like Jutta Schutting'sfather and ElisabethPlessen's


father, this father is in the medicalprofessionand hunts. Like Schutting'sfather,
he is a taxidermist. The father portrayed by Schriber is a "Wunderdoktor"
respected for the miracles he could perform, such as making people walk again,
stopping a child's bedwetting. Like the fathers in the previous chapters, he has the

power to IdIl and to heal.

47

Marianne Burkhard, 'Gauging Existential Space:The Emergenceof Women Writers

in Switzerland',WorldLiterature Today,55 (1981),607-612(p. 611).

48

Mary E. Stewart, 'Margrit Schriber: Women and Fiction in Switzerland, in


Switzerland1945-91,ed.
RejectionandEmancipation.Writing in German-speaking
by Michael Butler and Malcolm Pender(New York and Oxford: Berg, 1991),
pp. 171-183.

49

1 thereforedo not agreewith JOrgAltwegg who, in his review of Kartenhaus,is of


the opinion that the close of the narrative "deutet leise an, daB die ErzAhlerin
den
loszukommen
den
Obsessionen
der
Vergangenheit
endlich von
scheintund
Grundsteinfr ein eigenesHauszu legenversucht". Die Zeit, 12 October1979.

203
50

YvonneHolbeche,'Portrait andSelf-Portrait:GabrieleWohmann'sAusflugmit der


Mutter', Seminar20 (1984),205-217(p. 212).

51

Swigart,p. 106.

52

Details from JoannaBunker Rohrbaugh,Women:Psychology'sPuzzle(London:


Abacus, 1981), pp. 412-413.

53

Judy Sadgrove, 'Why Food is Still a Four-Letter Word for Women', Guardian, 28

July 1992,p. 31.

54

Sayers,p. 13.

55

Sadgrove,p. 31.

56

Wohmann'sown childhood was a happy one where she felt secureand loved:
"Eltern, die so lieb waren, daman sie zwischendurchkaumgemerkthaV. More
detailedinformationis providedby JOrgenSerkein FrauenSchreiben. Ein neues
Kapitel deutschsprachiger
Literatur (Frankfurta.M.: Fischer, 1982),pp. 161-175.

57

The daughtersuggeststo the motherthat she shouldmoum for the living, not the
dead: "Hr mir mal zu, Mutter: ber die Toten soll keiner weinen. Um die
LebendigenmuBman ( ) trauern" (A.M. 115). Like the daughterin Schwaiger's
...

204

LangeAbwesenheitonecould imaginethis daughterstandingat her father's grave,


talking to him.

58

ManfredJurgensen,
DeutscheFrauenautoren
der Gegenwart(Bern:Francke,1983),
p. 166.

59

D. W. Winnicott, Playing and Reality (New York: Basic Books, 1971), pp. 47-52.

60

John Carroll's description of the punishing mother is appropriate and applicable

here: "The punishing mother ( ) is violent, castrating,murdering. ( ) She


...
...
punishesand yet sheis devotedto her child. Shescourgesout of love rather than
hate" (p. 203).

61

Beauvoir,p. 320.

62

Secunda,p. 120.

63

The narratoris very awareof the way in which shetalks to her mother:

Wie rede ich denn auch mit ihrl

Kann ich sie denn nur

entweder ruppig zurechtweisen oder in einer blden


Babysprache,wie herablassend,wie unbeteiligt, nicht ernst
nehmen? Wie verkrampft ich doch immer wieder bin, ihr

205
heitereSprache
gegenber(... ) wieder ist mir die gelassene
ber sie restlosverlorengegangen.(A.M. 50)

64

The narrator even seesherself as the teacher: "Sie ist jetzt nur eine fbIgsame
Privatschlerin der Tochter, mit groen Lemschwierigkeiten" (A. M. 7).

65

Maria Fris6, 'War deineMutter sowie du?' FrankfurterAllgemeineZeitung,3 April


1985.

66

Vera, in fact, prays to God not to take her motheraway from her: "Lieber Gott,
beteteich kniend im Dom, alles kannstdu von mir haben,alles, ein Leben ohne
Glck kannstdu mir geben,nur la mir die Mama, la sie nicht sterben"(Z. 243).

67

MarianneHirsch, 'Mothers and Daughters:A Review Essay', Signs:Journal of


Womenin CWtureand Society,7 (1981),200-222(p. 204).

68

RomanRitter, 'Wer seinKind liebt, zchtigtes. Der RomanDie Zi2chtigungvon


WaltraudAnna Mitgutschl, DeutscheVolkszeitung,20 March 1985,p. 12.

69

BarbaraSaunders,ContemporaryGermanAutobiography:Literary Approachesto
the Problemof Identity (London:University of London, 1985),p. 7.

206
70

Wohmann'snarratordoesregardher motheras "Arbeitsmaterial"(A. M. 59) and


profiteersfrom their personalrelationship:"Ich will immer einenGewinnffir mich
(A.
47).
M.
rausschlagen"

71

Saunders,p. 12.

72

In an interview with Hans Fr6hlich, Wohmann made the following comment: "Ich
habejetzt etwas angefangen. Es ist das Portrt der Mutter als Witwe. Es ist sehr
das
fr
Anstrengung,
die
uerste
Und
zu schreiben, weil
es
erfordert
mich
privat.
frei
"
'So
Hans
Frhlich,
diese
Person
nahesteht.
mir sehr
es mir sehr nahegehtund

sind die Mnner nun auch wieder nicht',

Stuttgarter Nachrichten,

12 November1975.

73

The daughterin Wohmann'snovel is afraid that shewill loseher attachmentto her


denke
Zeit
"Ich
her:
finishes
schaudernd
an
eine
writing about
mother when she
ihn
(
)
Ich
dem
die
Bericht
ber
Mutter.
Ich
nicht
abschlieen.
mchte
nach
...
(A.
126).
M.
habeAngst, dich zu vernachlssigen,
so"
so oder

74

Interviewedin 1982Wohmannremarked:

Schreibendtue ich mehr fr sie im Hinblick auf Auenwelt


kleine
Unsterblichkeitsmachungsversuche
Nachwelt;
sind
und
das, von mir fr sie.

Ich finde das ja immer sehr

in
ich
Lieben
meinen
meine
wohlwollend von mir, wenn

207
Bchern auftauchen lasse, weil sie dann ein bichen
unvergnglichersind.

Klaus Siblewsld, ed. Gabriele Wohmann. Auskunftfr Leser (Darmstadtand


Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1982), pp. 39-40.

75

ich
keine
AdelbertReif, 'OhneTodesangst
Romaneschreiben.Interviewmit
wrde
Gabriele Wohmann', Die Welt, 6 July 1992, p. 7.

76

Klaus Antes, 'Bilder aus einer betrogenen Kindheit: Waltraud Anna Mitgutschs

herausragender
Erstling Die Zachtigung',RheinischePost, 27 July 1985.

77

LeonoreSchwartz,'Mtter und Tchter. Waltraud Anna MitgutschsRomanDie


26 May 1985,p. 55.
Zi7chtigung',Der Tagesspiegel,
In recentyearsa numberof womenwriters havefocusedon the guilt andcomplicity
of womenfrom the Nazi era, especiallythosewho were either victims or actedas
Marieinformers, or who participatedin the Resistance
such
as
works
movement:
ThdreseKerschbaumer'sDer weiblicheNamedes Widerstands(1980), Elisabeth
Reichart's Februarschatten(1984) and Komm ber den See (1988), and Helga
Schubert'sJudasfrauen(1990). In her analysisof Erika Mitterer's Alle unsere
SpIele(1977)andReichart'sFebruarschatten
JulietWigmoreillustratesthe fact that
that
bystanders
facist
the
concludes
and
not all womenunder
regimewere merely
thesetwo works by Austrian femalewriters do also contributeto the literatureof
Of
'Vergangenheitsbewdltigung',
date
the
been
has
concern
to
primarily
which

208
Germanspeakingmalewriters. SeeJulietWigmore,"'Vergangenheitsbewdltigung"
in Austria: The PersonalandthePolitical in Erika Mitterer'sAlle unsereSpIeleand
ElisabethReichart'sFebruarschatten',GermanLife and Letters, 44 (1991),pt.5,
477-487.

209
CHAPTER THREE: TWICE BORN: THE ADOPTED DAUGHTER

The title of this chapteris taken from Betty lean Lifton's autobiographicalwork 7WIce
Born: Memoirsof an AdoptedDaughter(1975),who at the ageof sevenhadbeenadopted
during the depressionyears in America and who recounts the searchfor her 'real' parents,
the many visits to a psychiatrist, and the eventual discovery of her parents' identity when

'
is
thirty
she
yearsold. For this adopteethe ability to feel somekind of heritageproves
to be very important to her. In addition, knowledge of her natural parents helps her to

her
husband,
identity,
her
as
a psychiatrist,
unravel confusedemotionsover
senseof
explains:

All adoptees,whetherthey're on the samewavelengthwith


their adoptiveparentsor not, sufferwhentheydon't know the
factsabouttheir origins. They feel they cannotbe complete
humanbeings.'

Thus in this book the writer is the daughterwho, like the daug ters in the previous
has
to
terms
the
but
to
her
find
is
added
come
with
true
to
trying
she
self
chapters,
is
her
being
The
mother
particularly
adoptive
relationshipwith
adopted.
complicationof
to
daughter
in
that
the
the
used
she
resentment
that
suggests
adult
retrospect
strained,so
feel towardsthis womanhad its origins in a well-hiddentruth:

"Hold me," she would say. "I am your mother, hold me."
I would wrap her in a hug for a decentinterval until I could
from
At
(
)
suchmomentsshewasasldng
escapeupstairs. ...

210

me somethingshecould not articulate,andwhich I could not


give.
Could a natural daughterhave given it? Is there a blood
feeling betweenmothers and daughtersthat a changeling
'
cannot experience?

I believethat the answerto Lifton's first questionis 'no' because,aswe sawin Mitgutsch's
Die zachtigung, expressionof love betweena mother and daughter is not automatic. The
answer to the secondquestionis not so clear-cut becausefrom the mother's perspectivethe

answermight be a 'yes', sinceshehasgivenbirth to the child andthereis a bondfrom the


start of their future relationship,the child beingproof of the reality of her own existence.
Yet thereare motherswho feel indifference,seeingthe newcomeras a stranger;somefeel
emptiness;othersfeel hostile towardsthe baby becauseof the pain it has causedand the
freedomit is likely to deny her. The mother may even reject her newbornchild. A
hence
blood
feeling"
"a
instinct
human
is
in
the
species,
maternal
not necessarilY
evident
I

does seemdoubtful. Furthermore,as illustrated in the previous chapter, the natural


daughter'sfeelingstowardsher motherarevery ambivalentandvery muchdependent
upon
the way in which sheis raised. Hencemanyadopteesmay well be deludingthemselves,
if they believethat they havein someway beendeprivedof their identity by not knowing
their true parents,as R. D. Laing points out:

There always seemsto be the assumptionthat through


establishingone'sbiologicalorigin onewill really know who
one really is. Or at leastthe negative:if one doesnot know

211

one9sparents,onecannotknow oneself. (... ) Yet the quest


to discoverwho one'sparentswere,howeverunderstandable,
'
in
itself
lead
to
cannot
oneself.

It is evidentfrom our analysisof parent-daughter


relationshipsthat naturaldaughtersare
also searchingfor their own identity throughtheir parent-portrayals.For both naturaland
adopted daughtersthere appearsto be the desire to know oneself. The quest for identity
on the part of the adopteewill be looked at more closely later in this chapter, since it does

affect the relationshipbetweenthe adopteddaughterand her adoptiveparents.


7be adopted daughter does not just appear in contemporaryGermanic women's
1 The heroineof this
literature. In 1920Hedwig Courths-MahlerwroteDie Adoptivtochter.
be
high-society
lady,
her
is
father's
to
Britta,
by
her
novel,
chosen
ex-wife, a rich,
companion,her adopteddaughter. The story is of how two cousins,one a lieutenantand
in
hand
for
Britta's
marriage. Courthsa,womaniser,the other a reliable chemist,vie
Mahler's novels fall into the category of 'Unterhaltungsromane',more --precisely
'Liebesromane'. She herself once referred to them as "harmlose M5,rchen" in which the

'
flourishes.
Courths-Mahler's
is
into
transported
romance
reader
anotherworld where
her
is
Die
Adoptivtochter
happy,
this
makes
novel
what
endings,moreover,are always
and
lessrelevantin the presentcontext. The two novelsunderconsiderationin this chapterare
GabrieleWohmann'sPaulinchenwar allein zu Haus (1974)and Helga M. Novak's Die
Eisheiligen(1979). In Wohmann'snovel eight-year-oldPaula,who is also knownas Paul
her
longer
look
her
Paulinchen,
to
since
or
and whose grandparentsare no
able
after
Kurt,
killed
in
is
by
intellectual
Christa
and
parentswere
a car accident, adopted an
couple,
who have no children of their own. For Christa and Kurt the adoptionis akin to an

212

experimentin that theyput theorieson child psychologyinto practice,whilst the two years
householdprove to be unbearablefor Paula. As in Wohmann's
spentin this emancipated
work, the narrator of Die Elshelligenis the daughterwho is adoptedas a baby by an
elderly, childlesscouple,KaltesophieandKarl, andwho recountschronologicallythe most
traumaticeventsin her life betweenthe agesof four and sixteen,the years 1939to 1951.
The narrative focuseson the conflict betweenthe adopteddaughterand Kaltesophieset
againstthe turmoil of social,historicalandpolitical eventsin Berlin. After analysingthe
relationship between adopteeand adopters, we will show that the society in which these

daughtersgrow up alsohasa role to play in theseworks. Both novelsare a far cry from
'Liebesromane'and their endingsare far from happy. In fact, as will be shown, the
absenceof love betweenan adopteddaughterand her adoptiveparentsis the common
denominator.
With the introductionof the conceptof adoptioninto the novel, Paulinchenwar allein
zu Haus and Die Eisheiligensheda different light on the daughter-parentrelationship,
providing anotherperspective. This is especiallythe casewhen we recognisethat the
narratorsare not adult daughtersreflecting on their past relationshipwith their mother
daughters
father
but
from
who recounteventsas
and/or
a present-daystandpoint, young
they unfold. At the start of Wohmann'snovel the narrator, Paula, is agedeight; at the
7
has
is
Novak's
between
ten
autobiography a narratorwho
closeshe
andelevenyearsold.
is agedfour at the outsetand is sixteenby the end of this narrative. The'readeris thus
'invited' to seeeverythingthroughthe eyesof theseyounggirls, to perceivethe world as
they do, as they grow up into adolescents. Needlessto say, both works, just as in
previouslyanalysednovels,are biasedtowardsthe daughter'spoint of view. Nevertheless,
the adoptionaspectdoesraisethe questionas to whetherthis relationshipbetweenadopted

213

daughtersandadoptiveparentsis so dissimilarfrom that of blood-relateddaughtersandif


so, in what way this differs. This analysisintendsto suggestsomeanswersto these
look
by
figures.
first
instance
In
the
two
the
at the
questions comparing
we shall
adopted
significanceof eachnovel's title by investigatingits relationto the text. The roles of the
narrators will then be compared to see to what extent the lives of these two adopted

be
daughters
daughtersare comparable.
Parental
their
towards
will
authorityandattitudes
illustratedin connectionwith the behaviourof eachdaughter,in order to try andestablish
been
have
daughter
deserves
the
the
the
treatment
parents
whether
shereceivesand whether
conditioned by their upbringing and/or society. The role of adoption will be highlighted

throughoutthis chapterwith particularreferenceto eachdaughter'sunderstanding


of what
it meansto be adopted.It is worth notingthatWohmann'snarratorknowsthat sheis being
finds
by
is
Novak's
chance
out
only
narrator
adoptedwhen she eight yearsold, whereas
implications
its
is
identity
will
The
and psychological
whenshe elevenyearsold.
aspectof
be featuredas an integral part of coming to terms with adoption. Finally, we shall
highlight the social/historicalsettingof eachnarrativeto seeto what extent, if at all, the
is
writer expressingcriticism.
On Christmas Eve, 1844, Doctor Heinrich Hoffmann presentedto his son, Carl, a book

Biedermeier
handpainted
illustrations
depicting
the
u ringing.
of
a
virtues
of
andcaptions
Within a month 1500copiesof the book hadbeenprinted and were sold to parentswho
into
by
deterrent
in
their
children
scaring
would use the stories the book as a form of
Die
tale,
book
The
gar
Struwwelpeter
Der
andonesuchcautionary
obedience.
wasentitled
trawige Geschichtemit dem Feuerzeug,featuresPaulinchen. The four stanzasquoted
below form the beginningand end of the story:

214
Paulinchen war allein zu Haus

die Eltern warenbeideaus.


Als sie nun durch das Zimmer sprang
mit leichtemMut und Sing und Sang,
da sah sie pltzlich vor sich stehn

ein Feuerzeug,nett anzusehn.


"Ei, " sprachsie, "ei, wie schnund fein!
Das mu ein trefflich Spielzeug sein.
Ich znde mir ein Hlzchen an,

"
die
hat
Mutter
oft
getan.
wie's

Und Minz und Maunz, die Katzen,


ihre
Tatzen.
erheben
Sie drohenmit denPfoten:
"Der Vater hat's verboten!

Miau. Mio. Miau. Mio.


La stehn!sonstbrennstdu lichterloh!

Verbranntist alles ganzund gar,


das armeKind mit Haut und Haar;
bleibt
Huflein
Asche
allein
ein
fein.
hbsch
beide
Schuh,
und
so
und

215

Und Minz und Maunz, die kleinen,


die sitzenda und weinen:

Miau. Mio. Miau. Mio.


"Wo sind die armenEltern? Wo?"
Und -ihreTrnenflieen,
wie's Bchlein auf den Wiesen. 8

Referencesto the origins of Wohmann's title are made a number of times in the text, in

particular the fact that the narrator, Paula,also likes to be known as Paulinchen,usually
when she feels like being cuddled,just as her dolls have diminutive name forms, for
example,"Uddinchen"(P.H. 48) who hasbeenshownso muchlove that sheis disfigured
from all theembracesandIdsses.
' Paulausesthe first line "Paulinchenwar allein zu Haus"
as the headingto the note she writes to her adoptiveparentsin which she expressesthe
wish to attenda boarding-school.Within the novel the fide can be interpretedliterally:
Paula was physically alone in the housewhen she wrote the note. However, the wider
significanceis that shefeels that sheis aloneall the time, eventhoughoneof her adoptive
parents,if not both, is alwaystherewith her or in thevicinity. This apparentcontradiction
betweenPaula's feelingsand reality will be discussedlater, for now thoughit shouldbe
notedthat both parentswere outsidewhenshewrote the note, so that onelink betweenthe
TeuerzeugGeschichte'and Paula'snote is that both setsof parentsare not presentwhen
they are neededmost. Paula, for example,reachesa decisionabout her future without
being able to talk to her adoptive parents about this and on account of the lack of
communicationbetweenthem.

216

Wohmanndoesnot concludeher novel with the daughtersettingfire to herself. In an


interview in 1974sheexplainedthat shehad decidedon the title after shehad written the
10
had,
intended
borrow
from
Stniwwelpeter.
Der
therefore,
to
too
novel and
not
much
Nevertheless,
thenoveldoesendwith Pauladescribingher adoptiveparentsas "Ihr Armen"
(P.H. 235), whilst in Hoffmann's text the cats question the whereaboutsof "die armen

Eltern". In both instancesthe descriptionimplies sympathyfor the parentsbecausethey


losetheir daughters.However,in Wohmann'snovel, Paularefersto her adoptiveparents,
Christa and Kurt, as "arm" a couple of times." The use of 'poor' has nothing to do with

their financial situation, insteadit refers to their lack of emotionsor their inability to
is,
demonstratively.
therefore,one of pity.
final,
Paula's
these
comment
express
parting
Theseadopters,who pride themselveson knowing so much and being so clever, cannot
learn the lessonof compassion.This is evidentfrom the daughter'scommentthat they do
not respondto her needfor sympathy:"Aber keinersagteArinesundniemandsahmitleidig
117).
The
(P.
H.
dem
Vorsatz,
trsten
readercan
aus"
und auch nur annhrendnach
zu
thusunderstandthe reasonbehindPaula'suseof "Idioten" as anotherreferenceto Christa
'idiots'
journalists
intellectual,
Kurt.
In
are
these
the eyesof their adoptee
enlightened
and
becausethey cannotcommunicatewith her on her level of understanding:"lhr sei o ne
jedes GefOhl( ) 1hr Idioten" (P.H. 116)."
...

It should be noted, too, that the cats in

Hoffmann's story warn Paulinchenverbally with "Der Vater hat's verboten!" Once the
daughterhas ignored the threat and disobeyedher father, punishmentis inevitable. In
Hoffmann's stories retribution for misdeedsis unrealistically grisly: death by fire or
Wohmann's
is
for
As
be
the
true
of
opposite
shown,
physicalamputation, example.
will
novelwherepunishmentis intentionallyomittedfrom Paula'supbringing.In Novak'swOrki

217

however,the daughterdoesknow the meaningof punishment.Her upbringingis, in fact,


reminiscentof Mitgutsch'sDie Michtigung.
The reasoningbehindtheideaof the "Eisheiligen"for Novak's title is revealedtowards
the closeof the book whenthe daughtertries to explainthe driving force behindher wish
to leave home. According to the narrator, the 15th May, the birthday of her adoptive
day
last
Kaltesophie,
the
saint
of the Ice Saints,one
mother,whom shecalls
coincideswith
"
'the
blackthom
This
is
four
falls
day
during
of threeor
winter'.
called
saintswhose
what
is the secondweek in May when there can be an unusual changein the weather resulting

in heavyfrost. The significanceof the title thus lies in its appropriateness


with regard,
firstly, to the adoptivemother:

Wer ist Kaltesophie?


Sie hat am 15. Mai Geburtstag.
Das versteheich nicht.
Kaltesophieist die letzteEisheilige,fnfzehnterMai.
(E.H.

217)14

If we translatethe Greekword 'CrOtf (CVmeaning'wisdom', then 'cold wisdom' pertains


to the cruel, dominant streak in the mother's nature conflicting with her role as a mother-15

There is the very fact that her birthday coincideswith one of the Ice Saints' daysas well
11 as her lack of warmth, as indicatedby the adjectiveTalt'. It shouldalso be pointedout
because
'Herzog
Alba'
that thedaughtercontemplates
this mothergrew
to
the
altering name
up in Belgium,andduring the sixteenthcenturythis particulardukehadearnedhimselfthe
her
likens
'Iron
Duke'
daughter
Alba
dictatorship.
title of
The
of
as a resultof his military

218

adoptivemotherto this tyrant, but opts to continuecalling her 'Kaltesophie'. The plural
inclusion
father,
'die
Karl, who,
Eisheiligen'
the
the
the
useof
noun
suggests
adoptive
of
in
daughter
is
his
be
being
towards
a
adopted
as will
shown, also capableof
aggressive
givensituation;by playingtherole of parenthe sharestheresponsibilityfor her upbringing,
althoughhis lack of compassionand understandingfor his daughter'eventualrebellious
due to frequenthospitalisation.Thirdly,
naturestemsin the main from his long absences
the narrator has becomeone of the family through being adoptedand has, therefore,
become one of the Ice Saints. The reader is made aware of this gradually. Initially, she
is able to empathisewith these saints: "die Eisheiligen schienen mir besondersvertraut"

(E.H. 157),thensheseesherselfasoneof them: "ich bleibelieber bei denEisheiligen,den


GestrengenHerren, den schrecklichenFrstenirn Mai, weil ich mich selberdazurechne"
(E.H. 168) and finally, she adoptsthe nameof one of thesesaints, the pseudonymof
'Pankmcia'for her writing." Tankratius' or 'Pankraz'is, in fact, Greekfor someonewho
fights with all meansand St. Pancrasis one of the Ice Saints." We shall seethat this
love
knowledge
daughter
of
of
adopted
grows up in circumstanceswhich engenderno
into
her
She
her
indicate.
bouts
depression
aggression
even channels
mankind, as
of
Furthermore,
being
towards
is
she
others.
cruel
attemptsat self-destructionand capableof
doesfight backin her own way: throughwriting a diary andpoetry. Ultimately, sherebels
befits
Novak's
the
her
thus,
be
title,
peoplewhose
against upbringing,as will
explained.
liable
book.
All
to showangry
is
her
three
to
the
are
relationship one another
subjectof
the
fiery
The
motherof
predominance
outbursts,spontaneous
violenceand
vehemence.
figure, however,is mostnoticeable,as well as the way in which this title may be regarded
as a contradictionin terms: 'ice' suggestingcoldnessand hardness,'saint' warmth and
11 It is a contradictionin accordancewith the peculiarity of heavy frost during
Idndness.

219

mid-May but it is not made explicit in the book, unless we are supposedto regard
Kaltesophieas a saint for having adopteda young orphan. Interestingly, Simonede
Beauvoircommentson the comparabilityof motherhoodand sainthood,the fact that men,
in particular,confersuchpraiseuponmotherson accountof their generositytowardstheir
children, expecting no return for what they give.

Beauvoir sees the dangers of such

laudation:"the distortionbeginswhen the religion of maternityproclaimsthat all mothers


are saintly"Y' It will becomeclear that Kaltesophieis anythingbut a saint.
Novak has written a secondautobiographical novel, Vogelfederlos (1982) which is a
sequelto Die Eisheiligen, since there is no break in the story and it highlights the narrator's

life as a seventeen-and eighteen-year-old


in a cadreboarding-schoolin East Germany.
As in the caseof Paulinchenwar allein zu Haus, Vogelfederlosoriginatesin poeticform,
this time from a riddle:

Es flog ein Vogel


federlos
der setztesich auf einenBaum
blattlos
da kam eine Frau
fuBlos
und nahmihn gefangen
handlos
Sie hat ihn gebraten

feuerlos
-

220

und hat ihn gefressen


20

- mundlos.

Each of the six chapters in the book is headed by one couplet. There
are no other
referenceswithin the text itself to the "Vogel federlos". It must be assumedthat the bird
without feathers alludes to the daughter who managesto free herself from her adoptive
parents, yet has no power to use that freedom. She swaps the discipline at home for the
regime of a Communist state-run boarding-school. The state becomes her 'father', the
Communist party her 'mother.

The solution to the original riddle is that the "Vogel", is

a snowflake, the "Frau" is the sun. The idea of 'ice' might, therefore, be seen to be
continued in the imagery of the 'snowflake'. The implication is that the young girl is likely
to become swallowed up by a Draconian system, since the 'sun' is probably in this case
symbolic of the Communist party, whoseidentity the daughterassumes. If Courths-Mahler
was able to describe her novels as "harmlos", the origins of the tides of Wohmann's and
Novak's novels may be found in fairy-tale circumstancesbut they are far from "harmlos".
The protagonists, for example, find themselvesin near fatal situations, such as attempted
suicide. At the same time, as will be shown, Wohmann and Novak are intent upon
revealing the dangersbehind theory and practice, be it within the home or in society."
The protagonist-cum-narratorof Paulinchen war allein zu Haus is the adopteddaughter,

Paula. Sinceher parentsand sisterwere killed in an accident,Paulahasbeenliving for


five yearswith her grandparents.
' At the ageof eight, when the narrativebegins,sheis
adoptedby ChristaandKurt, two journalistswho havebeenmarriedfor sixteenyearsand
who want to put progressivetheoreticalapproachesto child-raisinginto practice.21 After

221

approximatelythreeyearstheir adopteddaughterwantsto leaveto attendboarding-school


so that she can escapethe'gaze of these over-zealous"Erkldrungsprofis" (P.H. 10),
"Erziehungsfanadker"
(P.H. 234)or "Freiheitsverfechter"(P.H. 169). This bookis based
on thedaughter'scontinuousreflectionson her interactionwith her newparents.Theseare
not childish thoughts, everything she says is articulate and what she does or feels is

before
Kurt
be
how
far
Christa
It
they
to
test
and
premeditated. seems
a
shecanpush
of
react spontaneouslyand show their true emotions, without referring to their childpsychology books to understandtheir adopteddaughter:

Austausch einiger fast befriedigter, fast triumphierender


LehrbuchblickezwischenChristaund Kurt. ( ... ) Verdammt
ich
diese
Leute
kann
Wie
bin
ich,
dachte
das
Kind.
machtlos
denn mal wenigstensein bichen nachdenklichund ratlos
ihrer
ich
denn
kann
aus
mal
wenigstens
machen,wie
sie
Reserverausbringen,wennschonkeineVerwirrungun

ine

Verstrungbei ihnengeht. (P.H. 21)

Throughoutthe text the narratorrefersto herselfas "dasKind", andit certainlyappearsto


be the child who attemptsto teachtheparentsa lessonandnot vice versa24Whilst Christa
.
if
her
Kurt
Paula's
behaviour
shewerea guinea
as
actions,
and
are studying
andanalysing
pig for experimentationwith new educationalmethods,sheis the onewatchingtheir every
move, listeningin on conversations,overhearingtelephonediscussions,anticipatingtheir

reactions.

222

Wohmannhasbeencriticisedfor portrayingan unrealisticdaughter-figurebecause


Paula
is far too clever for her age. HansWagener,for example,suggeststhat the authordoes
not know what the intellectualcapacityof an eight-year-oldis: "Was Paula in Inneren
Monologen und Erlebter Rede auf mehr als 200 Seiten ausdrcktbzw. aufzunehmen
imstandeist, wre sprachlichund intellektuel hchstensvon einer Vierzehnjhrigenzu

leisten."25Thewriter'sresponse
to thishasbeenthatshedoesnotconsidertheageof her
protagonistto be of importanceor of relevance- this probablyexplainsthe confusionover
16

Paula's age at the close of the narrative.

She also believes that no one child is like

is
her
is
because
Paula
that
she
artistic creation.
another and
an untypical, child

Furthermore,she points out that she has actuallyput a lot of herself into this daughterfigure."

On the one hand Paulabehaveslike a child, on the other hand her ability to

in
Wohmann.
this
her
language
that
case
an
adult,
of
analyseand
useof
are on a par with
This accounts,therefore,for Paulaappearingto be advancedfor her ageand the maturity
forgotten,
be
It
too,
her
flaws
should
not
the
parents.
with which shereveals
adoptive
of
that ChristaandKurt treat her as an adult and want her to behaveaccordingly,as will be
illustratedlater. Similarly, the effect of traumaticpast eventson the young child should
be takeninto consideration,as Wohmanninforms us: "Zu dem Vorwurf der Altklugheit
kann
(
)
hat
Vorgeschichte
besondere
da
es
wreauchnochzu sagen, es schlielicheine
...
focusing
"21
This
Denken.
in
on
notion of
sich nirgendwohinzurckziehenals seineigenes
discussed,
inner
be
when we considerwhat role
onegs
self as a sourceof comfort will
her
does
in
It
the
daughter's
lives.
of
seemthat through guise
writing plays eachof these
narratorWohmannis presentinga study of how not to raise children, thoughat the same
time shefails to provide an alternative,better method. Ironically, shetoo is the theorist,
sinceshehas had no children of her own.

223
In complete contrast to all this theorising, Novak's Die Eisheiligen is the

autobiographicalstoryof the upbringingof a younggirl by her adoptiveparentsduringthe


period 1939-1951in the GDR. The narratoris onceagainthe adopteddaughter,giving an
accountof her life from the ageof four to sixteenas a first-personnarrative. Her name
is never mentioned in the text. The strength of Novak's novel lies in its chronological

assimilationof autobiographicalmaterialsetagainsta backgroundof historicaleventsand


the overwhelming assumptionthat life goes on, whatever happens and whatever
circumstancesone has to face. Novak depicts the effects of National Socialism in BerlinK6penick, the Russian occupation, the developmentof the GDR and the cold war in both

her autobiographicalnovelsby highlighting everydayexistenceduring this period. The


destructionof buildingsby bombs,the continuousstreamsof namelesspeopleon the move,
hungerand despair,all are commonfeaturesof this novel. As Ursula Bessenpointsout,
Novak presentsprivate issuesas havingpolitical relevance,which recallsone of the main
tenetsof the Women's Movement "das,Private ist politisch", althoughin this casethe
for
family
their
does
just
domestic
depict
own
squabbles
and
womanwriter
setting
not
a
have
house
four
beyond
the
Instead
it
the
walls of
sake.
shemakes very clear that events
their impacton family relationshipsandimpingeon people'sattitudeand behaviourto one
another:

Der Faschismusbildet nicht nur den allgemeinenpolitischen


Hintergrund dieser privaten Biographie, sondern er wird
sichtbargeradein seinergelebten,konkretenAlltglichkeit,
29

in der Familie, in der Schule,der Nachbarschaft.

224

The crashof a fighter-bomberin front of the house;witnessingthe removalof the pilot's


crushedbody; sirensduring the daytime;deadanimalslittering the streets;evacuation;the
occupationby the Russianarmy, such are the eventswhich fill this child's life. The
relationship between the daughter and mother is in fact intensified by these daily
occurrences. The narrative becomespoignant when the reader recognisesthe extent to

in
it
flourishes
horror
to
the
which violenceand
are not confined
outsideworld: existsand
the family circle andeventuallydestroysany humanbonds. Conversely,it mighthavebeen
expected that such external events would have brought the adopted daughter and her

adoptiveparentsclosertogether,sincetragediesduring times of conflict do tend to bring


daughter
fight
like
in
However,
Eishelligen
Die
together.
the
and
mother
people
caseof
hostile soldiers,as the teenagerherselfnotesin one of her poems:

Warumist von allenMttern


geradediesemeine
wo wir doch wie zwei feindlicheSoldaten
aufeinanderstoen
und uns zerschmettern
196)
(E.
H.
dann
fr
immer
und
auseinanderfliehen.

Racism and anti-communismare even evidentin the mother's punitive threats,such as


when she tells her daughterthat Russiansare coming to nail her tongueto the table; the
join
the
her
father,
is
decision
her
her
to
time
hits
the
only
an anti-communist,
result of
FDJ. Their relationship,onein which the daughterbattlesagainsther mother'styrannyand
misuseof power, is clearly interwovenin the socialconcernsof the time:

225

Erlebnisse dieser Art verstrken die Identifizierung des


eignenenNeu-Anfangsder DDR-Grndung mit dem ein
deutscherStaatgeschaffenwerden sollte, der frei von der
verhngnisvollen
und reaktionrenTendenzender bisherigen
Geschichtewre. Schlielichist dieser neueStaat ihr bei
ihrem persnlichenBefreiungskampfauch behilflich:

sie

bekommteinenPlatzim InternateinerLandesoberschule 10
...

The issue of adoption, then, doesnot appearto be of primary concern in Novak's novel.

Yet the conflict betweenthe adopteddaughterandher parentshighlightsthe constraintsof


dictatorial discipline upon an individual, whilst Wohmann depicts the constraintsof
theoreticalrules and the ensuingdamagingeffects. The one is so authoritarian,the other
so liberal, but both setsof parentslive by a setof rules. There is no comfort or security
to be found within the four walls of either family. No words of affectionare ever uttered
by the mother, father or daughterin the contextof their relationshipsin Die Eisheiligen.
In Paulinchenwar allein zu Haus Pauladoesattemptto display feelingsof love, suchas
holding hands,embracingChrista and Kurt, even readingstoriesto them, but she soon
indication
is
brought
love
is
A
this
any
up without
gives up when
unrequited. child who
learn
love
has
to
to
her
for
turn
to
of
and who cannot
and
understanding
support
parents
deal with feelings of bitternessand resentment,as well as recognisethe failures of its
parentsbefore blaming itself, otherwisesuicidemay well becomea yearned-forescape
because
both
In
fail
daughters
to
their
route. eachnovel
setsof parentsare shown
adopted
eachgirl hasno wish to stayany longerat homethan shehasto. In Wohmann'swork the
two adults, describedby Paulaas "Schreibmaschinengespenster"
(P.H. 116)are so clever

226

with words, writing articlesfor magazinesand radio programmes,and so knowledgeable


aboutthe rights and wrongsof how to raisea child, consultingthe up-to-datepsychology
books, but at the sametime they are devoid of emotions. They cannotrespondto their
adopteddaughter'sneedfor love andsecuritybecausethey are so dependent
on reasonand
discussion. For them the answersare all in black and white, as Wohmann stresses:

Die Adoptierenden ( ) sind vollautomatischbewut ...


aufgeklrt - modern. So wissen sie selbstverstndlichalles

Einschlgigeber Kinderpsychologie,und sie handelnnach


den Informationen,nie aber nacheinemspontanenGefhl?'

Hence; theseadoptersbelievethat they do understandtheir "Problempaula"(P.H. 127).


Their intentionsare well meaningbecausethey do want their adopteddaughterto be
In
the
her
as
a
child.
that
treat
not
they
and
an
equal
as
sensibleand mature so
can
love.
Recognition
however,
her
fail
or
they
to give
process,
any warmth, understanding
"Das
BOse
from
Greene:
Graham
failure
is
in
ist ein
this
Paula's
of
encapsulated
quotation
Mangel an Liebe" (P.H. 108and 184).
This penchanton the part of Paula'sparentsfor theoriesas well as their inability to
for
life.
Toys,
in
feelings
love
their
for
her
expressany
of
are apparent other areasof
hatten
Kurt
life:
daughter's
"Christa
have
didactic
in
und
a
example,must
purpose their
Kind
das
denen
Spielsachen,
funktionelle
Sachen
didaktisch
mit
angeschafft,
neue
konstruktivbauen,ineinanderfgen,
herstellen,insgesamt:durchSpiellernensollte" (P.H.
48). Her old dolls are no longer allowedto be cuddled,either for hygienicreasonsor on
fact
the
indicative
of
accountof their value - they are also a sign of Paula'spast and are

227

that she is still a child. Her dolls' kitchen and dolls' schoolare 'rescued'by her new
parentsbecausethey are valuable and regardedas "abbildungsreifes,austellungsreifes
Spielzeugauseinemvergangenen
Jahrhundert"(P.H. 50). Thus, the child's toys serveas
ornamentsin the new homewhere ChristaandKurt want everythingto look aesthetically
pleasing: "Der gesamte kindliche Kram war gut organisiert. Penibel und nach einem

isthedschenSystemin die Erwachseneneinrichtung


gemischt"(P.H. 52). The emphasison
modernness
and aestheticismin the contextof housefurnishingsis meantto illustratethe
fact that the daughter's surroundingsare sterile and thereby createa stark contrast with the
"
felt
Paula
loved.
her
home,
warmth and cosinessof
safe and
where
grandparents'

The

physical environmentclearly intensifies the daughter'ssenseof desolationbecauseit


underlinesthe parents' liking of modem ways and ideas which correspondwith their
treatmentof Paula:

Alles Diskutierenund Verhandelnendeteauch diesmalmit

Haus,dachte
demdir zuliebe.( ) Paulinchen
war
allein
zu
...
das Kind wie immer, wenn es sich nach einer von diesen
Bewutseinserweiterungen
sogenannten
undAufklarungen
im
Stich gelassenfhlte. Nach dem letzten Wort, nach dem
befriedigtenAusdruckChristasundKurts, war
abschlieenden
es immer besondersallein. Am alleralleinsten.
(P.H. 175-176)

Discussionis impossiblein the householddepictedby Novak: here actionsdo speak


louderthanwordsbut the actionsdo not illustratecareandaffection. KaltesophieandKarl,

228

like Christa and Kurt, are unableto show any signsof love for their adopteddaughter.
Lack of communicationis an obviousproblem in both families. Although it seemsthat
Christaand Kurt are keento discussproblemswith Paula,shedoesnot confidein them,
insteadshebecomesmore and more introverted. In Die Elsheiligenthe silenceis broken
by either the daughter's screamsas she suffers yet another beating, or by Kaltesophie's

in
demands,
intended
for
the
the
child,
noted
as
angry
good of
ordersand criticisms- all
the analysisof Mitgutsch's novel. All the parentsdo appearto executetheir methodsof
child-raising with the best intentions. There is an additional, potential area of conflict in
Novak's novel and that is the generationgap betweenadopteeand adopters:Kaltesophieand

Karl are in their mid-fiffies when they bring up their adoptedadolescentdaughter.


Novak'snarratorgoesto greatlengthsto showtheadoptivemother'spowerfulhold over
her adopteddaughter. Kaltesophiehandlesher child by using either an implement,such
frighten
She
broom
by
birch,
for
thus
threats.
can
as a
or
corporalpunishment,or voicing
and force her child into being submissiveand obedient. The first time she suggests
throwing her daughterout of the housealongwith a letter addressedto an orphanage,the
is
knows
All
that, unlessshe
her
she
child cannotcomprehend mother'swordsor actions.
behaves,her motherwill not want to keepher any longer. Shehadnot knownhithertothat
shewasadopted,hencethe confusedchild facesthe dangerof her 'real' mother'srejection
her
loss
is
to
Kaltesophie
truth
the
advantage.
to
well-hidden
and
of security.
able use
daughter
her
Verbal threatshavetheir substance
truth
to
terrified
whom
the
as shereveals
shecalls "das Biest":

Obgleich sie meinenFall behandelt,gibt es keinen Blick,


keine Brcke zwischenuns. ()

229

Nein, schreit sie, nie und nimmermehr. ich bin nicht


gentigt,das Biest einenTag lngerunter meinemDach zu
behalten. Damit du es weit, du bist nicht mein Kind, und
bist es in den ganzenzwlf Jahrenauchnicht geworden,die
Mglichkeitendazuhattestdu. Wer hat dich dennaus dem
Heim geholt? Ich, ich, ich und nochmalich. Und nichts
warst du, und nichts hastdu gehabt,nicht mal eine Mutter.
(E.H. 143)

Kaltesophie'sbelief that her daughtershouldbe eternallygratefulto her for havingchosen


her from all the otherorphansis onethatpermeates
her narrative. Accordingto Beauvoir,
it is in fact a characteristicof punishingmothersin generalthat "frequentlythey expecttoo
much in the way of gratitude for their care" and certainly this was evident in Die
fears about
Zachtigung." This attitudeis probablydue to the mother'sown deep-seated
eventuallylosing her child, her senseof vulnerability and lack of confidence. In Die
Elsheiligenthe motherimplies that shehas doneher daughtera favour, by adoptingher:
just aswe notedin otherdaughter-parent
is
the
relationships, suggestion that obedienceand
respectcan be purchased.The child's pleasfor forgivenessare futile, so that by the time
shereachesher teenssheappearsto havebecomeindifferent. The motheris no longer a
personto be feared,but ignoredand evenridiculed. Hencethe situationbetweenmother
and daughteris reversed:

Du hastkeinenNamen,du heiteinfachNichts.
Sucheich mir selbereinen.

230

Na, dennmanlos, unsernNamenbehltstdujedenfallsnicht.


Paaah. Wer von euch beiden wollte eigentlich ein Kind
adopfieren?
Ich nicht, da kannstdu sichersein.
Na, siehst du. Es ist also gar nicht dein Name, den

du mir wegnehmenwillst. (E.H. 211)

This aspect of the obligation of gratitude for having been adopted is one which does

distinguishthesetwo novelsfrom otherdaughter-parent


relationshipsin this study. In some
way thesetwo adopteddaughtersare supposedto regardthemselvesas privilegedto have
been selectedby theseadults, thoughit shouldbe pointed out that this is not a general
attitude on the part of the adopterstowards their adoptedchildren. In the case of
Wohmann'snovel, Christacommentsupon the fact that they are forfeiting muchof their
private life for the sakeof Paula: "Wir machenes uns nicht leicht. Wir nehmenes ernst
mit ein Erz ehen,womit wir EinbuenunseresPrivatlebensin Kauf und auf unsnehmen"
(P.H. 112). For theseparentsthe act of adoptionnot only meansthat they are sacrificing
somepart of their own lives but it also signifiesdoing somethinggood and beneficialfor
"
in
"gesellschaftliche
Alibifunktion":
Paula
the
society general: adoptionof
servesas a

Adopflerenwollen, das ist schon sowieso eine gute


Eigenschaft,sie sprichtfr sich. Darauskannmanschlieen,
daLeute, die ein Kind adoptierenwollen, auchnochandere
gute Eigenschaftenhabenund da sie es ernstnehmen- mit

231

demLeben,mit der Not, die esunterdenMenschengibt, da


sie gute Vorstzehabenund so weiter. (P.H. 17)

For Christa the adoptionof this young girl servesanotherpurpose:she is wanting to


improve her career prospectsby writing a book for children, hencethe "10bernahme"(P.H.

5,49,61) of Paula is seenas a scientific experiment,whereby Paula is "ein besonders


Klasse"
Lemmaterial
Anschauungsobjekt,
Schaustck,
erster
ein
ergiebiges
ein richtiges
(P.H. 5 1). By highlighting thesefunctional purposesof adoption, Wohmann doesshow that
Christa and Kurt are primarily concernedwith themselvesand that they will not be able to

been
having
is
hardly
the
after
surprising
understand needsof an adoptedchild, which
marriedfor sixteenyearsand havingconcentrated
completelyon their respectivecareers.
These two intellectualscannot comprehendhow any child would be unhappy or
dissatisfiedliving with them becausethey believethat they provide the ideal am iencein
is
free
t
develop.
to
Paula
They
in
is
she
pleases
that
tell
go
where
she
which a child can
house:
has
her
house;
does
an
entire
own, she
open-plan
she
not needa room of

Du hast doch berallhin freien Zugangwie jeder von uns.


Du bist nirgendwoim ganzenHaus nicht zugelassen. Du
kannst gehen, stehen, sitzen, spielen, wo du willst.

Du

kannstlebenwie wir Erwachsenen.(P.H. 61)

Their wish to treat Paulaas an adult pervadesthis narrativeand manifestsitself in various


them
by
For
three
of
they
the
all
example,
ways.
celebrate signing of adoptionpapers
drinIdngchampagne;they allow her to stayup late to watchadult movies;they encourage

232

her to watch them as they exercisein the nude so that at the sametime she is taughtby
Christa to recognisethe physicaland sexualdifferencesbetweenmen and women. As
HermannBurger explains,the parents'obsessionwith nakednessresultsfrom their own
prudish upbringing: "Nur weil fr die Adoptivelternin ihrer Jugenddie Nacktheitetwas
Verbotenes und Skandalumwitterteswar, glauben sie nun, das Versumte nachholenund

PaulalebendigenAnschauungsunterricht
ber den mnnlichenund den weiblichenKrper
11
erteilenzu mOssen". Their emphasison sexualfreedomis alsoindicativeof the liberated
attitudes of society in the late sixties and early seventies. Certainly, Christa and Kurt do
regard themselves as eliberale und tolerante Anhnger des Prinzips der persnlichen

Freiheit" (P.H. 199) and believe that they never make mistakeswith regard to their
"
because
Paula
book.
They will merelygive good
live
the
they
to
upbringingof
according
adviceand only disallow something,if it were to harm Paulain someway. They refuse
to be authoritarianandwill not inflict punishment,which they seeas a factor for happiness
in their household:

()

weit du, andereKinder, wenn man andereKinder aus

ihrem Verbots-undBestrafungsalltagsleben
reienwrdeund
in
hierher
fr
Tage,
uns
unsere
zu
rettenwrde nur
ein paar
besonderefreiheitlicheKameradschaft,
dieseanderenKinder,
die allerdingswrdendafr, wie hier zusammengelebt
wird,
von der erstenMinute an dankbarsein, doch ja, dankbar.
(P.H. 113)

233

The conceptof freedomis continuallypoundedinto Paula's thoughtsand yet she is


watchedmostof the time by either Christaor Kurt. When groupsof friendsget together
in the evenings,sheis the topic of conversation;on thephoneChristadiscusses
her adopted
daughter'sbehaviourwith a friend. It is somewhatironic that on the one hand, these
parents are of the opinion that they offer a perfect, harmonious setting where there are

keinerleiBegrenzung"
keineseelischenErpressungen,
keinegeistigenVergewaltigungen,
(P.H. 210) but on the other hand, they make too many demandson an eight-year-old girl:
they want her to be independent,not to play with dolls, not to use her chamber-pot, not to

be embarrassed
by her sex. Sheis evensentto a psychologistfor a few weeksto improve
her speech. As Wohmannherselfexplains,thesetwo parentsallow most thingsbut what
bad:
they definitely do not allow is the spontaneous
good
or
expressionof emotions,

Einiges machendie adoptierendenengagiertenSchngeister


auch richtig.

Oder zu richtig.

Verboten ist z.B., im

herkmmlichen Sinn, grundstzlichnichts, es gibt aber


Sperren, Regeln, Spielregeln, Gesetze.

Es gibt die

'
Grenzwerte,ber die Gefhlenicht hinaussollen?

Paula'sreactionto all the theorisingandendlessexplanationsis to put herselfon guardand


be
fact,
into
her
in
She
to
told off or evenpunished
thoughts.
prefer
own
would,
retreat
by her adoptedparentsbecauseat leastthat would be a form of attentionandwould indicate
H.
(P.
PrOgel"
She
feels
is
"ein
Hund
that she
the presenceof emotions.
ohne
geprilgelter
87), since she suffers more from having to fulfil Christa's and Kurt's expectations,and
is
behave
in
is
There
so much
naturally an environmentwhere she not at ease.
cannot

234

freedomthat it has the oppositeeffect on her: she spendsgreat lengthsof time in the
bathroom,the only placethat has a door and key: "Das Kind f0h1temanchmal,wie ein
Atemkrampf,der ihm denHals und die Brust einengte,sich pltzlich lste, wennes einen
hinter sich herumgedreht"(P.H. 63). Behind the locked door Paulais able to
SchIfissel.
relax, away from prying eyes. Not only doesshe physically retreat but, as mentioned
before, she turns to her thoughtswhere shecan find privacy in an atmosphere,which is
fact
despite
it
be
the
that the
that
to
otherwise so overwhelming
suffocating,
proves
is
emphasis on freedom and openness: "Aber so oft merkte das Kind, dag es ganz
75).
konnte"
(P.
H.
war
and
nicht
richtig
verkrampft
atmen

In Die Eishelligenthe daughter'sdesirefor freedomis to be foundin farawaycountries


"
is
finish.
longing
In
from
the openingscene
to
the
a
which pervades narrative
start
and
the child standswith Kaltesophieon the harbourquay, watchinga ship sailing, its loud
first
introduces
her
four-year-old.
first
In
the
the
this
narrator
paragraph
sirensupsetting
her
be
It
of
childhood.
recollection
must assumed,therefore, that this scenemadean
keywords
"Kaltesophie",
impression
her.
incident
The
as
such
on
contains
enormous
"Wasser",and "Heulen" (E.H. 5), althoughtheir significancecanonly be appreciatedafter
the whole narrativehasbeenread. Water is a crucial element,sinceit providesan escape
in
drowning
by
the
distant
the
to
commit
suicide
seas
shoresor onecan
route: onecan sail
local river." The conceptof freedomlinked to sailingawayto foreign placeswith exotic
Concordia.
daughter
her
in
is
between
the
aunt,
and
adopted
names revealed conversations
It is her aunt's tales about Africa which bring hope of anotherlifestyle elsewhere. The
is
is
loolcing
for
lifestyle
better
West
to
that
the
not, necessarily,the solution
a
suggestion
to everyone'sproblemsin East Germany. This young girl dreamsof going south, to
friendliness,
and
is
the
coldness
of
and
warmth
given
which
countries
understandable,

235

austerityof her upbringing. Shelongs for her own releasefrom captivity: "die Freiheit,
fr immer dasFensteroffen zu lassen"(E.H. 227). Contrastingly,then, the daughterwho
has no freedomwantsto get away as far as possiblefrom home, whilst the daughterto
whom so muchfreedomis offered searchesfor a safehavenwithin herself.
In addition to the mental stressboth daughtersalso suffer physically. As a young child

Novak's daughter-figureis often sick and confinedto bed, sometimesas a direct result of
her motherbeatingher senseless.When the five-year-oldhas a fit of coughs,the doctor
is called in but there is no medical reasonfor the coughs. It becomesevident that sickness
functions as a way of attracting the parents' concern. It may even encouragethem to show

it
highlights
feelings
love
Novak's
In
daughter.
towards
their
also
novel
of
some
adopted
the weaknessandvulnerability of the child in comparisonwith the strengthof the mother.
The only attentionthe child doesreceivewhen she is sick is Kaltesophie'stemper. On
here
breathe:
hysterically
that
shepurposelyplays
other occasionsshecries so
shecannot
for
her.
The
brewed
her
her
lullaby
down
tea
that
specially
and
parentscalm
up so
with a
has
list
for
howling:
an
endless
nine-year-old
of reasons

Wenn mir was wehtut, muich heulen.


Wenn ich was nicht darf, muich heulen.
Wenn ein andererheult, mu ich auchheulen.

Wenn mich einer beim Heulenberrascht,


heuleich erst recht. (E.H. 69-70)

236

Comparingthenoiseof the ship'ssirensto 'heulen'is appropriatewhenthechild's frequent


bawling is takeninto account. The deafeningsoundof the sirensannounces
the arrival or
departureof the ship; the hoofing attractseveryone'sattention. In a similar vein the
daughterscreamsto announceher presenceand expectsimmediateaction in the form of
is
It
attention.
no wonderthatKaltesophierefersto her as "einerichtigeHeulsuse"
parental
(E.H. 136),a quite harmlessdescriptioncomparedto other namessheshoutsand screams
at her daughter: "Idiotin", "Satansbmten", "Biest", "Miststck", "Diebin", "Hurenbaby",
"Rumtreiberin", "Scheusal", "Dreckschleuder", and many more. Psychological abuseis
shown to be just as violent as the physical abusethis adopteddaughter suffers at the hands

of her adoptivemother.
Paulais not sucha sickly child. The one time that shedoeshavethe flu, shetries to
hide the fact from Christaand Kurt becauseshedoesnot feel comfortableenoughin this
had
home,
depend.
Ironically,
she
cannot
with new parentson whosereactionshe
new
in
her
in
ill
be
to
to
through
to
adopters
a phaseof wanting
worry the
gone
order cause
in
bed
'O
fil
lie
be
loving
To
to
tender,
she
would
pretend
care.
expectationof receiving
face
be
her
to
flour
that
to
painted
so
she
might
encouraged
white with
with
andrefuse eat
decides
however,
be
Paula,
things
the
againstthis
she
all
would
normally
not offered.
eat
for
be
because
her
that
sherealises
sicknesswould merely anothercuriosity
plan of action
desperate
her
by
in.
doctor
Nevertheless,
be
the
the
need
parents
and
would called
analysis
for affectionis evidentfrom the fact that shedoesswallowmanyof Christa'sstimulantsand
is
disorientation
this
have
headaches
the effect of causing
tranquilliserswhich only
and
hardly surprisingwhenshetakesthe pills with strongblack coffeemadefrom NescaMand
hot tap water. The desiredeffect of causingconcernis not achieved.

237

Novak's daughter-figurealsohasa penchantfor pills, poisonousonesusedfor bathing


feet. Her idea is to mix thesewith pepperminttea and saccharintabletsto try and kill
herself, therebyarousingpangsof guilt and remorsein Kaltesophieand Karl. Shedoes
drink the fatal brew on ChristmasDay but is immediatelysick after sticking four fingers
down her throat and being given salt water to drink. She had no intention of dying: she

just wantedattentionandlove. Her action,however,changesnothing:her adoptiveparents


but
in
her.
Two
later
tablets,
ten
all
one go,
sleeping
years
she swallows
merely ridicule
is savedby her aunt who puts her in a bath of cold water. Frequent statesof depression
had driven her to this decision. Researchby doctors and psychologists into attempted

by
does
the
tablets
of
that
are
predominantmeans,
and
adolescents
children
show
suicides
IdIling oneself,especiallyamongstgirls." The main causesfor suicideby adolescents
are
between
the
lack
conflict
all,
above
and,
a
of warmthand security
problemswith parents,
behind
"
the
is
difficult
the
It
therefore,
motivation
to
not
understand,
generations.
daughter'swish to endher life in Die Eisheiligen. In Wohmann'snovelPaulatalksherself
in
God
for,
has
live
by
focusing
to
things
particular
she
on all the
out of committingsuicide
daughters
in
As
the
reflect on suicide
adopted
we shall see
next chapter,not only
andart.
from
of
escape
means
unhappiness.
a
as
Other evidenceof suffering in Novak's and Wohmann'snovels is the fact that both
her
for
is
beaten
four-year-old
beds.
In
Die
Eisheiligen
daughterswet their
not using
the
bed.
the
families
the
andstays night sheneverwets
chamber-pot,yet whenshevisits other
Nine
bed.
lying
the
tries
tries
to
The six-year-old
under
stay awakeall night, sheeven
daughter
her
wets
later
Kaltesophie
that
still
threatens
to
the
tell
whole
neighbourhood.
years
Haus.
in
issue
bedwetting
Paulinchen
bed.
The
war allein zu
of
the
opensthe narrative
Paula'sprogressiveadoptersregardtheeight-year-oldas too old to still be usinga chamber-

238

pot. They replacethe pot shehadalwaysusedat her grandparents'housewith a bowl in


the shapeof a dog so thatit doesnot interferewith the interior designof their home. Paula
refusesto usethis new pot. Her nightsare sleeplessonesas sheconsiderswhetherto use
the pot or not, and how to reach the bathroom without waking Christa and Kurt."
Psychologistsrecognisethat "bedwetting is so common a problem among troubled children

()

nearly alwayscausedby somestressor tensionover which the child hasno control.

He really cannot help it". 44 Both daughtersclearly do suffer from stressand tensioncaused
by the tenseatmospherein their respectivehomesand the demandsplaced on them by their
adopters. Paula even goes so far as to wet the bed on purpose for three weeks in the hope

that theseadultswill respondaccordingto their psychologybooks, where she had read:


Alarm.
Zrtlichkeit
Mehr
Liebe
Hinwendung
ein
wird unbewut
ist
und
und
Bettnasserei
herbeigefleht"
these
Weise
(P.H. 192). She,-thus,reversesthe psychologyto try and
auf
her
from
it
her
however,
to
to
this
and
affection
concern
advantage,
attract
own
attempt
use
instead
fails
because
decide
the
to
they
to
turn
experts,
of solving the
parents
adoptive
is
for
It
Paula
treatment.
thereby
themselves,
specialised
and
consider
sending
problem
madevery apparentthat Chrigtaand Kurt cannotshowany "Liebe und Zdnlichkeit".
The two girls contendwith unhappiness
andloneliness.Paula'sisolationis emphasised
by the falling snowwhich shelikes to watchbecauseshefinds it comforting: shehas no
her
in
it,
Watching
to
throw
the
to
to
own
snow on
snowballsor go sledging.
wish play
has the effect of intensifyingher feelingsand giving her time to think: it makesher more
illustrates
introverted.
becomes
the
to
and
and
more
extent
more
which she
melancholic
This eight-year-oldgirf neverlaughsnor doessheplay with other children." In bed she
but
louder
her
Christa
Kurt:
love
for
to show
shecries
and
cries after trying unsuccessfully
Lord's
She
finds
herself
in
humming
the
to
any
attention.
saying
comfort
and
no onepays

239

shewishesthatshecouldcry moreeasilybecauseafterwardsshesenses
prayer. Sometimes
is,
is
The
that
therefore,
suggestion
she unableto expressher sadnessopenlyand
relief.
becauseit is not expectedof her, andthe adoptiveparentswould not respond
spontaneously
hidden.
keep
her
feelings
Thus,
Tearsare
to
true
she
consciously
attempts
well
naturally.
usually a result of hopelessefforts to pleaseher new parents. Shebuys two books for Kurt

identical;
be
Christa stressesthe mistakePaulahas madeand that she
to
turn
out
which
should learn from this; she should not expect praise or thanks for the gift. In the process
the adoptive mother overlooks the fact that Paula merely wanted to give Kurt a surprise.
A hug from Paula is misconstruedas being an exaggerateddemonstrationof emotion; an

during
her
interruption
hold
hands
is
to
a trip to the circus
parents'
seenas an
attempt
becausewatchingthe circus requiresconcentration.
Whilst Novak's youngdaughter-figuregoesthrougha phaseof screamingfor attention,
Even
there
tears
only
ones
of
pain.
whenthe
are
noted
earlier,
never
any
of
sadness,
as
is
during
is
her
lowest
no
be
tears
there
to
mention
of
ebb,
narrator recallingwhat seems
her stateof depression:

daich
Oft berfllt mich eine solcheNiedergeschlagenheit,
kaum aufstehenkannund dasHausnicht verlasse. Ich fhle
denke
durchlchert,
michverletzt,
und
immerfort
zerschlagen
im Kreis herum. ( ) Ich hauemir denKopf ein an etwas,
...
dasich nicht erkenne. ( ) Nur wennich schlafe,hrt der
...
Schmerzauf, versiegendie Krnkungen,vergesseich die
Unzufriedenheit,auslauter Ohnmachtreiendie brennenden
Bilder ab. (E.H. 173)

240

This daughteris prone to depressionandon a numberof occasionsher auntstell her that


thereis no drug to curemelancholy.In fact "sommerlicheConcordia"(E.H. 202)contrasts
starkly with the ice saints. As her nameimplies, sheembodiesunderstanding,sympathy
andultimatelylove. intermittentreferencesto this particularaunthighlightthe absenceof
love within the immediate family circle.

She is the one person in the novel who is

attributedwith goodnessand prudence;she introducesher niece to other countriesand,


thereby, encouragesher to seebeyond her confinement and unhappiness. Her love for the
naffator is evident and is stated:

Ich habeniemand,der mich leidenkann.


Bin ich niemand?
Naja, wie langenoch.
Ich bin immer fr dich da. (E.H. 157)

The oneandonly mentionof the futureby the narratorinvolvesher aunt:fifteenyearsafter


these childhood recollectionsConcordiaaccompaniesher niece to the theatre. Their
friendshipdoesprove to be honestandlastinganddoesillustrate the fact that the adopted
daughteris not destinedto be a true ice saint.
Whilst sheis in the companyof KaltesophieandKurt, feelingsof non-existence
prevail:

Da ist wieder das Gefhl, da es mich gar nicht gibt. Ich


existierenicht, bin berhauptnicht da, bin nicht wirklich am
Leben, nicht jetzt. (E.H. 165)

241

Paulaalso experiencesthis senseof non-existence


when sherefers to herself as standing
"atemlos"(P.H. 75) betweenChristaandKurt, the implicationbeingthat thesetwo people
is
in
interests
their
that
they
own
cannot see what troubling Paula.
are so wrappedup
Boredomand sadnesssetin as demonstrativelove is constantlyomittedfrom both family
is
One
futile
for
daughter
emotional outlet which proves
aggression. During
each
circles.

knocks
her
bathroom
intentionally
Paula
things over, makesa
trips
to
the
nightly
one of
noisewith the kitchendoor andrunsup anddownthe steps- anythingto awakentheadults,
to catch them off guard with no psychology books in their hands. She is all the more angry
when they continue to sleep:

Es war wtend,und dannwartetees auf den Zustand,nach


der Wut. So, da habtihrs mal wieder, ich bin verlassenund
(P.
71)
H.
keiner
ich
bin
traurig.
sehr
allein,
verstehtmich,

Sheresortsto imaginingthat her real motherwould takeher to bed andthat her real father
day
during
is
her
left
the
her
her
When
on
own
she
a story andwipe away tears.
would tell
it
it
hiding
from
drawer,
throwing
Kurt's
to
Paulaturns stealingmoney
elsewhereor even
in the dustbin. Shepoursalcoholdown the sink; shecutsa woundinto the faceof oneof
her dolls, one of the porcelain dolls which her adoptive parents only keep for their
floor
Chinese
the
breaks
to
throws
vaseand
an expensive
monetaryvalue; shepurposely
because
incidents
to
All
they
provoke
Baroque
these
are
supposed
premeditated
glass.
are
a
do
in
in
Wohmann's
damage.
the
However,
to
parents
the
work
response
emotions
natural
instead
discuss
no
incidents
show
the
they
and
the
girl
with
young
spontaneously,
not react
Even
her.
for
They
Paula
because
when
they
to
see
no
need
never
punish
cry
emotions.

242

Paulabites Christa's hand after she has had enoughof keep-fit exercises,there are no
is
The
to typeup their adopteddaughter's
of
anger
and
no
action.
response
punitive
words
behaviourand consult the child psychologymanual. Paula's desire to be brutal goes
into the gardenwheresheventsher fury by hitting the neighbours'
unnoticed:sheescapes
four-year-oldboy - someonewho is youngerand evenmorevulnerablethan sheis.
The parentsin Die Eishelligendo not discuss. The motherbeatsher adopteddaughter
for any misbehaviour: for sticldng a safety-pin into a teacher; for inscribing her name in
for
furniture
is
house;
She
for
breaking
the
the
around
at
school.
spanked
all
a window
lying,
breaking
her
interpreted
denial
being
as
which makes matters
a
plate,
supposedly

is
is
for
dress
She
She
Kaltesophie's
and
shoes.
accusedof
whipped
ruining
worse.
fir
from
is
beaten
tree
the cemetery
the
a
silverware
and
stealing
stealing
with a stick after
to useas a Christmastree. Paulahasher earsboxedonceby Christa. The physicalattack
doesnot result from naughtinessas such. ChristacatchesPaula standingin front of the
her,
hand
backcombing
her
hair.
She
the
tears
the
and smacks
girl's
combout of
mirror,
Gerhard
Knapp
However,
Paula
hair.
her
to
points
as
stop
malcing
a messof
supposedly
die
is
"durch
BloBstellung
Christa9s
provoked
incomprehensible
violent outburst
out,
"
her
kind
is
Rollenverhaltens".
It
Christa
to
threat
that
of
sensedsome
probable
eigenen
idea
here
feminimity
because
did
like
that
the
wasa younggirl copying
she
clearly
not
own
her own behaviour,andthat Paulawould havebeenwatchingher in order to learn how to
backcombher hair.

Prior to this incident Christa had been ridiculing her adopted

daughter'sgrotesquehairstyleand the fact that shewas dressedas a boy. The suggestion


in
be
is
"Struwwelpeter",
Paula's
that
to
that
to
particular
appearance comparable
of
seems
the unkempthair which canbe regardedas symbolicfor thoughtsbeingout of control and
the imagination playing riot.

The emphasison hair does, indeed, highlight Paula's

243

"'
is
fantasies.
It
is
thoughts
that
and
not
surprising
unconscious
she upsetwhen shehasto
have her hair cut short to look neat and tidy. Whilst Christa's criticism of Paula's
its
identification
in
has
the
origins
young girl's
appearance
with her adoptive mother,
Kaltesophieis critical of her adopteddaughter'sunkemptappearance,the fact that she
walks around barefoot and wears torn clothes, becauseof the impression this makeson the

how
this will reflect on the mother'sraising of this child:
and
neighbours

hast du dich jemals im Spiegel betrachtet


sieh dich mal im Spiegel an und sagemir ob du sowas

Hlichesschongesehenhastsagmir das
habe
ich
beobachtetwie du auf der Strae
neulich
gespuckthast()
ich gehekeinenSchritt mehr mit dir ber die Strae
ich schmemich so verloddertbist du. (E.H. 117)"

By ignoring her appearancethis daughter deliberately goes against her mother's wishes: it

is one way that she is able to retaliate. Interestingly,there is one momentwhen this
daughter,like Paula,seesthroughthe mother'sfeminimity. Kaltesophie'sbeautyand the
dressshewearsarousesfeelingsof jealousyin the daughter. This is probablybecausethe
here
is
different
that
there
other than the mother-figure,
a
woman
young girl recognises
daughter
her
known
life
has
therefore,
at any
another
adopted
and
abandon
could,
who
time, just as shefrequentlythreatensto do so:

244

Vor Bewunderunghielt ich mich etwasabseits,verfolgte aber


trotzdemjeden Schritt, jede Bewegung,ganzversunkenin den

Traum aus Blau, in das Wellenspiel der schwingenden


Stoffbahnen.

Ja, sie posierte hingeben vor ihrem

Schlafzimmerspiegel,lie die Augenlider herabsinken,senkte


auch das Kinn. ( ... ) Ich fragte: Willst du weg? Sie sagte
leise: Blo mal sehen,obs noch pat. Ich sagte: Sieht schn
aus und der Neid ri mich fast mitten entzwei. (E.H. 52)

Paula is caught off guard by Christa whilst sheis looldng at herself in the mirror in the
bathroom. As noted earlier, this adopteddaughterfinds refuge in the bathroom and does

spenda lot of time there. The significanceof the miffor shouldnot be overlooked.In her
analysisof the mother-figurein fairy tales Sibylle Birkhdusersuggeststhat the miffor
"reflectsour imagesymbolically,it pointsto a processof reflection,of contemplationwith
the purpose of self-recognition, insight". "

The same could apply to Paula, since she is

herself,
deep in thought, and does tend to look at herself everytime she
alone
with
often

in
the house:
a
miffor
passes

Erwischtwerdenvorm Spiegelwar schonohnehinimmer sehr


peinlich. 'Das Kind kam sichverratenund verhhntvor. Es
betrachtetesichoft sehrgrndlich,abernur dasGesicht. ()'
Es konnteschlechtan einemSpiegelvorbeigehen,ohnesich
anzuschauen.Wie es aussah,war ihm hchst wichtig - auch

245

interessant, war auch eine Erfahrungsgelegenheit, eine


Annherungan sich selber. (P.H. 141)

This desireon the part of the young girl to look at herself in the miffor vergeson the
obsessionaland is indicative of narcissistic tendencies. The emphasison freedom forces
her to withdraw more and more into herself so that she focuseson her own being and her
image. The early death of her parentshas also played its part in this neurosisbecauseby
the age of three, when she goesto live with her grandparents,she has not yet had sufficient
time to experienceher identification processand overcome the Oedipal phase, as GOnter
Hintzschel explains:

Aufgrund seinesbisherigenLebensverlaufsund der starken


Rollenverunsicherung
durch die Adoptivelternkommenbei
demachtjhrigen
Kind NarzimusundIdentittsprobleme
zum
Vorschein,diebei ungnstigen
Lebensumstnden
zu schweren
Krisen im Erwachsenenalter fhren knnen. 50

Paula'sidentity problemsare very apparentin Wohmann'stext becausethis younggirl is


her
One
different
depending
three
to
mood
swings.
moment she
assume
personae,
on
able

her
femininity
behaves
dresses
befits
be
Paula,
the
and the wishesof
girl who
and
as
will
her adoptiveparents;the next momentshewill be Paul, the tough,independent
child who
doesnot cry, doesnot play with dolls anddoesnot look at itself in the mirror; anothertime
"
Her
be
little
be
Paulinchen,
treated
the
to
asa child.
cuddledand
girl who wants
shewill
discover
is
insecurity
identities,
hence
to
this
clearlypart of
swappingof
sheneeds
senseof

246

her true identity: the miffor offers her a meansof doing so. This cult of the self is also
evident in Paula's use of notebooksin which she is able to write down her thoughts and

"freely pour out her soul"." The fact thatPauladoesfeel that sheis on her own doeslead
to this infatuationwith her own ego: the narcissistdoesexperienceisolationanda senseof
abandonment:

Sheis also convincedthat sheis not understood;her relations


with herself are then only more impassioned: she is
intoxicated with her isolation, she feels herself different,

superior,exceptional;shepromisesherselfthatthe futurewill
be a revenge upon the mediocrity of her present life. "

The samecanbe saidof Paulawho is intent uponalteringher way of life by the closeof
the narrativeandwho doesto a certainextentpatroniseChristaand Kurt in her thoughts,
thoughit shouldnot be forgottenthatit is oftenWohmannwho is usingthis daughter-figure
in
her
does
like
body,
for
her
Paula
Nevertheless,
own
own criticisms.
as a mouthpiece
particular her handsto which many referencesare made:

dachtedasKind, Brombeerhndchen,
MeineBrombeerhnde,
klein und unansehnlich,aber ich habesie gern. Damit war
auf einmal, mit dem Gernhabender eigenenHnde,wieder
Gefhl in ihm. Durch ein neuesGerhrtseinfhlte es sich
Hnde.
Sie
Das
sind
erlst.
meine
wie
sind wenigstens

immer bei mir. Sie erlebenalles mit. Sie nehmenan mir

247

Anteil.

(... )

Die Hnde, verschmiert von Brombeeren,

empfand das Kind als Eigentum und als seine Gefhrten.

(P.H. 39)

For this child her handsrepresentaccompliceswho do provide comfort becausethey are


her
of
and prove that she does exist. They are the starting-point for Paula's
part
'
her
appreciation of
whole self.

Since she is not allowed to express her love for her

adoptive parents, her only option is to love herself.


The most noticeablesimilarity between"das Kind" in Paulinchenwar allein zu Haus and
the I-narrator in Die Eisheiligen is their channellingof thoughtsinto artistic creativity. In
Novak's work the adopteddaughterdevelopsa passionfor reading, hiding a book in every

house.
finding
She
the
tries
thus
to
of
sanctuaryand comfort in
room
write a novel,
fiction; sheresortsto poetryasa simplerexpressionof her feelings. Paula,in Wohmann's
thoughtsand new words she
novel, has a blue book in which shejots down spontaneous
overhears;shetransfersa moredetailedexplanationof her reflectionsinto a yellow book.
She discovers solace in Goethe's and Wrike's poetry and enjoys listening to Schubert.
When walldng in the woods she sings Christmas carols, even in the summer. Her

had
been
her
her
had
told
that
an excellentsinger. Paulaoften
grandparents
real mother
invents stories about her real parents,imagining life with them on an island. Shealters the

in maintainingthe samerhythm. Shealso


wordsof poemsto suit her feelingsbut succeeds
likes to write about feeling homesick. Both mothersdiscoverthe hiding-placesof their
daughter'sliterary output. On findingher daughter'sbookof poems,which mainlyconcern
Kaltesophiereadsthemaloud and then bums the book whilst
the mother'stemperament,
her adopteddaughterlookson. During groupdiscussions
with otherparentsChristareads

248

from
books,
is
Paula
listening. The adults critically
Paula's
that
unaware
excerpts
aloud

discuss
language
the
style
and
and
whetheror not theseare Paula'sown words.
analyse
They do not understandthe meaningof the content. In her daughter'spresenceChrista
for
have
being
both girls
Paula
Thus,
any
might
of
a
notion
poet or genius.
ridicules
is
defence:
a
source
of
attack
and
on paper they can criticise their adoptive parents
writing
find
in
the
time
the expressionof emotions. For Paula both the
same
comfort
and at
processof thinldng and the act of writing are a source of refuge and comfort.
Words spoken are also effective for Novak's daughter-figure who learns to rebuff
Kaltesophie's cruel remarks in such a way that she challengesher and at the same time

displaysindifference. Pauladoesnot showdefianceorally, shedoesnot engagein open


battle, except for the one time she bites Christa's hand, instead she opts to withdraw into

herself. Shetriescommunicating
to ChristaandKurt by writing lettersandactuallysending
them throughthe post. Her onevisual act of defiancebeforewriting the note to express
is to cut up the red dressChristahad boughtfor her,
her wish to go to boarding-school,
the Paulashe had wantedher adopteddaughterto be. The decisionof eachnarratorto
influenced
is
inability
boarding-school
by
family
the
than
clearly
rather
another
choosea
both
leave
for
love.
both
They
to
this reason
to
sets
of
adoptive
parents
want
provide
of

be
been
have
disappointed
by
hurt
their
that
they
upbringing,
probably
so
and
would
and
face
to
anothersetof parentsjust in casetheywereequallylacIdngin love - although
afraid
this is not statedin either book. As alreadynoted, the adopteddaughterin Novak's
family andoptsfor a statechoosesthe Communistpartyasher replacement
autobiography
Sigrid
in
boarding-school
Communism.
As
be
the
ways
of
where she can educated
run
Weigelpointsout, the movedoesappearto be a positiveone, sinceanythingwould seem

249

better than what this adopteddaughterhas experiencedthroughouther childhoodat the


handsof her adopters:

Der zum Endeangedeutete


Widerstanddes Mdchens,ihre
Identifikation mit den sozialistischenIdeen der Aufbauphase
der DDR und ihr Eintritt in die FDJ gegen den Willen der
Eltern, erzeugen den Anschein, als sei hier eine politische
Identitt gefunden,die zugleich die Befreiung aus den Fngen
der destruktiven, familiren Vergangenheitermglichte."

On her sixteenthbirthday the daughtertravels alone to start a new stagein her life. Whilst

Weigel doessuggestin the abovequotethat this girl is brealcingfree from her past, the
narratorat theendof Die Eisheiligenquashes
anypreviousthoughtsof freedomto be found
in independence
and escapefrom parentalbondage,by impressingupon the readerthe
isolationof the boarding-school,surroundedby two lakes, a fencedin wood and a high
Idnd
imprisonment
der
lies
Mauer waren Glasscherben
"Auf
another
of
ahead:
wall:

einzementiert"(E.H. 238). Disillusionmentcertainlycomesto the fore in Vogelfederlos


loneliness,
being
on one's own, provesto be the only successfulform of escape.
where
for Paulasuggests
The ideaof going to boarding-school
that shewill find the authorityand
disciplinetherewhich is missingin her life with ChristaandKurt. Sheinitially considers
idea
in
the
to
these
the hopethat she might arouseconcernand that
adopters
mentioning
they might makechangesfor the betterin their treatmentof her. Certainly, for this girl
has
been
being
her
her
her
death
to
the
used
sister,the
on
own,
since
of
parents
and
who
having
to mix with lots of other childrendoesnot enthrallher:
of
prospects

250

Ich werde trotzdem,ohneda ich wirklich auf ein Internat


gehenwill, mal so wasandeuten.Sie Iaiegendannvielleicht
einenkleinenSchrecken.Sie berlegendannvielleicht: hat
sieesnicht schngenugbei uns? Warumwill sie dennweg?
(P.H. 167)

Her decision to actually'attend a boarding-schoolis finally basedon the belief that this is
the one place she will be able to be on her own: "Ich werde aber nur Augerlich nie allein
sein, es wird nur immer nach Gruppenlebenaussehen. Ich werde erst recht allein sein
k6nnen" (P.H. 229) and it is evident from the daughter's experiencein Vogelfederlos that
her belief is justified. It seemsinevitable, therefore, that both adopteddaughterswill lead

lonely lives as teenagers.


Thequestionmightwell beposedasto whatextentthesegirls deservethetreatmentthey
from
their adoptiveparentsbecause,as was explainedat the start of this chapter,
receive
these narrativesare biased towards the daughter'sperspective. The justification of
treatmentnot only dependson the daughter'sbehaviour, but also on the parents'
background. In the mother-daughter
relationship,for instance,it is quite common,as
in
explained thepreviouschapter,for the adultdaughterto repeather mother'swayswhen
she raises her own children. Although the parentsof Christa and Kurt are never
have
been
Paula
the
they
grandparents
of
are
and
would
of the samegeneration.
mentioned,
for
in
The criticism thesetwo emancipated
the
adultsexpress
way which the grandparents
conducttheir lives, the food theyeat, their love of surroundingthemselves
with ornaments,
is
hardly
in
there
that
the room, is indicativeof their generalattitudetowards
any
space
so
this generation. Since they despiseeverythingthe grandparentsrepresent,their own

251

lifestyle has to be completely the opposite and, of course, they are not on their own: they
are behaving in accordancewith the freedom and opennessevident in the early seventies.

Thus, thesetwo adultsconsciouslydo not repeatthe way in which they were broughtup.
Decidingwhetheror not Pauladeservesto be treatedthe way shedoesis difficult. As
indicated before, shedoesbehavenaughtily so one would expecther to be punishedand the
punishmentwould be deserved. However, theseparentsdo not inflict punishment, instead

they discussany misdeedscarried out by Paula. For this daughteranalytic discussion


becomesa form of punishment. Any attempt she makes,be it good or bad, to encourage
Christa and Kurt to treat her as a child and not as a grown-up, fails. And certainly this

daughterdoesmakeconcertedefforts to get closerto her adoptiveparentsbut all to no

avail:

Fast aus Racheumarmtedas Kind dieseLeute, die es sich


berlastung
leichtmachen
beruflicher
nicht
und trotz
ein
hilfloses verwaistesKind adoptiert hatten. Sei nicht so
berdreht,empfahlensie ihm. (P.H. 198)"

It does seem, therefore, that it is Paula's fault that she is unhappy in her new home.
Christa and Kurt are well-meaning in their own way, they want to do what they think is
best for Paula: a good diet, exercise, the 'right' books, didactic toys and so forth, but their
approach is intellectual and far too rational. After sixteen years of being on their own
together they are set in their ways, unable to changeand recognisethe needsof an eightyear-old girl: "Wir sind so schlau als zuvor" (P.H. 234).

252

In Die EishelligenKaltesophiealsoconformsto the expectations


of societyby enforcing
Prussian methods of bringing up children, hence the predominance of discipline and

punishmentin her child's life and the need to conform to bourgeoisvalues, such as
meticulous manners. Like the punishing mother portrayed by Mitgutsch, Kaltesophiehad
had an unhappychildhood and had beenbeatenby her father. Her adulthoodwas no better:
at the age of eighteenshe had an abortion, after her fiancd left her; she married late and
fostered
have
her
therefore,
a girl whom she
any
more
not
children
of
she,
could
own;
could not handle and who died at the age of six; she then adoptedthe narrator who turned
out to be a sickly child and with whom she was left to cope on her own during wartime,
into
in
background
her
husband
hospital.
Taking
the
consideration,
was
mother's
whilst
in
be
brought
the
the
children
which
should
as
expectations
of
society
about
way
as well

her
Kaltesophie
be
it
is
little
that
to
wonder
vents
well-mannered
and
groomed,
up
frustrationon her youngadopteddaughter,over whomsheis ableto exercisesomecontrol
throughpunishment. The young child doesseemto be usedas a whipping-boyfor this
inefficiencies
frustrations:
own
and
mother's

Wenn ihr die Leiter unter den Fen weggleitet,bin ich


schuld. (... ) Wenn sie ihre Brille verlegt hat (... ) bin ich
schuld. Wennihr bei allzu heftigemAbwaschenein Zinken
ausder Aluminiumgabelbricht, bin ich schuld. (E.H. 17)

This frustrationstemsfrom the fact that shecanno longerhaveany childrenof her own,
that she is therefore incapable of being a mother and has no real wish to be one, as she

57
her
daughter.
because
However,
to
to
she
out
adopted
conforms
social
norms
she
points

253

wantsto fit in by trying to presentherselfas a "good mother". In Hitler's era this would
frustrating
for
four
particularly
such
a
woman,
since
mothers
with
childrenor morewere
be
highly reveredby societyandawardedthe 'Mutterverdienstkreuz'.
Nevertheless,
therearetimeswhenpunishmentof thechild doesseemjustified andother
times when the mother's responseto her child's misdemeanoursis extreme, especiallywith

"
implement
for
beating.
Certainlythe adopteddaughterin
to
the
type
of
sheuses
regard
Die Eisheifigen has her own streak of cruelty, which is probably another explanation for
her inclusion in this family of ice saints. Out of spite the five-year-old shattersa bottle and
in
the
pieces of glass the shoesof a boy who had pushedher into the water. She
places

inscribing
her
through
of
a
phase
nameeverywherewith a safety-pinand,whencaught
goes
doing so, she sticks the pin into the teacher'sarm. At school she is the one who is always

in
into
dove
breaks
letting
loose
the
the
trouble
teachers:
classroom
with
a
which
getting
thewindow;coveringtheblackboardwith cream;threateningotherpupilsandstealingtheir
is
is
hurts
in
her.
She
her
This
to
take
someone
when
quick
way
revenge
own
pencils.

in
in
daughter
her
last
Kaltesophie
the
which
adopted
apparent
encounterwith
madevery
turns on her adoptive mother in her last act of violent defiance. Kaltesophie has come to
fetch the suitcaseand to tell her adopteethat neither shenor her husbandwill ever give her

der
ich
Tr
but
her
"Sie
they
to
an
sah
einen
und
zu,
wie
will
allow
:
stand
go
any money
Rest Sachenin den Schrankgepackthabe,dannwarf ich ihr den Koffer an den Bauch"
(E.H. 232). Thesevarious incidentsdo highlight the fact that this adopteddaughteris
her
Unfortunately,
the
role-modelswho surround
capableof giving as good as shegets.
in
bring
because
likely
in
her
to
the
the
environment
out
which she grows up
worst
are
human
no
warmth.
engenders

254

Eachof theseadopteddaughtersdoescontemplateher backgroundandthe whereabouts


of her real parents. Novak's daughterdiscovers the fact that she was adopted purely by

chancewhilst rummagingthroughthe cupboardsandcomingacrossdocuments:

Ich vertiefe mich in die Papiereund wurde berflutet von nie

Wrtern. Ich begriff nur, da


gelesenen
undunverstndlichen
ich adoptiert worden bin, da meine richtige Mutter auf alle
Rechte verzichtet hatte, da sie nicht verheiratet gewesenist
und mein richtiger Vater seit neun Jahren tot war, Freitod.
(E.H. 122)

The discoverycausesirreparabledamagebut she doesnot utter a word to her adoptive


parents. A year later Kaltesophie's temper does reveal the truth, as illustrated earlier.

Clearly thesetwo adoptiveparentshad intendedto keepthe adoptiona secret. It seems


happiness
that
and securitycannotbe built on lies or fearsof discoverywhich is
obvious
the casein Die Eisheillgen. The worst fear for this young daughter is the threat of being

51'
knowing
her
home
is
that
For instance,Kaltesophieis furious, when
away,
sent
unstable
.
her young daughter asks her what an "Angenommenes"(E.H. 72) is, a word which the

in
had
overheard
conversationsamongstthe neighbours. However, the motheris
child
herself not very careful about her choiceof words in the presenceof her six-year-old
adopteewhomshecallsa "Findling" (E.H. 26). Shedoesnot realisethat thechild will ask
anotherrelative for the meaningof the word. Out of context the word is explained
its
interpretation,
to
that of a geologicalterm: "ein Findling ist ein groBer
other
according
Stein,der alleineim Wald oderauf einemFeld liegt, denhat die Eiszeithinterlassen"(E.H.

255

27). Althoughthe explanationdoesnot clarify the mother'suseof the word, namelythat


this daughteris a 'foundling', the geological term is just as revealing, since it symbolises

the child's future lonelinessand her relation to the Ice Saints.60 Insecurity,a feeling of
being unwanted,causethis adopteddaughterto find out factual details about her real
imagine
her real father whilst doing the housework. Whether the fact
to
even
parents and

that he committedsuicideinfluencesher wish to end her life,, or whethershejust feels


closer to this parent becauseof what he did, is not made clear. This daughter does return
to the orphanageto establishthe datesand placesof birth of her real parentsas well as their
jobs but not their whereaboutsat the time of searching. In Vogelfederlos the teenager

wantsto terminatethe adoptioncontractbecauseshehatesher adoptiveparentsso much.


This notion of hiding the truth about adoption from the child was one which was taken

for grantedin the early daysof the popularityof adoption. Generallyspeakingit is now
widely acceptedthat adopteesshouldbe told:

Probablyno issuein adoptionhasgeneratedmoreanxietyor


literature
than that of telling the children about their
more
origins. ( ... ) Discussionof origins raisesin many casesthe

adopters' own feelings about their infertility, about


illegitimacyandunmarriedparenthood,andtheprimitive fear
that the child will ceaseto love themoncehe learnsthey are
"
his
'real'
not
parents.

Clearly this is not the fear of Kaltesophie,and Karl becausethere is no love to lose in their

beck
but
her
Kaltesophie
lose
is
their
with
adopted
child,
could
at
relationship
someone
who

256

Is
hclp
for
hcr,
has
housc
to
thc
who
around
andcall, who runscrrands
-a child who
treatedmorelike a servantbut who doesnot needto be paid for hcr services;a child who

Is
helping
dcmands
71crc
the
this
the
the
womanmect
of socicty.
serves purposeof
had
because
Kaltcsophic
having
the
to
adopt
a
shame
on
part
of
about
child
of
suggcsdon
It is evidentfrom other *incidents
that sheis easilyashamedby her daughter'sappearance
by
be
is
As
the
this
ncighbours'opinions.
would cspccially
cxplainedcarlicr
and affected
the casc for thoscwomcn living undcr the Ilird Rcich who could not bcar childrcn. A
for
main reason adoptingwould, therefore,be to conform to socicty'sexpectationsof the
ideal role for a woman,that is to be a mother. Indirectly, thcn, socictyplacespressureon
'accepted'
by
Kaltcsophie,
being
her
thosearound
as
of
such
who sees only way
a woman
hcr asposscssing
a child andthusbcinga mothcr. Ncarly four dccadcslatcr Christawants
lnflucnccd
it
is
Is
by
bccause
fashionablc
'own'
Shc,
too,
the standards
to
to
a child
adopt.
of the cnvironmcntin which shc and Kurt livc, so that oncc againwc can scc that socicly
is pressurisingwomcnin particularinto a rolc which docsnot suit all of thcm. And whcn

for
dirc
forced,no mattcrhowindirectly,into thistaskof nurturing,theconsequcnccs
arc
the child conccmcd.
in Dle Eishelligenand Paulinclienivar allein vs Ilaus the daughtersdo face ldcntity

in
Yet
the
theme
of
child-parcnt
such
common
accounts
relationships.
personal
crises,a
has
livc
daughtcr
fact
had
In
thcir
to
the
that
oncc
othcr
with
shc
parcnts.
adoptcd
in thcscnovclsbring to life thcir originalparcnts,bclicving
bothdaughtcrs,
imaginations
Imaginary
havc
bccn
livcs
bcttcr
71cir
tcndcncy
towards
thcir
thcm.
would
that
with
such

in
from
handle
the
thcir
themso that, when
way
parcnts
which
adoptive
worldsresults
facedwith uncertaintyand instabilityof thcir daily lives, they flec to thcscImaginary
dcfcncc.
form
Knowing
thcsc
that
that
thcy
thcy
usc
of
a
adoptcd
can
as
arc
mcans
worlds

257

in
imaginary
is
for
This
figures
Paula
their
the
stories.
case
particularly
as
parents
real
her
birth:
her
imagines
to
mother's
reaction
who

Ich kam gleich herausaus meinerlieben wahrenMutter und


sie hat gelacht, ich lag in ihren Armen, sie fand mich schn

125)
klein
hat
(P.
H.
gekt.
und
rhrend,
sie
mich
und

In her fantasies Paula does envisage her real mother as being loving, fussing over her,
being happy in the company of her child, even Idssing her. Neither Christa nor Kurt fulfil

Paula
in
fact
lengths
that shecannotpossibly
dream,
to
they
to
to
try
convince
go great
this
62
is
Paula
died
her
the
three
years
old.
of
was
parents
who
when
she
real
remember
her
Kurt
Christa
parents:
that
as
and
shewill neverregard
opinion

Eltern, dachte es, wird mein Leben lang nicht stimmen.


Eltern ist viel zu viel. Es ist falsch. Das Wort machteseine
Beziehung zu den Schlfern und Schreibern zu nah, zu

37)
(P.
H.
es
nicht.
vertraulich, pate

her
'Mutter'
Paula
Die
Eisheiligen,
and
new
calls
parents
never
Like the narrator of
her.
do
They are,
Christa
Kurt
the
to
suggestion
though
make
lVater', even
and
because
it
befit
do
does
does
their
Paula
too
that
so
not
not
pleased
nevertheless,only
modemways:

258

Wir selberwarennicht scharfdrauf, als Vater oder Mutter,


unterdiesendochetwasveraltetenFirmenzeichen,zu laufen.
()

Es kommt unsja auchim wesentlichenauf ein modern

Freundschaftsverhltnis
untereinanderan,.nicht
verstandenes
wahr! (P.H. 176)

Similarly it is noticeable that Christa and Kurt never refer to Paula as their daughter. This
is probably becauseshe is supposedto behavelike an adult companion, she is their "neue
Lebensgefa-hrtin"(P.H. 14) and, as mentionedpreviously, she is also treated as a source

by
Christa
Kurt.
be
for
books
to
written
and
studied
and
articles
analysed
and
of material
As onepsychologist,Martin Shaw,pointsout in his essay"Growingup adopted"(1984)
"adoptedchildren cannoteasilybe studieduntil they comeinto the public view for some
"'
being
Wohmann's
Novak's
is
This
than
true
novel
and
of
adopted".
so
reasonother
daughterbrought
has
these
two
adopted
novel,
where
creativity
artistic
autobiographical
figures into the limelight. According to Shaw, there has in fact been relatively little
interaction
in
families",
"micro-level
the
adoptive
into
research
parent-child
psychological
in
into
identity
from
"either
been
has
the
there
a
much
research
of
adoption,
question
nor
"
does
This
seem
surprising.
may stem
psychological
standpoint",
or
which
sociological
from the fact that psychologistsare divided over the definition of identity with regardto
identity,
hand,
is
defining
"we
On
there
the
that
the
and
create
our
one
argument
adoptees.
in
daily
living,
is
it
that
the
and
preoccupation
with
past
self-defeating,a
redefining
have
hand,
On
feel
"some
the
they
adopted
peoplewho
other
misdirectionof energy".
benefittedfrom their searchfor origins would maintainthat the value of knowing one's
"
by
is
too
easily underestimated non-adoptedpeople".
roots

Whateverthe case, John

259

Triseliotis, in his 1980 study of adoptionprovidesa more apt definition of identity for
identity
daughters
in
the
two
the
this studyundergoandare
crisis
which
adopted
explaining
likely to experiencein later life, becausehe defines identity in terms of a childhood
feeling
loved
knowing
of
wanted
and
within
secure
of
a
environment,
aboutyour
experience
background, and being perceived as a worthwhile person by those around you."

As has

been shown, neither Paula nor the I-narrator in Die Elshelfigen feel loved and secure in
their surroundings, and they are certainly not treated with understandingnor with respect.
It could be said that the childhood of each of these daughters typifies the upbringing of

lives
has
in
that
to
the
and
adoption
of thesegirls, particularly
no
general
relevance
children
The
tolerate
to
things.
adapt
and
most
most
situations
easily
quite
since youngsters
behaviourof eachdaughtercould be regardedas quite naturalbecauseit is acceptedthat

children react to stressin different ways accordingto their


fear
leads
life
In
the
to
temperament
some,
and
experiences.
into
Others
themselves,
anger and aggression.
withdraw
daydream,suck their thumbs, whine and cling, or seem
totally disinterestedand aloof.67

Whether adopted or not, each child needs to be loved so that it learns to trust.
it hasbeenthe intention-ofthis chapterto illustratethe fact that adoptiondoes
Nevertheless,
dimension
daughter-parent
both
daughters
demonstrate
different
to
these
relationships:
adda
is
fact
the
that
all
said and done, on your own.
you are, when
that adoptionaccentuates
Moreover, as Maggie Jonesexplains, and as is apparentin thesenarratives, "adopted
born
from
insecurity
them
the
than
more
past
naturally
children may also carry with

260

fear
be
handledwith extra
than
to
of
a
greater
usual
rejection,
and
with
may
need
children,
"61

care and respect.

Whilst the issueof adoptionplaysa subordinateyet significantrole, sinceit reinforces


identity
being
by
the
question
of
posed
upon
manyof the new generationof
expands
and
German writers, both Wohmann and Novak do illustrate in a critical light. the method of

in
1970s
in
1940s/1950s
Germany.
In
the
the
predominant
and
early
child-raising
Paulinchenwar allein zu Hauscriticism takesthe form of a satireon child-rearingmethods
1970s.
beginning
Wohmann
does
life-like
the
the
of
a
not
present
situation, as is already
at
in
her
instead
Paula,
of
portrayal
sheconcentrateson the negative effects of modem
evident
into
keen
Gebhard
to
the
theory,
put
practice,
which
adoptive
as
parents
are
pedagogical

Sch6nenberger
explains:

Sie kmPft gegenjenen Erziehungs(un)geist


an, der seine
ganzeWeisheitausunzhligenFachbchemzusammenkratzt,
der jegliche Idndlicheuerungfein suberlichseziertund
systematisiert, der Liebe und Nestwrme als Teil des alten

"I
Erziehungsideals
verachtet.

This satirereflectsWohmann'scriticism of ideologicalchangesafter 1968and the adults'


intellectual
jargon.
in
is
Not
Christa's
belief
Kurt's
there
criticism
only
of
and
naive
bringing
but
towards
up
a
child,
also their attitude, which vergeson snobbery,
attitude
towardsotherpeoplewho do not meettheir supposedlyhigh standards,asin the caseof the
Bechsteinfamily. Hans Wageneraptly summarisesWohmann's criticism of society,

261

highlighting what has been explainedand illustrated in this chapter, in the following

comment:

Sie hat aucheinebittere, scharfzngigeSatireauf eine neue


Art des Spieertumsin der Bundesrepublik geschrieben,von

Menschen mit

Vernunftglauben, Gefhllosigkeit und

unfruchtbarem sthetischenEmpfinden, von Menschen, die


alles denkerisch durchdringen, reflektieren, hinterfragen
mssen, fr die ein Kind kein Individuum ist, sondern ein

Wesen,dasdenangeblichrichtigengesellschaftlichen
Normen
70

hat.
entsprechen
zu

Wohmannwantsthereaderto be scepticalaboutan upbringingwhich is basedon purely


deprived
but
that an
shealso emphasises
of
emotions
and
spontaneity,
rationalprinciples,
is
impossible.
have
Parents
to cometo some
any
and
children
rationale
upbringingwithout
basic
foundation
for
living
As
in
together.
principles
over
as
a
was
noted
our
compromise
der
fact
in
is
Chapter
Ausflug
Mutter
Two,
West
the
German
that
this
mit
of
a
analysis
71

in
is
Wohmann's
emphasised
writing.
not
setting

Sheis dealingwith theoryandpresents

be
intelligent
Paula.
hypothetical
so
aware
since
and
situation,
no
eight-year-old
could
as
a
And by dint of her theorising,sheis ableto ridicule andshowthe absurdityof the theories
in
being
Germany
espoused
at that time.
on pedagogy
In completecontrastDie Eisheiligenis a presentationof reality in all its brutality,
becauseNovak is putting across to the reader true events, ones which she herself
is
just
This
between
the
not
story
of
an
agonising
relationship
adoptive
experienced.

262

it
is
in
daughter,
but
Third
Reich
the
the
also
portrayal
of
a
childhood
and
adopted
mother
in
later
GDR.
Russian-occupied
There
the
the
zone,
are, thus, two ways
adolescence
and
been
has
intention
interpreting
the
this
study,
as
a
psychoanalytical
which
either
work:
of
document,
Ingeborg
Drewitz
a
contemporary
this
or
as
which,
as
explains,
analysis,
of
German
1950s
the
to
the
some
adolescents
of
which
were anxious to stand on
extent
shows

independent
feet,
two
of the older generation:
their own

Wer das Buch als Zeitdokument liest, Zeit, wie sie ein Kind
da
kann
dem
kommen,
Kinder die
Schlu
zu
erfhrt,

Schreckenzwar wahrnehmen,anfllig fr Verfhrbarkeit


knnen,
das
doch
kaum
weil
sind, aber
rechtverfhrt werden
'
ist.
dumpfeSich-selbst-behaupten-Wollen
strker

joined
has
daughter
Die
Eisheiligen
the 'Young Pioneers'
the
Towardsthe endof
adopted
in
find
Youth'
German
'Free
to
the
as
well as understandingshe
company
the
order
and
doesnot receiveat home, and to commit herself politically and show allegianceto the
her
knows
annoy
and
adoptiveparents,since
Communists,somethingwhich she
will upset
203).
Ironically,
in
"Vaterlandsverrdter"
(E.
H.
GDR
this
the
refuge
political
as
they view
family
The
daughter's
the
upbringing.
and
orders
own
of
reminiscent
is
institution
leaders
FDJ
the
the
of
of
commands

komm her du
stell dich mal vor die Hundertschaft
nein so nicht

263

links zwei drei vier


nee
wir sagenbesser
links
links
und
und links zwei drei (E.H. 223-224)

Kaltesophie
those
of
replace

der Fu wird gestreckt

die
Zehen
einkrmpeln
nicht
strecken
jetzt das linke Bein

los
geh
nun
so
links zwei drei vier links zwei drei vier (E.H. 48)

Thus, Novak doesnot depictthe adopteddaughter'sdecisionto entrustherself to the East


German state rather than to Kaltesophieand Karl as a solution.to finding love and
happiness.As Helga Kraft suggests,"she (Novak) seesthe negativeaspectsof the family
73

in
the
the
of
state".
practices
magnified

Maliciously, yet with conviction,theyoungdaughterblamesthe older generationfor the


for
Nazi
having
Socialism,
to
National
submitted
rule without questionandwithout
rise of
her,
Communists
According
to
the
together
new
of
generation
act
would
opposition.
active
..

GDR:
the
society,
equal
to createa more

264

Du wrdest uns wohl am liebsten alle entlassen,

Eltern, Groeltern,einfachalle?
Ja, alle, dennihr habtalle Schuld.
Und wer soll arbeiten,wenn die erfahrenen
Krfte nach Hause geschickt werden?

Wir. Wir werdenarbeiten. Wir werdenein


Land aufbauen, da euch die Augen bergehen. (E. H. 208)

As in the works about fathers, Novak also comments in this book on the guilt of the

Germannation with referenceto its recent, horrific past through her narrator, who had
herselfbeena victim of mentalandphysicaltorture. Furthermore,it couldbe saidthat this
sixteen-year-oldwas representativeof a growing movementof young people, whose
idealistic
future
Germany
for
hopes
for
the
and
of
a
new
socialism
were about
enthusiasm
I

description
by
the
be
the
as
reality of politics andpower of the wall with
to
confounded
in
boarding-school
Mark
Brandenburg
top
the
the
on
surrounding
of
glass
pieces of
suggests:

Dadie neuenpolitischenModelleaucheineMglichkeit der


I

Emanzipationvom Elternhausboten,das wird am Schicksal


der Ich-Erzhlerin klar.

Es zeigt sich, da die Aufbau-

bewegungnicht zuletztvon einer "Jugendbewegung"


getragen
deren
Ziele
antifaschistische
sozialistische
und
wurde,
und
ideale auch Ausdruck der Rebellion gegen eine Eltern
generationwaren,die sich als unfhigund verlogenerwiesen

265

hatteund ungeheureSchuldauf sichgeladenhatten. Und nun


jungen
diesen
Menschendie geschichtlichuerstseltene
war
Chancegegeben,sich bereitsin den Entwicklungsjahrenals
74
Personhistorischrelevanteinzubringen.

In his review of Novak'sDie ElshelligenUwe Schultzaptly summarisesthe double-sided


historical/political
the
this
of
work,
and the personal/psychologicalaspects:
nature

Die Abrechnung mit einer gehatenVergangenheit schliet

die Rechnunggegensich selbstein. HelgaM. Novak hat die


dokumentarische
Biographieeiner schwierigenKindheit in
Deutschlandgeschrieben,aber auch den psychologischen
75

Roman eines schwierigen Kindes.

In this chapterthe issueof adoptionhasbeenraisedvia two very contrastingpiecesof


literature:
German
dealing
bring
how
the
theories
to
present-day
one
with
on
contemporary
by
the
as
experienced
girl,
narrator over a period of two years; the other
a
young
up
Germany's
during
the
through
the
atrocious
as
eyes
of
past
seen
narrator
on
reflecting
twelveyearsof living with her adoptiveparents. Yet we haveseenthat both narratorshave
in commontheprocessof thinking andtheact of writing asa sourceof refugeandcomfort.
Artistic creativity providesa releasefrom the oppressivesurroundingsin which thesetwo
daughter's
find
Ursula
Bessen's
to
the
themselves.
act of
comment
with
regard
girls
i)berlebensstrategie"
is
in
Art
Eisheiligen,
"Schreiben
Die
namely
wird zu einer
writing
both
daughter
figures,
Novak
but
to
to
only
not
and Wohmannthemselvesand
applicable

266
76

to women's writing in generalas a form of female experience. For thesemodem German

literature
female
for
the
their
provides
protagonists
means
expressingcriticism,
writers and
directly or indirectly, in an artistic form and brealdngfree from the restrictive natureof
traditionalexpectationsaboutwhat and how womensupposedlywrite in German. There
is nothing 'trivial' abouttheir writing becauselike all the womenwriters featuredin this
in
intent
dominated
by
they
surviving
society
and
succeeding
a
upon
a patriarchal
are
study
in
intellect
literature.
to
the
the
all
realm
of
politics
and
pertaining
culture, above

267
NOTES TO CHAPTER THREE

BettyJeanLifton is in fact of Jewishdescent,lives in New York andis well-known


thereas a journalist, playwright and writer of children'sbooks.

Betty lean Lifton, TWice Born: Memoirs of an Adopted Daughter (New York:

McGraw Hill, 1975),p. 245.

Lifton, p. 35.

R. D. Laing, Self and Others (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1980), p. 95.

Hedwig Courths-Mahler,Die Adoptivtochter (BergischGladbachand Mnchen:


,
BasteiLObbe,1987). The BasteiRomaneare a popularform of novel availablein
in
Mills
English
Their
equivalent
are
railway stationsand at airports.
newsagents,
Boon
stories.
and

Erhard Schtz,ed., Einfhrung in die deutscheLiteratur des 20. Jahrhunderts.


Verlag, 1977),p. 197.
Bd.1: Kaiserreich(Opladen:Westdeutscher

Theredoesappearto be someconfusionover Paula'sage. Sheis definitely eightis


it
is
however,
is
the
end
clear
not
at
what
she
age
she
adopted,
when
years-old
interviewing
Whilst
indicates
the
book
the
time
of
narrative.
span
which also
of the
Wohmannin 1974Dieter Zinner providedthe information that Paulawas eight at

268
the beginningof the narrativeand thirteen when she left for boarding-schoolin
'Weg mit der Tarnung', Die Zelt, 20 December, 1974. In Eva Borneman's review

Paulais "a child abouteight yearsof age at the story's outset, nearingten at the
536.
in
49
(1975)9
The time spanof the narrativeis almost
Books
Abroad,
end"
three years, according to Gerhard and Mona Knapp, Gabdele Wohmann
f176

63.
believes
is
Athenium,
1981),
Hermann
Burger
igstein/Ts.:
Paula
p.
un
kx..

durchleuchtete
Obhut',
thirteenwhenshegoesto boarding-school,'Wissenschaftlich
in GaMele Wohmann. Auskunftfir Leser, ed. by Klaus Siblewski (Darmstadt and

Neuwied:Luchterhand,1982),pp. 86-91(p. 90). HansWageneris of the opinion


in
leaves
Gabdele
Wohmann.Kopfe
thatPaulais nearlythirteen-years-old
she
when
des20. Jahrhunderts(Berlin: Colloquium,1986),p. 46. In the actualtext the first
is
being
is
166
8,
Paula
nearly
nine
on
she
p.
and thirty
eight on p.
mentionof
forty-five
is
There
later
ten.
pagesto the end of the
are another
she nearly
pages
her
further
in
to
there
age or to the passingof
references
are no
narrative which

time.

HeinrichHoffmann,Der Struwwelpeter
oderlustigeGeschichten
unddrollige Bilder
jUr Kinder von 3 bis 6 Jahren (Frankfurt: LoewesVerlag, n.d.).

Gabriele Wohmann,Paulinchenwar allein zu Haus (Darmstadtand Neuwied:


Luchterhand,1986). Referredto as P.H. with paginationin brackets.

10

Dieter E. Zinner, 'Weg mit der Tarnung, Die Zeit, 20 December1974.

269
11

Paulausesthe descriptionof "die Armen" to refer to Christaand Kurt when she


notestheir inability to disallow her from doing something(P.H. 137). Shelearns
how to usethe word in a patronisingmannerfrom Christa'stoneof voice whenshe
Paulaas "meineArme" (P.H. 138) or "mein Ames" which is quickly
addresses
changedto "glOcklich"(P.H. 176-177),sinceno sympathyis intended.

12

Paulaagainrefers to the two adultsas "dieseIdioten" (P.H. 226) towardsthe end


in
imagines
the
them
of
narrative as she
playing the snow and realises that they just

do not understandher at all. Referenceto their intellectualability is reiteratedby


Kurt when he recognisesthat they have not learnt anything from Paula and her
Wiel
das
ja,
"schlau":
his
Paula
tun
wissen,
sie
aber
picks up on
useof
presence;
ist
dazu,
'schlau'"
fhlen,
(P.
H.
dringend
das
sonst
man
nicht
noch
viel auch
gehrt
235).

13

Further detailsin Brewer'sDictionary of Phraseand Fable, ed. by Ivor H. Evans


(London: Cassell, 1981),p. 582. The Ice Saintsare also known as Frost Saints.
Their days can fall betweenII and 14 May. Somegive only three daysbut this
12
is
May
St.
St.
day
Mamertus,
Pancras,
13
St.
11
May
May
the
of
varies.
Servatius and 14 May St. Boniface.

According to Duden's Deutsches

Universalworterbuch(Mannheim: BibliographischesInstitut, 1979) in North

GermanytheIce Saints'daysoccurbetween11-13May, whilst in SouthGermany


is
15
May
the
is
between
the
12-15
May.
It
too,
that
they occur
noting,
worth
is
feast
day
Dymp(h)na
insane.
The
Dympna,
of
the patronessof the
saint-dayof
bones
her
in
legend,
Gheel
were
to
the
town
according
of
where,
celebrated
.,,%I

270
discoveredin the thirteenthcentury. This associationwith Belgium and insanity
doesseemappropriatefor Kaltesophie'sown birthplaceand mentalinstability.

14

HelgaM. Novak,Die Eishelligen(Frankfurta.M.: Fischer, 1981). Abbreviatedto


E. H. with page numbers in parentheses.

15

The themeof the daughterpersecutedby her stepmotherand the portrayal of the


stepmotheras wicked frequentlyappearin fairy tales,especiallyin Gdmnis' Tales.
In Cinderella,for instance,the daughterfeelsrejectedandunlovedasa resultof her
stepmother'shostileattitudetowardsher. In SnowWhite the stepmotheris the evil
leadsto destruction- so greatis her need
queenwhosejealousyof her stepdaughter
for power and dominationover others.

16

The daughter'sexplanationfor the choiceof nameis as follows:

Als ich einmal mit einemStrauFasanenaugen


nach Hause
k*

Dichtemarzissen,
das
Tante
Mieze,
m,
sagte
seien
auch
.
Pankrazerlngenannt. Natrlich seheich nicht geradewie
eine Narzisseaus. Ich wollte dem Pankraciushnlich sein,
'der mit allenMitteln Kmpfende',wie TanteMieze bersetzt
hat. (E.H. 179)

271

17

Interestinglythe namePankrazappearedin Germanliteraturein 1856aspart of the


title of GottfriedKeller's storyPankrazder Schmollerwhich wasoneof ten stories
in the compilationentitledDie Leutevon Seldwyla.

18

It is possiblethat 'Eisheilige' hints at the compoundnoun 'Scheinheilige'. To some

extentKaltesophieandKarl couldbe describedas 'hypocrites'becausethey assume


the identitiesof motherand father but are not capableof fulfilling their roles, as
their adopteddaughter's wish to leave them suggests.

19

Simone de Beauvoir, 7he Second Sex, trans. and ed. by H. M. Parshley


(Harmondsworth:Penguin,1979),p. 528.

20

Helga M. Novak, Vogelfederjos (Darmstadtand Neuwied, Luchterhand,1982),


"Volavit
is
17-18.
The
Latin
title
volucer sineplumis" and the
given:
original
pp.
fact that it originatedin the Reichenaumonastery.

21

The intentionof thesewriters is reminiscentof thepair of teachersin GUnterGrass'


Kopfgeburten- oder die Deutschensterbenaus (1980)who depict Grass'political
decide
but
this
married couple cannot
privately
concern about overpopulation,
baby
have
to
a
or not.
whether

22

It is not absolutelyclear whetherPaula did have a brother or not. Most critics


ignore the possibility, howeverGOnterHdntzscheldoesrefer to Paula's "Weine
Geschwister"in GabdeleWohmann(Mnchen:C.H. Beck, 1982)p. 97. In the text

272

Paulimagineshavingbrothersin her perfectfamily andChristadoesmentionto her


friends that there was a brother who died at an early age in an institution (P.H.
129). This is the one and only referenceto the existenceof a brother in the
narrative.

23

The age of Christa and Kurt does not appear in the text, but Wohmann does state

their ageas being mid-thirtiesin a radio programmein which sheparticipatedfor


Radio Bremen in September, 1974. The script appearsin Ich lese. Ich schreibe.

Essays(DarmstadtandNeuwied:Luchterland,1984),pp. 59-62
Autobiographische
60).

24

This highlightsthe differencebetweenthis novel and the romancetales.

25

Haus Wagener, Gabriele Wohmann. Kpfe des 20. Jahrhunderts (Berlin:


Colloquium, 1986),p. 47.

26

Seenote 7.

27

It should be noted, though, that this has nothing to do with Wohmann'sown


harmonious
having
been
by
brought
happy,
one,
up caring,
childhoodwhich wasa
loving parents.

28

Interview with Dieter Zinner, Die Zeit, 20 December1974.

273
29

Ursula Bessen,'Helga M. Novak', in KritischesLexikon zur deutschsprachigen


Gegenwartsliteratur,
ed. by Heinz Ludwig Arnold (1984),pp. 1-9 (p. 7).

30

YaakKarsunke,'Der Sprungvorw5fts war ein FaH', die tageszeltung,14 October


1982, p. 8.

Renate Wiggerhaus is of the same opinion: "Die deprimierende,

Mdchens wird eng mit der


individuelle Geschichtedes heranwachsenden
Zeitgeschichte, die ein solches Schicksal mglich macht, verknpft", in FrauenLiteratur-Geschichte: SchreibendeFrauen vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart, ed.

by Hiltrud Gnflg and RenateM6hrmann(Stuttgart:Metzler, 1985), pp. 416-433


(p. 421).

31

Wohmann,Ich lese,p. 60.

32

Paula is not allowed a room of her own becauseit will disrupt the d6cor of the
housewhich is to remainoen-plan,henceher bedroomis an areapartitionedoff
by a curtainfrom the rest of the living-room, a "Schlafnische"(P.H. 61), which is
inherits
from
Even
Paula
the
the
the
room.
crib
effect
of
seenas enhancing overall
her grandparentswill not be put on show becauseit does not fit in with their
fumishings:
modem

Die Krippenfiguren,die Paulageerbthat, gibts vom nchsten


Mal an aber nicht mehr.

Das knnen wir unserem

sthetischenSinn nicht mehr antun.

Man kriegt ja

274

Augenschmerzendavon.

Ein knstlerischer Wert war

ohnehin nicht vorhanden. (P.H. 211)

33

Beauvoir,p. 529. Thereare a numberof examplesin Mitgutsch'sDie Zachtigung


having
her
daughter
her
See
8,
Z.
Z. 136-137,
to
to
the
show
gratitude
mother.
of

(Z. 239). More


Z. 174, culminatingin "die Angst vor dernDankbarseinmOssen"
details appearin Chapter Two.

34

Wohmann,Ich lese,p. 61.

35

Obhut', in Gabilele Wohmann.


durchleuchtete
HermannBurger, 'Wissenschaftlich
Auskunftflr Leser,ed. by Klaus SiblewsId(DarmstadtandNeuwied:Luchterhand,
1982),pp. 86-91(p. 89).

36

The parents'belief that they are tolerantand do everythingright is alreadyevident


besitzt
in
derartig
jede
jede
"Wir
tolerant,
the
text:
sie
sind
aber
auch
earlier
Freiheit" (P.H. 100) and "Kaum anzunehmen,da wir Fehler machen. Alles
116).
haargenau"
(P.
H.
sfimmt

37

Wohmann,Ich lese,p. 61.

38

This ideaof finding freedomin distantcountriesis reminiscentof Alfred Andersch's


Sansibaroder Der letzteGrund (1957)in which Sansibarbecomessymbolicof the
longing to escape.

275

39

The daughtergoesinto detail to explainthe reasonsfor committing suicidein the

river:

Weil Ihr immerwissenwollt, wie esin meinemKopf aussieht


ich
es auch wissen mchte, aber schon wei, wieviel
und

Schlechtigkeitin meinemKopf ist, mchteich lieber sterben,


keiner
haben
Ihr
und
mich
wollt
mich sowiesonicht
weil
haben will, weil ich bse bin und hinterlistig und undankbar

()

ja,
da
Geduld
Eure
ich
Ich
tot
mit mir
sein.
wei
will

ich
ist,
Ende
auch,
weil
nmlich
und meinemit mir selber
zu
)
(
Mutter
Ihr
meine
weil
sagt
nie
mache,
was
nicht und
...
ins
ich
)
Wasser
(
hat
beizeiten
will
weggegeben
mich
...
lernen.
feige
bin,
ich
zu
schwimmen
sogarzu
gehen,weil
(E.H. 185)

40

Fxperts on the behaviour of adopteesdo point out that a child's sicknessoffers the

for
how
the
they
to
care
child:
the
much
show
adopters chance

Allowing a youngsterto regressandbe babyishanddependent


for a while will help in forming emotionalties as well as
development
him
to
stages
the
of
chance catchup on
giving
he has missed. ( ) We all go back to infancy to some
...
ill.
andthe extraattentiononegivesa sick
are
we
when
extent
do
for
him
than cure the cold.
more
may
child

276
JaneRowe, Yours by Choice: A Guidefor Adoptive Parents (London, Boston and
Healey: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1982), p. 154.

41

Kurt Biener, Selbstmordebei Kindern und Jugendlichen,6th edn (Zrich: Verlag


Pro Juventute, 1990), p. 40.

42

Biener, p. 69.

43

Paula is careful about not waking Christa and Kurt becauseshe knows how much

they love their sleep. In fact, sleepingis one of their hobbies,the other being
exercising:both hobbiesare intendedto keepthem fit.

44

Rowe, p. 143.

45

It is not surprisingthatPauladoesnot play with otherchildrenbecauseher adoptive


parentswant her to act like an adult. Whilst shelived with her grandparentsshe
usedto play with the Bechsteinchildren. However,ChristaandKurt discourageher
from continuingto play with thembecausetheydo not think that the family provides
Paulawith suitablecompany:they are critical of the Bechsteins'eatinghabits,their
supposed lack of intelligence, the father's laziness and the mother's
bernahme
her
"Seit
durch Christaund
towards
seiner
overprotectiveness
children:
Kurt wutedasKind: Die Bechsteinssind Spieer"(P.H. 137).

277
46

GerhardP. Knapp, Mona Knapp, GabrieleWohmann(K6nigstein/Ts.:Athendum,


1982),p. 94.

47

Sibylle Birkhduser-Oeri,7he Mother: ArchetypalImage in Fairy TalesCroronto:


Inner City Books, 1988),p. 37.

48

Kaltesophiemakesa similar remark to her adopteddaughterabouther appearance


later in the text:

nein so geheich micht mit dir raus


bitte geh und siehdich mal im Spiegelan
merkstdu nichts
du siehstwieder mal verbotenausverboten

du
ja
aussiehst
man mu sich schmenso wie

162)
(E.
dir
ich
H.
Leute
mit
gehe nicht mehr unter

49

BirkhAuser-Oeri,p. 35.

50

GnterHaentzschel,Gabilele Wohmann(Mnchen:C. H. Beck, 1982),p. 99.

51

Pauladoespoint out, that in fact all thesedifferent personaecreateone person:

278
Das Kind war, in jeder Erscheinungsform,
im Grundeimmer
es selber. Paula,Paul, Paulinchen:die zusammenbildeten
eine einzigePerson,ein Lebewesen,es selber. Sie ergaben
dasKind. (P.H. 86)

The namesmerelyrepresentthreedifferent aspectsof her personality.

52

Beauvoir, p. 363.

53

Beauvoir,p. 364.

54

Paula'sobsessionwith her handsis mentioneda numberof times: "Es betrachtete


jetzt seine Hand, es find wieder an mit dem eindringlichenund begtigenden
GernhabenseinereigenenPerson,das fing mit der Hand an, strahltedann aus"
(P.H. 109); "Meine Hndesindetwasplumpund ziemlichkurziringrig,aberes sind
bung
die
(P.
117);
H.
"Eine Rettungwar wieder
alte
meine"
mit den eigenen
Hnden:sie schrecklichgernzu haben. RhrungundTrost: dassind meineFinger"
(P.H. 197).

55

in der Gegenwartsliteratur
Sigrid Weigel, Die Stimmeder Medusa. Schreibweisen
von Frauen (Dfilmen-Hiddingsel:tende, 1987), -p. 151. The decision of the
daughterto becomea Communistcausesthe final rift betweenher and Karl. In a
letter to a friend sheadmitsthat shedoescarefor him andis awarethat he will not
be happyabout.her enrolmentin the Free GermanYouth organisation:

279
In die FDJ zu gehen ist das Schlimmste, was ich ihm antun

konnte. ( ) Ich mchteihn nicht krnken,und ich wei,


...
da er dann nicht mehr mit mir spricht und zwischenuns
ewige Feindschaftherrschenwird. Bis jetzt habeich mich
aber immer noch ziemlich gut mit ihm verstanden.
(E.H. 213)

She could not possibly foresee, however, Karl's suddenchange in character at the
sight of her blue FDJ shirt:

Karl schlug mich mit der Faust ins Gesicht und schlug und

schlug. Geradeer hatte mich frher nie geschlagen.Jetzt


schrieer dauerndKommunistenschwein,
und als mir dasBlut
ausder NaseaufsHemdtropfte, lachteer und rief-.Da siehst
du, Rot stehtdir nochbesserals Blau. (E.H. 219)

By actuallyseeinghis daughteras the embodimentof Communism,Karl givesvent


to his anger; the teenagerhas to bear the brunt of his physical and verbal abuse.
Thereafter,the narratordoesnot recountany further conversations
betweenthe two
of them. It must be assumedthat the adoptivefather has carried out his threatof

to his adopteddaughtereveragain.
not spealcing

56

There are other examplesof Paula'sattemptsto expressaffection for Christaand


Kurt which are either not taken seriouslyor go unnoticed:"Du hastuns so gem?

280
Ja, sehr schn, wir freuen uns sehr, aber jetzt ists Schlu, los, marsch, ins
Bettchen"(P.H. 55); "Der einzigeSchaden,den das Glcksgefhlnahm,entstand
dadurch,daseindauerndes
beantwortetwurde"
Lchelnvon keinemGegenlcheln
(P.H. 91).

57

Seepage 229.

58

Seepages242-244 of this chapter for examplesof the daughter's bad behaviour and
the mother's response.

59

The casestudyof nine-year-oldMartin showshow chancediscoveryof his adoption


defiant
being
his
behaviour
for
to
the
andplaying truant from
rude,
altered
worse,
school:

It was finally to an understanding


teacherthat Martin sobbed
be
fear
his
his
discovery,
there
that
must
something
out
dreadfullybadaboutbeingadoptedor why would his parents
fear
him,
that this was not really
tell
the
not
and
evenworse
his homeso he mightbe sentawayany time. (Rowe,p. 170)

60

There is one momentwhen Kaltesophie,annoyedby her sister's interferenceand


influenceover her adoptivechild, refersto her as "mein eigenesKind" (E.H. 162).

281
61

Martin Shaw, 'Growing up adopted',in Adoption - Essaysin Social Policy, Law


andSociology,ed. by Philip Bean(London,New York: Tavistock, 1984),pp. 113127 (p. 121).

62

On severaloccasionsChrista and Kurt point out to Paula that she cannot remember

her real family or suffer from their deathbecauseshewas far too young to recall
the tragedy: P.H. 104,118-119,129:

Erfinde auch nicht ewig so Elterngeschichtchen,


willst du?
Du kannsteinfachkeine exaktenErinnerungenmehr haben,
das ist einfach schonrein medizinischgesehennicht mglich,

Antennen
berirdischen
du
bist
kein
Fabelwesen
oder
mit
und
7. Sinn und so weiter, kein Medium, mach dir da keinen
175)
(P.
H.
Spuk
Dir
schnen
zuliebe.
zurecht.

63

Shaw,p. 114.

64

Shaw,p. 124.

65

Shaw,p. 124.

66

John Triseliotis, ed., New Developmentsin Foster Care and Adoption (London:
Methuen, 1980).

282
67

Rowe, p. 143.

68

Maggie Jones,EverythingYouNeedto Know About Adoption (London: Sheldon,


1987),p. 76.

69

GebhardSchnenberger,
'Wie soll manerziehen?Zu GabrieleWohmannsneuem
Roman', TagesAnzeiger, 13 December, 1974.

70

Wagener,pp.46-47.

71

Seepage193.

72

Ingeborg Drewitz, 'Jugendvon 1939 bis 1951. Helga M. Novaks RomanDie


Eisheiligen',Der Tagesspiegel,
30 September1979.

73

Helga W. Kraft and Barbara Kosta, 'Mother-Daughter Relationships: Problems of

Self-Determinationin Novak, Heinrich and Wohmann', Gennan Quarterly, 56


(1983),74-88, p. 78.

74

DagmarPloetz, 'Bis mir die Krallen nachwachsen.


Helga M. NovaksRomanDie
Eisheiligen',DeutscheVolkszeltung,20 December1979.

283
75

Uwe Schultz, 'Erziehung, die keine Antwort gibt. Eine poetischeAutobiographie:


Helga M. Novaks Roman Die Eisheiligen', Stuttgarter Zeitung, 9 October 1979.

76

Ursula Bessen,p. 7.

284
CHAPTER FOUR: DEATH OF A DAUGHTER: END OF A STORY

We beganthis studyof daughter-parent


relationshipsin fiction by examiningthe impactof
the father's deathon the daughterand the way in which his deathservedas a catalystfor
the story insofaras it was the reasonfor the author'snarrativeandprovidedthe structure
for eachbook. During the processof writing the adult daughterattemptedto come to terms

with the permanentloss of a parent. In this chapterwe comefull circle becausein Hedda
Zinner's Katja (1979) and Christine Haidegger's Zum Fenster hinaus (1979) it is the

daughterwho dies by committingsuicide. In Zinner's novel, set in the 1950sand 1960s


in East Germany, it is the death of the daughter which causesthe mother, Fini Komarski,

to reflect on their relationshipduring the funeraloration. Here the parentmournsthe loss


of her child. In Haidegger'snovel, setin the 1940sand 1950sin Austria, the daughteris
ihe
the narratorwho portrayslife with her mother,andnarrates endof her own life. In both
in
focuses
the
the
the
and
works
relationship
way which the
writer
on
mother-daughter
daughter.
bond
is
death
Katja, after whom
for
blame
the
the
to
of
ambivalent
partly
Zinner's novel is entitled, overdoseson sleeping-tablets
at the age of twenty-two; Irene,
Haidegger'snarratorandprotagonist,intentionallyjumps out of her school'sattic window
hinaus.
We
hence
Zum
Fenster
the
the
title
shall seethat eachgirl finds
at
ageof eleven,
herselfin a helplesssituation,unableto voice her unhappiness
to the onepersonwho plays
hurting
her
loves
in
fear
her
for
life:
Irene,
of
mother,
she
whom
sucha significantrole
her
due
her
inability
Katja,
to
to
mother whosework often
with
so much;
communicate
keepsher away from home. It is the aim of this chapterto considerthe multiplicity of
life;
her
behind
daughter's
to seeto what extent the
decision
take
to
own
motives
each
mother (and father) can be held responsiblefor their daughter'sfatal action; and whether
the writer is makinga statementaboutsocietyas a whole.

285
Suicideis indiscriminate:anyone,youngor old, rich or poor, canfall victim to it in any
community,anywherein theworld. Accordingto statistics,approximatelytwelvethousand
suicidesarecommittedannuallyin Germanyby menover the ageof seventy.An estimated
ten to twentytimesas manysuicidesare attemptedby teenagers
betweenthe agesof fifteen
'
and nineteen. The figures are staggeringand reveal a rapid-growing suicide rate not only

but also amongstchildren. During the last decadeor so the number


amongstadolescents
in Americahasrisenfrom 2.4 to 3.8 for every 100,000. In former
of suicidesby teenagers
West Germany suicides constituted 1.2 per cent of all deaths in the five to fifteen age
bracket, 12.2 per cent in the fifteen to twenty-five age group.'

According to Dr. Kurt

Biener, Professor at the Institute for Social and Preventitive Medicine in Zilrich, after
accidentssuicide is the secondmost frequent causeof death in theseage categories; though

it is impossibleto determinehow many so-calledaccidentsare actually suicides.' Recent


researchin Britain concludesthat "suicideis now third only to road accidentsand cancer
as a causeof death in the young".4 Psychologistsand suicidologists,do agree that
'successful'suicidesareprevalentamongmen,whilst eightyper centof attemptedsuicides
are carriedout by women,irrespectiveof the agegroup. The mostcommoncausein sixty
per centof casesof suicidein the youngis a brokenhome. Other motiveswhich canlead
to self-destructionare argumentswith parents,friendsor fiancds,depression,problemsat
'
We
disappointments,
shall see that the two girls
school, sexual
unwantedpregnancies.
fact
face
in
fictions
in
here
do
have
that
the
they
the
common
problems
portrayed
works of
at schoolandboth go throughphasesof feelingisolatedfrom their family andfriends:Irene
experiencesvulnerability whilst sheis at boarding-school,growing up in the 1940s/1950s
in Austria; Katja feels insecureduring the time she spendsin a children's home, and in
in
East
during
in
1950s/1960s
her
Uwe,
the
to
particular
marriage
whilst growing up

286
Germany. To understandwhat droveeachdaughterto kill herselfwe needto look first of
all at what washappeningaroundher andgoing on in her thoughtsduring the daysleading
up to her fatal actionandthenwork our way backthrougheachgirl's life to ascertainwhat
elsecould haveinfluencedher stateof mind.
Unlike all the other novels in this study, it is the mother who is the narrator in Zinner's

novel and who reflects on Katja's upbringing. Unable to comprehendher daughter's


seeminglysenseless
action her immediatereactionis to setaboutpiecing togetherthe last
moments of Katja's life, trying to find clues and establish reasons, very much like in a

detectivestory, becauseshedoeswant to find a guilty party, to makesomeoneresponsible


for her daughter'sdeathto easeher own conscience,as will be explainedlater when we
considerthe responsibilityof the parents. The mother'sperspectiveis interspersedwith
friend,
Anna,
funeral
from
by
her
the
as well as conversations
close
extracts
orationgiven
letters
by
friends
Katja, so that the
Katja's,
and
written
with other
and acquaintances
of
is
in
is
biased
the
the narrativesby the
totally
the
towards
case
as
mother,
narrative not
daughters-cum-writers.Details about Katja's deathare, therefore, drawn from various
for
daughter's
this
to
suicide.
sourcesand compiledso as attemptan explanation
On the day of the tragedyKatja had goneto work as normal, carried out her dutiesas
to her colleaguesand hadeven
a nursein the hospital,had shownno signsof unhappiness
boughttheatreticketsfor the following day. That night sheoverdosedon sleepingtablets;
two dayslater her husbandnotified his parents-in-law.Ambivalenceaboutthe final motive
former
from
letters,
he
intended
his
in
Uwe
two
that
to
arises
one which
stay with
wrote
Uwe
baby
by
Katja
divorce
to
Katja;
the
the
girlfriend and
and
second, reply, waswritten
disaster.
if
he
he
home
to
a
andcontainedan ultimatum: wasto come
at once,
wanted avoid
Thereis ambiguity,however,aboutwhetherUwe ever receivedthis letter: he deniesit and

287
his girlfriend divulgesthat shedid not passthe letter on to him. Yet the motherestablishes
that the two of them were seennearKatja's flat aroundthe time of the tragedyand it did
take two days before Uwe notified anyoneabout Katja's death. The implication is,
therefore,that eitherUwe and his girlfried did enter the flat and did leaveKatja to die or
they did not go near the flat and so had no idea of what Katja was doing. It is also possible

that the girlfriend had read Katja's letter and intentionally stoppedUwe from returning
home. For the readerKatja's suicideis, thus, shroudedin mysterywhich forcesus to try
and make sense, like the mother tries, of the inexplicable. At the same time the writer
is
it
in
likely that we will be
Nor
keeps
succeeds catching our attention and
us guessing.

able to solvethe puzzlebecause,as in mostcasesof suicide,numerousfactorsplay their


part and thoseclosestto the victim remainbewilderedby the suddenloss of a loved one.
For the readerof Haidegger'snovel the reverseis true becausethe narrator is the
daughter,hencethe readeris privy to her thoughtsbeforeher deathand during the act of
biased,
hand
hand
On
the
the
the
the
this
completely
on
other
suicide.
one
narrative
makes
her
invites
this
takes
the
to
with
young
girl
who
author
reader understandand sympathise
own life. As in Novak'sDie Eisheiligenthe reader'grows up' with the daughterbecause
we seethe world throughthe eyesof a child who describesher life from the ageof three
to eleven. At the same time Haideggerpresentsa child whose maturity, due to her
mother'streatmentof her, is part of her character,which, as was notedin Paulinchenwar
alleln zu Haus, is convenientfor the narrative flow.

This use of the narrator-cum-

in
for
the
to
protagonistalsoallows
act of suicide appear print and the narrativeto thereby
does
fade
its
loses
Irene's
The
thoughts
the
not
end.
narrator.
reader
away as
narrative
witnessthe suicidebut actuallypartakesof it. The very last words are Irene's thoughts,
is,
It
jumps
possiblyevenscreams,as she
out of the window and tumblesto the ground.

288
fall
die
her,
intensify
does
if
the
too,
the emotional
and
with
are
experiencing
which
as we,
impactof this particularsuicide:

icherdasGrGnistunertriglich,
DieBlitterderBuchesindsonah,
kennedieRispendiebraunenSpitzenallesistsofiberdeutlichMama-

liebeMamaliebeMamamama
(Z.F. 202)'

The linking of words and the gradual lack of punctuation illustrate perfectly the downward
fall
in
daughter's
last
life,
Even
this
the
the
the
as
well
as
speed.
moment
of
of
movement

importance
her
her
is
is
Irene's
that
association
mother,
so
and
with
suicide
emphasis on
be
in
detail.
For
it
to
though,
will
need
and
analysed
greater
now,
should
apparent
made
decision. Her
be pointed out that Irene's decisionto jump is not a spur-of-the-moment
is
for
first
Looking
death
the
the
time,
calculated.
school's
attic
out
window
of
choiceof
freed
be
'one'
the
that
of all anxieties;the next time she
possibility
would
sheconsiders
below,
it
is
like
her
Part
thinks
the
as
she
of
own
a
magnet,
plight.
of
pavement
gazesat
death
in
jumping
lies
her
that
conviction
will solve all problemsbecause
of
the attraction
therecan be no more problems,oncesheis dead;anotherpart lies in imagining how she
by
jumping
from
height:
death
such
a
would experience

Habe mir vorgestellt, wie das wre. So, wie manchmal


knappvor demEinschlafen,wennich merke:JETZT und
...
dannnocheine Sekundeganzhellwachbin, eheich wirklich
einschlafe.

Dieses Jetzt ist eine Art Schmerz, wie ein

289
Zucken, vom Kopf bis zu den Zehen. Ob der Tod etwas
hnlichesist? (Z.F. 200)

On her third visit to thewindowIrene's mindis madeup: sheapproaches


deathwithoutany
hesitation.
As will becomeevidentwhenwe analyseIrene's relationshipwith her motherin detail,
Irene does regard her decision to take her own life as a solution to her mother's
unhappiness.Sheseesherselfas a financialburdento her motherwho has to work very
hard to afford her daughter'sschooling. There is the belief, too, that if she no longer
7
her
Germany.
The predominant
to
existed
mother would remarry and possiblyreturn
motive for suicide is that she is sacrificing herself for her mother. In her mind she is the

is
problemand suicide the solution:

Manchnaldenkeich, es wrebesser,ich wre nicht geboren


worden.

Seit ich auf der Welt bin, hat Mama nur

Schwierigkeiten. Ohne mich htte sie es sehr viel leichter.


(Z. F. 190)

This thoughtprocesshasbeenobservedby psychoanalysts


suchas Edwin Schneidman:

Suicideis not a randomact. it is never donepointlesslyor


without purpose. It is a way out of a problem, dilemma,
bind, challenge,difficulty, crisis, or unbearablesituation. It
has an inexorablelogic and impetusof its own. It is the

290
answer - seeminglythe only available answer- to a real
is
do?
How
What
Its
to
this?
to
puzzler:
get out of
purpose
to solve a problem, to seeka solution to a problem that is
generatingintensesuffering!

In Katja's casetheredoesnot appearto be a problemas suchwhich suicideis intended


to solve, henceit is at this stageof analysisthat the two deathscan no longer be referred
to as two suicides, rather the one, that is Irene's, is suicide, whilst the other, Katja's, is

parasuicide,that is to say her deathis similar but not identicalto suicide. We only need
to look at Katja's final motive and methodof killing herself to determinethis. Shortly
before her death Kati a had disclosed to Eberhard GroBe, an educational psychologist and

headof the children'shomewhereKatja hadhadto stayfor a while, whenher parentshad


because
him
leave
loved
housekeeper
Uwe
look
her,
to
that
she
and
no
after
shecould not
hopedto changehim. Shewas, in fact, afraid of losing him, sincehe had begunto visit
his previousgirlfriend and their baby again. Shehad wantedGroBe'sadvicewith regard
to Uwe's suggestionthat the girlfriend andbabyshouldmovein with them. Katja had felt
that shecould not live without Uwe, shelovedhim desperatelyandwas sexuallydependent
on him. But accordingto Uwe the suggestionhadneverbeenserious,merelya device or
forcing the issueof divorce.' Nevertheless,it doesseemthat the prospectof divorcewas
the culminatingfactor in Katja's decisionto overdoseon sleepingtablets,as her mother
haben,
durchlaufen
der
Eifersucht
"berhaupt
Stadien
Tochter
recognises:
mu meine
alle

dennEifersuchtwar esnebenallemanderen,da macheich mir nichtsvor, die denletzten


Schritt ausl6ste"(K. 125)." As mentionedearlier, Katja had given a warning signalby
threateningher husbandin a letter with the possibility of a disaster. When comparedto

291
Irene's motive for suicide,Katja's reasonfor overdosingwas not an attemptto solve a
problem, insteadshewas crying out for help. Her methodof killing herself, overdosing
jump
decisive
in
Irene's
to
tablets,
out
on sleeping
was a slow, painlessone, comparison
of an attic window. As a nurseKatja had the opportunityto takesleepingtabletsfrom the
hospital over a period of time without anyonenoticing; she would also have been aware of
the fact that there would be a greater chance of somebody finding her still alive, if she

"
her.
kill
does
longer
because
It
to
tablets,
they
take
overdosedon
seem,therefore,
would
that Katja had expectedUwe to return home in time to save her. In analysing people's

havedrawnup ten motives,sevenof which have


reasonsfor talcingoverdosespsychologists
an appealcharacter,that is to say, the person taking the overdosehas no intention of
ceasingto live, instead s/he wants to make others feel sorry, to give them a senseof guilt,

influence
is;
it
desperate
how
to
to
them;
somebodyelse or make
s/he
shock
make clear
him changehis mind; to find out whethersomebodyelsereally loves him/her." It is not
difficult to seehow Katja's action,hadshenot died, couldhavebeenregardedasan appeal
becauseher written ultimatumto Uwe wasin a sensea testof his love for her and showed
that shehadonly intendedto exertpressureon him. By comparingthe motivesfor suicide
to
appertain
of
conclusions,
all
of
which
and parasuicideSchneidman.
a
number
reached
Katja's death:

In parasuicidalbehaviourthe commonpurposeis to evokea


is
is
Suicide
parasuicide
evocative.
response.
conclusive;
()

The goal of oneis the stoppingof life; of the other, the

changingof it. (... ) It is meantto evokehelpingbehaviour

292
from others. ( )
...

The common parasuicidalaction is


13

communicationitself.

Clearly Katja hadwantedUwe to respondto her threat,to force him to makea choice
between her and his former girlfriend. The overdose was her way of trying to draw his
attention towards her and to make him realise how much he was hurting her and making

her suffer. It was, of course,a form of emotionalblackmail,just aswe sawin Mitgutsch's


Die Ztkhtigung where the mother threatenedto Icill herself, if her daughter left home. At
the same time Katja's action could be interpreted as her last resort to communicate with

Uwe throughdeed,ratherthanwords. Little did sheknow that her written words andher
action would not havethe desiredeffect and would go unheededby the personwho was
her.
he
loved
hint
does
The
her
how
to
thereby
writer
at
supposed save
much
and
show
the possibility of fate having somehowbeeninvolved in Katja's deathwhen the reader
daughter,
her
in
Katja,
had
her
to
that
memoryof
recalls
mother
originally chosen name
her own sister, who in her youth had taken her life in the nameof freedom. For this
23)
because
"Nomen
(K.
daughter
it
does
have
been
to
of
est
omen"
case
a
mother's
appear
Katja had often accusedher parentsof not letting her live her own life, of not giving her
the freedomto developher individuality. Thus, in a subtleway, evenin Katja's death,the
it
its
just
had
has
is
her
in
that
the
as
played
part,
suggestion
mother's,
past, particular
life
Katja's
influence
haunted
her
life.
the
This
of
mother'spaston
constantly
aspectof the
will be looked at in greaterdetail when we studytheir relationshipand recognisethe way
in which history hindersthis daughter'sdevelopment.
Whilst Katja hadtried to usedeathto her advantageas a meansof fulfilling her wishes,
Irene was attractedto its finality andproblem-solvingaspect. Whenwe delve deeperinto

293
each girl's upbringing, it is possible to discover other motives which could have
subconsciouslyinfluencedtheir tragic actions; eventswhich would have affected their
attitudetowardsdeath. As Erwin Stengelpointsout in his studyof suicide,"the conscious
14
is
factor
in
last
motive as a rule only the
a multiplicity of causes".
precipitating
Significantly, neither girt was afraid of deathbecauseboth of them had witnesseddeathand

grown up with it. Before she was even four-years-oldIrene had alreadyencountereda
victim of suicidewhen sheknockedagainstthe hangingcorpseof the postmanin the dark
down
The
black
the
tongue
the
washroom.
sight of
eyes staring
at her had terrified the
and
child so much that she did not return to the washroom for a long time thereafter. In her

short life Irene had attendedtwo funerals, her grandfather'sand one of her mother's
suitors, Heff Michalek's funeral. He, too, had committed suicide. There is also the

in
is
dead,
her
father,
thought
that
action,
presumed
especially
constant
missing
reported
after eight years of waiting for him to return. Her mother maintainsthe grave of an
is
doing
for
her
in
Russian
the
that
the
somewhere
same
unknown
someone
soldier
event
husband'sgrave, if thereis one. HencedeathcontinuallyinvadesIrene's daily life. She
if
is
if
dying;
death;
if
her
thinks
she
afraid
of
and
she
evenwonders
about
grandmother
seesany purposein living, other thaneatinganddrinking. In fact, Irene doesquestionthe
die
lassen,
kommen
Welt
life:
liegt,
"Der
der
darin
Wahnsinn,
um
auf
uns
meaningof
zu
krank.
lassen,
dann
Jahren
machtmich ganz
uns
nachso relativ wenigen
wiedersterbenzu
Was kann man schon tun in diesenkurzen JahrenT' (Z.F. 177). The doubts of this
daughteraboutthe point of living do to a certainextentexplainthe calmnessandcertainty
with which sheconfrontsher own death.
Like Irene, Katja is also familiar with deathand the effect the deathof a personcan
haveon the peoplearoundhim or her, so that sheis well awareof the risk sheis taking

294

whensheoverdosesand tries to manipulatedeathto her advantageby using it as a threat.


During her childhoodshe had beenconstantlyremindedof the horrors of deathby her
motherwho, after having spenteight yearsin the concentrationcampat Ravensbrflckon
accountof her activitieson behalf of the anti-Naziresistancemovement,devotedthe rest
of her life to lecture tours and concerts to ensure that no one would ever forget the
atrocities of the past. And this includes her daughter, who at the age of ten is taken by her

motherto someof theselectures,whereKatja hearsof the children who were gassedto


death. The daughter's initial tears turn into a withdrawal into herself.

Her mother

misinterprets Katja's wish to no longer accompanyher to theselectures as indifference and

coldness.However,as we shall seewhenwe analysethe daughter'srelationshipwith her


mother and the importance of the past in her life, Katja's reaction to these dreadful deaths

is a self-defence
- mechanism,her way of handling the suffering with which she is
confronted. It might, therefore,seemsurprisingto the readerthat Katja' choosesa career
in nursingwhich brings her face to face with death. Katja's explanationto her parentsis
that her motherhadonceupona time lookedafter sick peopleand someof themhad died
in her armsduring her time in RavensbrOck.This notion on the,part of the daughterof in
15
in
later
it
is
her
At
become
this
someway emulating motherwill
analysis.
stage
clearer
alreadyapparentthat the mother'spast,especiallyher familiarity with death,doesinfluence
her daughter'sdecisionto work in an environmentwheredeathand sufferingare closeat
hand. When one of the patientsto whom Katja had becomeattacheddies, her motheris
unableto answerher questionsaboutwhy a personhasto die and how peoplecanbelieve
in God when deathrobs them of loved ones:

295
Meine armeTochter, sie qultesich mit demPhnomendes
Sterbensherumund fand bei mir keineHilfe. Htte ich ihr
helfen knnen? Ich wei es nicht. Ich glaubte,sie msse
66)
damit
fertig
(K.
allein
werden.

The mother'sresponse,namelyto let her daughtersort it out for herselfandcometo terms


inability
is
indicative
her
her
her
discuss
to
express
and
emotions
of
with
anguishon
own,
of any kind with her daughter. As will becomeevident, this proves to be part of her failure

to communicatewith her child. Hence,asnotedearlier, Katja reactsto deathwith apparent


indifferencein order to shieldher pain. Shedoesnot try to discussdeathwith her mother
because
hell
in
to
the
she
compares
though
again, even
she works
cancerward which
is
far
Irene,
Katja
In
to
then,
lie
helplessly
death.
there
comparison
youngsters
awaiting
it
is
For
death.
this
familiar
horrific
reason
unlikely
the
traumatic
sideof
more
and
with
that Katja actually intendedto die when she overdosedand, as was explainedwhen we
distinguishedbetweensuicide and parasuicide,her actions before her death were not
indicativeof a wish to end her life, rather a way of communicatinga desperateneedfor
love. Tragically, for this daughterit all went wrong, whereasfor Irene her jump to death
her
the
decisive
because
of
die
shecouldonly envisage positiveaffects
wasa clear,
wish to
death.
The problemswhich deathis supposedto solvefor Irene come to the fore during her
time at boarding-schooland can be broken down into three areas: worries about
lead
love,
loneliness
which
all of
andan absenceof
schoolwork,an overwhelmingsenseof
to phasesof depression.Schoolworkposesa problem for Irene becauseshehas to study
hard to maintaina high standardof work. The pressurecomesfrom home: she feels

296
obligedto studyharderthanthe otherpupils andexcelin classbecausesheknowsthat her
motherhas to work all hoursof the day to keepup with paymentsfor her schoolclothes
andbooks,in spiteof the fact that Irenewon a scholarshipto cover the feesat this school.
Fear of letting her motherdown, if she doesnot do well at school,is also linked to the
memory of her father: "Mama sagt, Papahtte seine Freude an mir, weil ich so gut in der

Schulebin, und sie erzhlt mir, wie sehr er geweint hat, weil er damalsnicht fertig
studierendurfte" (Z.F. 91). Similarly her mother'sexpressionof joy whenshehearsthat
Irene has won a scholarship has its foundation in the pride her husbandwould have felt:

"Mama freut sich und umarmtmich wieder. - WennDein Papadaserlebenknntel sagt


sie wohl hundertmal"(Z.F. 99). Hencethe worry over a possiblebad report and having
to repeat a school year constantly traumatisesIrene's life becauseshe is afraid of
disappointingboth her parents. Sheconcentrates
to suchan extenton this negativesidethat
fact
is
in
her
The
low
in
is
disaster
that
opinion.
she
not
a
grade mathematics considereda
aboveaveragein one subjectis viewed out of all proportion:

Mama war sehr traurig, da ich in Mathematik nur ein


GENGEND habe. So schlechteNoten ist sie von mir nicht

bei
Ostern
ihr
(
)
Ich
mich
zu
gewohnt. ...
mu versprechen,
bessern. Ich versprechees. Aber schwerenHerzens. Ich
habe einfach Angst, da ich dieses Versprechen nicht
einhaltenkann. (Z.F. 186-187)

297
Thus, with regard to her schoolworkIrene does feel inadequatebecauseshe doesnot
believethat she can fulfil the hopesof her motherand the expectationsof her father, as
interpretedby his widow.
Interwoven with Irene's anxietiesabout schoolwork is an overwhelmingsenseof
loneliness. At the age of eight she becomesa boarder and has to leave her mother for the

first time and can only spendvacationswith her henceforth. It shouldbe notedhere that
in
between
this
the
study,
relationship
out of all the daughter-parent
portrayed
relationships
Irene and her mother is the most loving and affectionateand will be observed more closely

later in this chapter. But as a result of Irene's attachmentand devotionto her mother,
boarding-schooldoescausea wrenchand is a starkcontrastto the loving homeIrene has
to leavebehind. At schoolthe pupils are educatedto copewith their own problemsand
to behavein an adult manner." No two girls are allowedto form a closefriendship;only
Everyone
teacher.
the
of
a
to
together
eye
three
watchful
groupsof
under
are able mingle
friend,
hence
have
is
the
to
but
be
friendly
a special
to oneanother nobody permitted
must
teachersensurethat they'put togethergirls who do not like one another. Somegirls even
be
Thus
together.
they
that
for
grouped
will
to
so
pretend argue the sakeof appearances
Irene feelsaloneat school:shehasno oneto whom shecan turn and to whom shecantalk
friends
lack
daughter's
her
Her
at schoolwhen she
of
openly.
mothercannotunderstand
is informedof this in a report, but Irene's attemptsto explainthe hypocrisyof the teachers
her
her
believe
that
educatorsare not telling the truth.
are unsuccessful: motherwill never
This daughter'ssenseof isolation, of in someway being an outsider,is illustratedby the
May Day celebrationsat school when the parentscome to visit their children. Irene's
feels
is
her
there
to
particularly
mother unable come so that without either of
she
parents
lonely. Shedoesaccompanytwo sistersand their father to a cafdbut sheis unableto eat

298
the cake becauseshe is too upset. The presenceof this father who is so nice to her
intensifiesher senseof deprivation:sherealisesthe extentto which shehasbeendenieda
father,andthather motherhashadno husbandwith whomto shareher life: "Ich wOnschte,
201).
(Z.
F.
lebte
Vater
Vielleicht
Sicher
anders"
mein
noch.
wrealles
wreallesanders.
Closely connectedwith Irene's awarenessof missing a father in her life, not being able
to see her mother during term-time and not being allowed to form close friendships with

is
in
love
does
The
the
teacher
attempt
absence
care.
one
school,
of
and
other girls
who
to form somekind of friendship with her pupils is the sports mistress, Lisa. She addresses

the girls by their first names,thus acknowledgingthem as humanbeings. She takesa


but
has
be
in
devote
Irene
interest
the
to
to
stories
she
writes
she
careful
and
not
particular
Nevertheless,
just
her
she makesevery effort she can to win
to
pupil.
one
all
attention
Irene's trust by listeningto her. She evengives her a hug and kiss after receiving the
birthdaypresentof a storyIrenehadwritten. The shockof the spontaneous
embracemakes
Ireneawareof theemptinessof schoollife andthe extentto which shemisseshumantouch.
felt
by
manyof the girls, the secrettears,
is
the
in
No one authority consciousof
sadness
eventhe fear of gettingno post:

der
da
nach
nur
hier
wir
Sind wir alle
so einsam,
gegenseitigenWrme suchen,weil sie uns sonst niemand
Gegenwart
Mamas
ich
sovermit7
die
Habe
Monate
gibt?
all
Einfach nur ihre Nhe, dasWissen,daich jederzeit zu ihr
hatte?
dazu
ich
Lust
konnte,
gehenund sie umarmen
wenn
(Z.F. 153)

299
Again andagainthis daughterstresses
her lonelinessandhow muchshemissesthelove and
supportof her mother:the climaxis reachedin the mostpoignantpassageof the narrative:
I
Mama, ich hab dich lieb. Und ich habeAngst. Ich bin so
allein hier. Jemandsollte da sein. Sie drften einen nicht so

allein lassen. Niemand drfte so alleingelassenwerden.


Jemandhttemerkenmssen,daich Hilfe brauche. So, wie
Mama das merkt. So wie ich das merke. (Z. F. 201)

Thus Irene's thoughtshighlight her fears, feelingsof isolationand the absenceof love, in
particular her mother's, during her time at school. All thesenegative feelings only emerge

it
is
the school which provides the setting for Irene's suicide. In this
at school and
daughter'scasetheeducationsystemmust,therefore,be seenaspartly to blamefor driving
this young girl to her death."

The statesof depressionwhich Irene experiencesare

indicative of the motiveswhich instigateother young people to take their own life, as
hereby Schneidman:
pointedout at the start of this chapterand emphasised

Closely related to hopelessness- helplessnessis the


is
(
)
There
loneliness.
feeling
emotional
overpowering
of
...
loneliness that rests on the important need to have a
compatible,close, one-to-onerelationship. There is social
loneliness,feeling disconnected,not tied in with groups or
11
sub-groups.

300
As we haveseen,Irene's lonelinessdoesresult from the fact that her motherwith whom
shehasenjoyeda closerelationshipis no longerpresentand, furthermore,the schooldoes
not allow groupsof girls to form closefriendships.
Katjaalsoexperiences
socialandemotionallonelinessbecauseduringher upbringingher
mother is too busy with her work to spendtime with her daughter; and during her marriage

Katja's husbandis preoccupiedwith setting up a car maintenancebusinessand more


interestedin his former girlfriend and baby. The fact that Katja is unhappyas a child is
commented upon by a friend of her mother, Rosemarie, to whom Katja reveals that she

wishesfor a motherwho is not so politically committedand motivatedby the past: "Sie


"
ist,
37).
(K.
Mutter
die
Mutter,
nichts anderes"
S,
ehnt sich nach einer
einfach nur
increasingly
it
becomes
Resentment
towardsher mother'swork andanyoneassociated
with
fact
her
is
that
Katja
the
As
of
evidentas
grows older.
a young child she only aware
her.
On
fuss
her
is
from
home
to
over
and
mother often away
and not present nurture
ist
her
"Es
from
friend's
house
Katja
to
eine.richtige,
mother:
remarks
returning
a visit to a
Familie" (K. 29), the implicationis that shedoesnot seeher homeas providing the ideal
family-setting;and shedoesblameher motherfor not creatingthis setting." In fact, Katja
neverbringshomeschoolfriends- this maybe dueto the fact that shefeelsashamedof the
lack of familial warmth at home,but an explanationis not given in the text. Not only is
this daughterannoyedby her mother'sfrequentabsences,but she is also angeredby the
frequentreunionsthe motherhasat homewith her friendsfrom RavensbrOck.Sheaccuses
her motherof havingtime for her friendsbut no time to play with her daughter. As a child
is
Katja expressesher hatredof theseRavensbrOck
womenwhom she supposedto regard
"
Katja
her
lost
Most
have
their
they
these
shower
as
aunts.
own children so
of
women
with gifts and call her childish names. But Katja rebelsagainstall the attention,screams

301
and fights againstbeing pickedup. Shedoesnot regardthesewomenas her friendsand
it is her motherwhom shewants. As will becomeclearerlater, Katja is not only jealous
of the closerelationshipher motherhaswith her friends,but shealsoobjectsto havingto
listen to their memoriesof life in the concentrationcampand the constantdredging-upof
the past.

In previouschapterswe notedthat lack of communicationand the inability to express


feelingscausedthegreatestrift betweenparentandchild. Zinner's portrayalof this mother
The
is
daughter
the
Haidegger's
exception.
provides
novel
and
no exception, whilst
mother's lack of time for Katja meant that any chanceof creating a close relationship and

developingthis wasdoomedfrom the outset. This motherwaseithertoo busyto converse


for
in
daughter
it
day
her
the
mood
the
time
not
she
was
and
or was
of
with
wrong
damage
the
The
be
tone
was
and
of
voice
conversation.
result would a rebuff, a wrong
iffeparable:

"Ich will dich etwasfragen."


"Mu das jetzt sein?"

Wie oft hatte ich sie mit diesen

Worten abgespeist.
"Nicht

unbedingt,"

antwortete sie und stand auf.

Anscheinendhattesie erwartet,abgewiesenzu werden.

"Na, was hastdu auf dem Herzen?" fragte ich dann. Mein
Ton pateihr nicht, er schienihr zu tantenhaft. (K. 41)

302
Katja's responsewasto withdrawincreasinglyinto herself,to stayin her bedroomandnot
come out when friends of her mother visited. A phaseof playing truant from school, which

indicative
her
home,
did
her
have
the
mother's
at
effect
of
arousing
was
of
unhappiness
not
attentionbecauseher motherleft her husbandto sort out the problemwith their daughter.
Another indication of Katja's reaction to being socially and emotionally alone was that at

the ageof sixteenshestartedto bring menhometo her own room over night, locking the
door so that her parentscould not enter. On the onehand,her behavioursignalledthat she
felt deprived of love from her parents and, therefore, turned to sexual relationships for
her
her
forcing
hand,
to
the
attention and
pay
parents
some comfort; on
other
she was

father
her
discussion:
discuss
threatened
However,
the
there
no
was
perhapseven
matter.
to throw her out andput her into an institution. Katja's reactionwas to showindifference
bluff.
her
become
to
had
doing,
call
parents'
as she
used to
as was noted earlier, and
Thus, time for in-depthcommunicationbetweenthis daughterand her parentswas not
from
home,
during
her
Katja
away
and
moved
married
upbringing,andevenafter
possible
her phonecalls to her motherwere receivedwith impatiencebecausethey interruptedher
busy schedule.Oneof the sadfactsof this story is that it is only at her daughter'sfuneral,
from
it
is
late,
too
that the motherrealisesto what extentcommunicationwasabsent
when
their relationship:"Wie oft sprechenwir so aneinandervorbei, ohneunsdessenbewutzu
lack
itself
102)
death
(K.
Katja's
that
of communication.
of
evidence
and
was
werden"
As previously indicated, a 'successful'parasuicidewould have communicatedthis
daughter'sneedfor attention,not only from her parentsbut also, andprimarily, from her
husband, from whom she wanted proof of love becauseshe felt insecure in their
five
days
first,
discovered
insecurity
in
her
Katja's
twofold:
she
relationship.
marriagewas
before their wedding day that Uwe was still visiting his former girlfriend, who was

303
expectingtheir baby. At the time Katja hadthreatenedto put a halt to their marriageplans
but Uwe hadreassuredher thattherewasnothingto worry aboutbecausethis marriagewas
far too important. This bringsus to the secondreasonfor Katja's senseof insecurityin this
relationshipwith a manwho wasten yearsolder thanshewas: duringthe honeymoonUwe
reveals that he wants Katja's father to help him set up a car maintenanceworkshop by

obtaininga businesslicencethroughhis contacts.Katja knowsthat her fatherwould never


in
his
friends
use
sucha way, thus wordsof angerand screamsensuebetweenthe newlyweds. Back at her parents' home the argument becomes so vehement that the mother
suspectsthat Uwe had, or would, hit his wife:

Ich selbst wre, wenn ein Mann seine Hand gegen mich

erhobenhtte, nicht eine Stundelnger bei ihm geblieben.


Aber nochwar das
Und nun sollte Katja, meineTochter
...
ja nur eine lcherliche,durch nichtsbegrndeteVermutung.
Erst sptersollte ich erfahren,dasie stimmte. (K. 98)

The reader'ssuspicionthat Uwe had marriedKatja for ulterior motivesis provedcorrect


during this angry scenewith her parentswherehe admitsthat he would not havemarried
' Although Katja burstsinto tears, she
Katja, had it not been for her father's contacts.
follows Uwe who treats her "wie ein Herr, der seinemHund pfeift" (K. 99). The
do
is
is
him
his
loves
because
that
that
shewill
suggestion
she under control
she
so much
for
him: she has becometotally dependenton him, emotionallyand sexually.
anything
Uwe's control over his wife and her dependence
is madeevenmore apparentby the way
in which he is able to force her to hand in her notice at the Charit6 hospital under the

304
pretextthat sheshouldwork with him in his newbusiness,eventhoughhe knowsthatKatja
is dedicatedto her careeras a nurse. He alsopersuadesher to visit her parentsagainto
ask for DM5,000 to supporthis businessventure. Katja's motherrefusesto help because
her daughterdoesnot admit the reasonfor the request.23 From the outset,then, Katja's
marriage is fraught with problems. Her dependenceon her husbandis such that he is able

to manipulateher accordingto his will. If shedoesnot do what he wants,he threatensto


leaveher, anddoeson a numberof occasionsstayawayfrom home. It is not surprising,
therefore, that Katja is driven to such drastic action as an overdose, not only to try and

force Uwe to comeback to her, but also to showher desperation. Her parasuicidewas
intendedto be a method,albeit a risky one, of communication;however,her deathturned
out to be her last act.
As previouslymentioned,therelationshipbetweenIreneandher motheris a harmonious
love
love
for
Throughout
the
the
their
mother's
narrative
one on accountof
oneanother.
for her daughteris apparent,be it in the form of physical embraces,encouragement,
her
'
devotion
her
to
Similarly
Irene
supportor protection.
acknowledges attachmentand
illustrates.
Haidegger's
its
But
love
have
too
novel
problems,as
mother.
much
can also
One aspectof Irene's decision to commit suicide is her willingness to sacrifice her own life

to benefit her mother's life - such is the extent of her love for her mother. And as
is
her
from
the
her
is
Irene
all
to
separation
mother,
so attached
explainedearlier, since
looked
has
When
boarding-school.
to
to
at the mothershe
we
more painful when
go
daughterrelationshipin ChapterTwo, it was noted that the processof identificationthe
daughterundergoesis complex and ambivalent,so that, althoughHaideggerpresentsa
relationshipwhich is outwardlyvery loving, Irenedoeshaveto confrontinner conflictsand
feelingsof guilt which are part of the identificationprocess. For Ireneher motheris "das

305
groBeVorbild" (Z.F. 164)so that the mostdifficult problemshefacesin their relationship
is the conflict of wanting as well as feeling she has to be like her mother, whom she sees

develop
her
to
the
the
time
own
at
as
personificationof goodness,and
same
wanting
individuality. Irene believesthat shewill neverbe able to meetthe high moral standards
by which her motherlives her life; the fact that she seesevery personas being innately
important
in
is
is
love
thing
the world.
that
the
good and convinced
most
of mankind
Interestingly,this mother, like the punishingmothersdepictedby Mitgutschand Novak,
decent
become
brought
that
to
the
children would only
was also
up according
principle
love
being
disciplined
their
through
that
of
parents' expression
adults
and
punishmentwas

for them. However,Irene's motherdoesnot repeatthis methodof child-raising;instead,


having learnt from -her own experiences,she refusesto punish her child physically,
believingthat love will be the solutionto any problem.25 The implicationis, though,that
this mother'sperceptionof life is idealisticand naive, and it is this aspectwhich perturbs
her daughtermostof all becausenot only is sheafraid thatpeopleabuseher mother'strust
is
does
her
not alwayscatch what somebody
on accountof
partial deafness,so that she
because
like
her
do
her
is
fact
she
that
somepeople not
and oblivious to the
sayingabout
is Germanand a Protestant,but also Irene doesnot haveher mother'sidealisticview of
26
Hence
her
the
life, so that shebelievesshecan neverbe as good-naturedas
role-model.
daughter:
her
is
fails
her
things
that
of
she
suggestion
motherwho expectssuchgood

Ich wrdesogerneganzwie Mamasein. Aber esgelingtmir


ich
Ich
die
Leute
sich
sie
mir
zeigen,
und
nicht.
sehe
so, wie
ich,
ihr
ndern,
Bild
fr
zu
auch
wenn
versuchenicht,
mich
oft mchte,dasie anderswren. ( ... ) Ich will GUT sein,

306
will Mama Freude machen, will, da man mich als
freundlichesund nettesKind sieht, aber immer wieder kommt
.

etwasdazwischen.(Z.F. 111)

Closely related to this mother's goodnessand perception of life is the fact that she is a

devout, church-goingChristian whosefaith forms the foundationof her daily existence.


God and the church are, therefore,part of her daughter'supbringing. In fact, the first
books from which Irene learns to read are the Bible and a hymn book. Throughout her
childhood the Bible is one of her favourite books becauseshe likes to copy its languagein

her own writing, which will be lookedat morecloselylater in this chapter. As a four-yearold Irene is afraid of the Catholic God becauseshebelievesthat shewill be sentto hell,
less
'
less
have
begins
is
daughter
Protestant.
to
As
this
and
sinceshe a
shegrows older
bad
but
faith in Godbecausesheassociates
God
things
more
and
sees
more
with
all good
thingshappeningaroundher, particularlythe fact that her motherhasto work so hard but
is
her
little
because
for
does
the sewingshe
moneyand she
peopleowe
earnsso
money
ich
kann
ich
for
it:
Bses,
ich
"Wohin
to
mir
soviel
und
ask
ashamed
auch sehe,sehe
28
Irene
95).
boarding-school
hat"
At
(Z.
F.
da
das
Gott
nicht
vorstellen,
einfach
so gewollt

finds it increasinglydifficult to believein God and realisesthat she continuesto attend


Bible.
for
her
likes
the
because
the
the
sakeof
ministerandreading
church
she
motherand
Shejudges herself as anythingbut good: "Vielleicht bin ich gar nicht bestimmt,GUT zu
denken
ist
deshalb
den
GO'IT
LIEBEN
fr
und
zu
sein, vielleicht es
so schwer mich, an
ich
dasbisher getanhabe?" (Z.F. 155). As in Mitgutsch'snovelpwhere
zu glauben,wie
the daughterwas brought up to believe that her mother was enforcingGod's will, Irene
cannotseparateher mother'sgoodnessfrom her faith in God so that the physicalabsence

307
is
her
from
God
her
life.
When
the
she separated
of
motherat schoolsignals absenceof
from her mother, shefinds it ever more impossibleto live up to her mother'sidealsand
the principlesof the church." For Irenethis provesto be a painful realisationbecauseshe
believesthat sheis letting her motherdown and that her loss of faith may be interpreted
For
loss
love
for
her
is
the
two
to
the
she
sees
entwined.
as
of
mother- such
extent which
the readerthis daughter'sdiffering opinion from that of her motherand the changesher
thoughtsundergoare indicative of the fact that she is developingher own ideas and
from
her
the
mother.
experiencing processof psychologicalseparation
is complicatedby the
The processof identificationandindividuationIrene experiences
fact that sheregardsher motheras beingperfect: shewantsto identify with her and feels
her.
is
Thus
the
her
to
fulfil
her
to
so
good
mother
mother'sexpectationssince
obliged
implicationis that sheis underpressure. At schoolsheis forced into being independent
becauseher motheris not thereandbecausethe teachersexpecttheir pupils to copeon their
Irene
in
to
independent
Aware
become
survive,
the
order
and self-reliant
of
needto
own.
facesan identity crisis: she is drawn to her motherand everythingsherepresentsso that
her attachmentto her motheris still strongbut shealso has to, and wantsto, createher
individuality:
her
develop
break
in
free
from
dependence
to
to
this
order
own self,

Immer habeich gedacht,selbstdenkenzu knnen,und nun


seheich, da ich eigentlichdoch sehrvon Mama, abhnge.
Nicht, da ich so gut wre wie sie, oder so fromm, oder
vielleicht so fleiig, aberihre Art, mit Menschenumzugehen,
ihre Art zu redenoder zu schweigenin all denJahren,haben
habe
ich
bin.
Ich
mich gar nicht selbst
mich so gemachtwie

308
gemacht,sondernsie und die anderenLeute, mit denenwir
umgegangen
sind, habenmich zu demgemacht,wasich bin.
Vielleicht leide ich deshalb so unter einer komischen
Traurigkeit, weil ich vielleicht gar nicht so seinmchte,wie
Mama das will.

(Z. F. 155)

Even when Irene is away from her motherat schoolsherealisesthat her whole attitude
towards life has been determinedby her mother and that everything she does, saysor feels

is alwayswith her motherin mind: what her motherwould do in her situation,what effect
have
something would
on her mother and so forth. The strength of the mother-daughter
bond is thus evident from the fact that Irene's thoughts constantly revolve around her

ich
her
"Bin
is
leads
her
to
to questionto what extentshe similar
mother:
mother,which
daughter
ich
innerlich
164).
The
"
(Z.
F.
Bin
this
Mutter?
questions
wie sie?
so wie meine
in
fact,
have
does,
illustrate
her
identity
her
an
andwhethershe
poses
anxietiesabout own
identity of her own: "Wer wei, wer ich bin, und was? ( ) Was ist das,diesesICH, von
...
dem hier die Redeist? Was machtdiesesICH aus? Worausbestehtes? Wohin geht es?
Woher ist es gekommen?
" (Z.F. 163). The fact that Irene cannotidentify her ego once
her,
from
is
her
that
and
that
sheis inseparable
mother
againsuggests she so muchpart of
her
last
daughter's
thoughts
this
mother, w ic
are of
as already mentioned,
very
30
idea
internalised
her
has
the
that
mother.
emphasises
she
bond, it is often the
As was highlightedin our earlier analysisof the mother-daughter
The
daughter
interdependent
that
that
their
motherand
and
case
roles are reversible.
are
Fenster
in
Zwn
by
Haidegger
The
Zinner
this
portrayals
point.
mother
and
also make
hinausrelies on her daughterfor love. Her husbandis presumeddeadso the only person

309
is
her
life
any meaning Irene. A numberof men showan interestin marrying
who gives
her but sheremainsdevotedandfaithful to the memoryof her husbandandthe life of their
child. Her husband'slast words were that she shouldtake good care of Irene, thus she
fulfils his request. At the sametime shedependson Irene to carry out her father'sdream
her
has
looked
Irene
the
about
at
worries
of a good education, as was explained when we

keeps
it
be
Irene
From
the memory
that
the
schoolwork.
mother'sperspective could said
is
daughter
her
husband
does
form
the
no
to
alive, which
of alienation,whereby
of
point a
longer a person in her own right but an embodiment of her father's dreams and wishes,
indirectly
is
her
daughter
his
dependence
Thus
the
on
memory.
encapsulating
mother's

indicative of her dependenceon her husband. Another sign of the mother-daughter


is the ability of thedaughterto assumethe role of mother,evenasa child.
interdependence
Irene comfortsher motherwho breaksdownandcries whenIrene'sprimary schoolteacher
tries to dissuadeher from encouragingher daughterto try for the grammarschoolbecause
it is not the placefor daughtersof war widows. Sheevensuggeststo the motherthat she
for
her:
improving
if
Irene's
the
an
outfit
motheraltered
would consider
grades,

Ich -knnte die Lehrerin umbringen, da sie Mama zum

Weinengebrachthat, aberich unterdrckedenZorn undgehe


lege
den
Kopf
bichen,
bin
Mama
trste
an
zu
sie ein
und
ihre Wange,damit sie merkt, sie ist nicht alleineund ich bin
ganznah bei ihr. (Z.F. 95)

Here thedaughteris ableto provideher motherwith physicalcomfort: sheappearsstronger


becauseher motheris in the unusualsituationof having beenangeredand hurt. Sucha

310
sceneis out of the ordinary in this narrative where the mother normally comforts her child.
However, Irene does make a direct reference to their role reversal when she notes the
ich,
denke
idealistic
her
"Oft
life
her
to
makes
vulnerable:
mother's
view of
extent which
da
die
Welt
ich
ist
(
)
das
bin
Es
Kind,
tut
nicht
es
sie.
weh,
sie
und
erwachsenerals
...
31
it
is
illustrations
in
der
lebt"
111).
(Z.
Mama
F.
From
the
apparent that the
above
gibt,
her.
her
just
Irene
needs
child
mother needs
as much as

However, the mother's

dependenceon her daughter, not only for love and support but also for fulfilling her
husband'sambitions, is another form of pressurefor this young girl. Irene, in fact, points
husband
find
be
'free'
her
is
to
her
that
new
a
mother will
one aspect of
suicide that
out
and a different, loving relationship.

Indirectly, she is implying that it is not her

has
been
life.
As
her
in
left
fill
father
loss
her
to
the
the
mother's
gap
responsibility
of
fact
that
to
the
forms
Irene
all
point
which
of
pressure
comesup against numerous
shown,
the influences of the past and present are not compatible, that conflicting emotions are
unresolvable.
A very similar conclusion can be reachedabout Katja's life, for in Zinner's novel the

daughteralsoexperiencesfeelingsof guilt in her ambivalentrelationshipwith her mother,


in
her
ideals
living
like
Irene,
faces
difficulty
to
the
embodied
the
up
of
she too
and
this
have
the
of
In
be
ambivalence
this
considered
shownafter we
work, as will
parents.
it
instead
her
it
bond,
is
standards,
mother-daughter
not religion by which the mothersets
is the principlesof communismwhich shapethe life of Katja's motherand father. As was
in
explainedearlier this chapter,lack of communicationwas the causeof manyproblems
for Katja and her parents,that is not to suggest,however,that this daughterdid not love
her parents,just as her mostcommonreaction,indifference,beliedpain and suffering. In
her
Katja
her
female
letter
friend,-Annemarie,who was also a nurse,
admitted
to
only
a

311
love for her parents:"Ich liebemeineEltern, nur bedeutetdasnicht, siekritiklos zu lieben.
()

Ich wei auch, was die Eltern alles fr mich getan haben und tun" (K. 83).

Throughoutthe mother'srecollectionsthere is only one mentionof daughterand mother


embracing.Katja's hug astonishedher motherbecauseit wasso unlike her to demonstrate
affection. The spontaneousreaction by Katja had been a display of gratitude for her
mother's offer to bake a cake for the visit of Annemarie: "Katja umarmte mich in ihrer

immer etwas burschikosenArt und sagte: 'Du bist doch die Beste'" (K. 68). Such
demonstrativeappreciation of her mother as a parent is unusual for this daughter who is
indifference.
her
by
dint
displeasure
to
arguments
or
of
prone showing
and annoyanceeither
Nevertheless, there is an underlying admiration for her mother which can be seen in the
32
for
Katja's
choice of professions. After failing to obtain the results she required
reasons

for studyingfor the 'Abitur' andgoing on to studymedicine,Katja haddecidedto become


her
based
is
Katja
it
Although
is
that
choice
probable
an actress.
an explanation not given,
daughter's
been
The
fact
herself
her
had
the
that
an actress.
once
of professionon
mother
her
identification
indicative
her
into
be
with
of
actingshould,therefore, seenas
wish to go
did
daughter's
her
her
Whilst
by
not
career-decision,she
mother.
motherwas surprised
discourageher, insteadshe advisedher to apply for a place at dramaschooland sit the
had
daughter
her
for
but
helped
her
learn
that
Katja
to
could see
parts
exams, which she
down,
for
drama
flair
for
turned
After
Katja's
schoolwas
acting.
no natural
application
but,
her
for
in
as
to
parents
a career nursing which cameas anothershock
she opted
decision
her
in
death,
Katja's
was
explainedearlier our analysisof
confrontationwith
influencedby her mother'spastexperiences,so that againthis suggests
the daughter'swish
to identify with her mother. This may alsohavebeena way of gettingcloserto her mother
to
bridging
been
between
trying
have
because
the
them,
and
gap
subconsciously
shecould

312
impressher mother,first, by choosingsucha careerpath, second,by succeeding
in getting
a training-place,and third, by doing well in thejob and not giving up, as her motherhad
expectedher to do.
It is not only Katja's careerchoicethat illustratesidentificationwith the mother, but
there are also behavioural characteristicswhich underline their similarities, so that on a

psychologicallevel this motherand daughterare closerthan they realiseor care to admit.


Irony lies in the fact that the mothercomplainsaboutKatja being cold and heartless,as
indifference,
by
her
manifested
yet there is no evidenceof her own warmth:

"Unentwegtist mit dem Mdchenetwaslos," sagteich, dem


Weinennahe. "Das sie berhauptnicht an mich denkt.'
"Das stimmt nicht," widersprachRosemarie. "Sie hngt
sogarsehran dir. "
"Dann verstehtsie es gut, ihre Gefhlezu verheimlichen,
37)
davon
bemerkt.
"
(K.
ich
bitter.
habe
"Ich
meinte
nichts

For the reader it is not surprising that Katja is able to hide her feelings behind indifference

becauseshe would have seenthat her role-modelwas herself incapableof expressing


emotions,especiallylove, in her relationshipwith her. Evenafter Katja's deaththe mother
neveractually statesthat sheloved her. Insteadshestressesthat, after having spenteight
in
her
feelings,
had
learnt
to
a
concentration
control
so that they were
years
camp, she
subordinateto reasonand logic:, -

313
Da fr mich immer nur die eine, die rationelle Seite zum
Kriterium des Ganzen wurde, hatte mir den Zugang zum

WesenmeinerTochterunmglichgemacht.Das erkannteich
jetzt. Ich war zu sehrvon mir ausgegangen,
besondersvon
den Jahren in Ravensbrck, wo ich gelernt hatte, Gefhle
immer dem Verstand unterzuordnen. (K. 150)

Thus, as a person, Fini KomarsId had hardenedin order to endure all the suffering around

her; as a mother, shefailed her daughterduring the critical yearsof childhood. The fact
that this motherhad also trainedto be an actressmeantthat shewas able to disguisethe
truth with ease and again conceal emotions: the training stood her in good stead for

"
her
behaved
it
own child:
with
surviving the Nazi r6gime,but affectedthe way she

Manchmaldenkeich, da wir dieseZurcknahmekultiviert


haben,stattechteund falscheGefhleerkennbarzu machen.
Damit frdernwir eineArt Heuchelei:die Angst, Gefhlezu
AuBem. (K. 63)34

Just as this mother had learnt to protect her inner feelings, so her daughterdeveloped
Ar-indifferenceto hide her emotions. It is possiblethat this was anotheraspect,but only a
failed
fact
in
influenced
interest
that
her
the
she
acting,andperhaps
own
minor one, which
the dramaschool'sentranceexamwastelling becauseit showedthat shewasnot very good
incomprehensible
false
It
does
therefore,
at actingandpresentinga
somewhat
self.
seem,
thather own mother,who wasfamiliar with theactingprofession,couldnot tell whenKatja

314

wasconcealingthe truth from her. But this probablyhadto do with the fact that shewas
preoccupiedwith her work and frequently away on tours, so that she did not have the time

to seeandunderstandthe causesof Katja's behaviour. It is only after her daughter'sdeath


that shedoesmakethe time to analyseher mistakes,as will be explainedwhenwe consider
who, if anyone, is to blame for Katja's death.
What is significant at this stage of our analysis of mother and daughter is that there is

evidencein the novel of their similarities:Katja's identificationwith her motherinfluences


her own behaviour and choice of career,just as Irene had pointed out that it was her mother
who moulded her attitude to life. And as in Zum Fenster hinaus there are signs of role

reversal. When the motherattemptsto help her daughterwith homeworkin order to pay
her some attention, it is Katja who teachesher easier methodsof solving the mathematical

"
problems.

Thus the mother becomesthe pupil who is in need of guidance. This

particularrole reversalof pupil and teacheris reiterated,and notedby the mother,during


one of the few, brief conversationsshe has with Katja. The subjectof the discussionis
Stephan,Katja's father. The daughtercommentsthat shefeelssorry for her fatherbecause
he appearsto always be sad and sheputs this down to his inability to competewith his
wife. ThusKatja seesher motheras responsiblefor her father'stendencyto be depressed:

"Du hast manchmalso eine Art, die keinen Widerspruch


aufkommenlt. Vielleicht hastdu dasim Lagergebraucht."
Es kam m.ir vor, als httenwir die Rollen getauscht,als sei
berlegene
die
sie
und ich das Schulldnd. (K. 39)"

315
Whilst the motherperceivesthat sheis thepupil, learningfrom her daughteraboutherself,
she does not heed the significance of Katja's remark at the time. Ironically, she herself

describes Katja's behaviour as "widersprfichlich" (K. 46) so that it is perhaps


in
does
for
inconsistencies
that
understandable a mother,who
not allow
contradictionsand
her life, cannot relate to a daughterwho appearsto be contradictory and inconsistentin her

behaviour.
The developmentof Katja's individuality as shegrows up is hinderedby the problems
she has predominantly with her mother becausethe indifference she grows accustomedto
is
is
her
Its
showing not naturally part of
cause the mother's 'obsession' with
personality.

her own past, which for Katja createsan oppressiveatmospherebecausethis past is


constantly forced upon her against her will, be it in the form of reunions of RavensbrOck

lectures,
her
in
listen
her
home,
being
by
her
to
to
taken
or at school,where
women
mother
teacherssing thepraisesof her mother'sactiveresistanceof Nazismandwant her to come
her
in
decision
her
her
interprets
to
Katja
a
talks
put
mother's
and give
about
past.
even
bome
in
fact,
decision
home
into
the
her
of
was,
children's
as putting
a camp,although
look
found
housekeeper
to
after
was
necessityandonly a short-termsolutionuntil a suitable
Katja. Yet it is in the children's homethat Katja learnsto confidein Grofle, the headof
the institution, to whom sherevealsthat shehatesthe historicalambiencein which sheis
forcedto live, believingthat it is poisoningher upbringing. Shortly beforeher dea Katja
her
GroBe
bitterness
to
the
mother'swork
she
and
which
regarded
explains
returns
with
during her childhoodand the effect it had upon the shapingof her character:

"Aber ich stumpfte ab, ich mute es," erklrte sie mir,
"andershtteich nicht lebenknnen. Es war Selbstschutz.

316
Und ich reagierte allergisch auf alles, was mit diesen
Geschehnissenzu tun hatte. Dieses Abstumpfen als Folge

denenich alsKind ausgesetzt


groerBelastungen,
war, indem
manmir die Vergangenheit
stndigvor Augenhielt, war einer
der grten Erziehungsfehlerbei meiner Erziehung, und man

sollte diese Gefahr auch bei anderenJugendlichennicht


fibersehen.
" (K. 147)

Not only was indifference a reaction to the stifling effect of reminders of the past, but, as

pointedout earlier in this chapter,Katja alsowithdrewinto her own world from which she
excludedher parentsbut includeddifferent men from whom she soughtpleasure,in the
form of sex, one of thesemen being Uwe. For Katja marriageto Uwe is basedon a
numberof reasons:love and sex; escapefrom her parents'homeand the remindersof the
past; as well as an act of rebellion againsteverythingher parentsrepresented.This last
reasonwill be consideredin duecourse. For this daughtermarriage,then,appearedto be
the solutionto her problemsand seemedto provide an escape-route.
We haveseenin our analysisof previousportrayalsthat in times of crisis the majority
of daughtersturnedto artistic creativity,to a world of fantasyanddreamswheretheycould
either forget their problemsor try and understandtheir anxietiesby writing about them.
This was evidentin ChapterOnewhere daughterswrote aboutthe deathsof their fathers
to cometo termswith their loss; in the relationshipsof mothersanddaughtersthe narrator

of Ausflugmit der Mutteremphasised


thepointthatby writingabouther mother,shewas
turn to
showingher love for her aswell aslearningaboutherself;bothadopteddaughters
readingand writing as a way of finding comfort andcopingwith their lives. Whilst Katja

317
improving
her life, Ireneseekssolacein writing anddrawingaswell
envisagesmarriageas
her
in
her
by
her
boarding-school
diary,
At
keeps
to
as
enjoymentof reading.
a
given
she
37
for
in
her
homesickness.
Irene
The
to
processof writing
mother, order
overcome
involvesboth the creationof a new friend, to whom shecantalk, as well as a conversation
less
it,
less
herself:
her
her
thus,
and
serious
with
confusions
releases
anxieties and makes

important:

Das Tagebuchhilft mir sehr, mich zurechtzufinden. Es hrt

lesen
ich
kann
spter
wieder
sich sozusagen
es
alles an und
das
habe
inzwischen
berwunden,
oft traurige
und
es
meist
Gefhl, das mich zum Schreibenveranlat hat. (Z. F. 141?'

for Irene's doubts. In her storiesIrene


The diary, therefore,becomesa sounding-board
her
is
herself
figures
in
because
sees
never
unhappy;she
portrays unhappy
reality she
in
believes
that
Nobody
laughing
her
she
school
school.
at
and
mother
peersare also sad
invents her storiesherself and the sameis said of the poemsshe writes for the school
in
less
is
her
In
that
order
read
sheshould
newspaper.
schoolreport the suggestion made
be
imagination.
to
her
Hence
unsupportive,
to curb
the educationsystemis shown
active
for
have
The
discouraging,
teachers
no respect
of this younggirl's artistic creativity.
even
Irene's ability nor for privacy, which is illustratedby the fact that someof them readher
diary whilst sheis at home over Christmas. Irene's reactionto this discoveryis to bum
her diary. Her angerand disappointmentare evidentbecauseshehad believedit was her
these
her
but
thoughts
made
teacher's
the
personal
own private property,
reading of
thoughtsin her diary public knowledge. Her actiondoessuggestthat shebelievedit was

318
safer to bum the evidencethan offer strangersthe chanceto pry into her innermost
emotions. When at home during the vacationsIrene paints landscapesin uninterrupted
images
landscapes,
Her
the
of
privacy.
paintingsare of vast, open
suchas
seaor sky,
freedom: "Dann kann ich mich HINEINVERLIEREN"

(Z. F. 138)."

She never paints

anything bright or colourful and never depicts any people, which does underline her own
sadnessand loneliness. Nonetheless, art, be it painting, writing or reading, provides a

hiding-place,somewhereto which to escape,where the mind shutsout the drudgeryof


reality, all the worries and fears, but, as Haidegger's novel illustrates, it is not a permanent

40
it
discovers
is
Katja's
destroy.
Interestingly,
to
some
mother
also
solution and
easy
when
comfort and strengthin art, in the form of poetry, during her time in RavensbrOck,
she recalls four lines from Heine's poetry:

Anfangswollt ich fast verzagen,


Und ich glaubt, ich trg es nie;
Und ich hab es doch getragenAber fragt mich nur nicht, wie? (K 66)11

The verseendowsthe motherwith the couragenot to give up in her time of crisis. Her
fellow-captives,
her
but
herself
helping,
also
not only
concertsandplaysare anotherway of
to temporarilyforget their sufferingandenablethemto survivein the concentrationcamp.
She is unable to have the sameinfluenceon her daughterwho doesnot turn to art for
her
help
but
is
her
Uwe,
to
to
to
escape pastand
anotherperson,
support,
who supposed
ultimately saveher from death.

319
This bringsus to theproblemof apportioningblamein thesenovels,the extentto which
loved onesin the lives of thesedaughterscan be held responsiblefor their tragic deaths,
if
in
influencing
death.
daughter's
towards
the
any,
step
as well as part societyplays,
each
In Zinner's novel Katja's motherdoesreproachherselffor not havingadequatelyfulfilled
her role as a mother, for neglecting Katja throughout her childhood and into womanhood,

after
whilst enjoyingandfurtheringher own career,but sheonly reachesthis understanding
fact
in
lies
her daughter'sdeath. Tbusthe tragedyof this mother-daughter
the
relationship
that only as a result of Katja's death does the mother come to understandand accept her
brings
funeral
immediacy
during
faults.
impact
death
The
the
about this
service
own
and
of

Leben
htte
das
"Ich
Kind
seinem
um
mit
abstrampelte,
realisation:
sehenmssen,wie sich
zurechtzukommen. Ich htte, htte, htte

damit schlageich mich ohne Unterla herum"


...

(K. 45). Analystspoint to the fact that it is commonfor parentsto haveintensefeelings


of guilt after their child's suicide:

The senseof guilt is especiallygreat where it concerns


parents who had no particularly close ties with the child
helpless
felt
and
powerless
concemed and who
relatively
towards him or her.

Questionslike: "What did we do

()
"
him
have
",
"Shouldn't
attention?
more
paid
wrong?
we
"
for
often tormentparents manyyearsafterwards.

Katja's motherdoesacknowledgethat sheand her husbandwere not awareat the time of


havingdoneanythingwrong; that they did try to puzzleout thereasonsfor their daughter's
her
however,
that
did
had
It
they
attitude which
not occur to them,
regardedas odd.

320
behaviour,ashasbeenshown,resultedfrom their attitudeandactions. By reliving thepast
and trying to piece togethereventsprior to her daughter'sdeath,the motherillustratesa
herself,
her
desperate
She
to
terms
to
to
needs
own
punish
with
conscience.
attempt come
to agoniseover her mistakesand shortcomingsin order to make somesenseof Katia's
death. It is, in fact, quite natural for a bereavedparent, a survivor, to undergosome
flow
in
have
been
"ambivalences
the
trauma,
of
that
and
ebb
resolved
psychic
since
may
"
The
in
life
held
frozen
frame,
actionof
and
pain".
guilt
everyday are
perhapswith extra
doing somethingseeminglyproductive, suchas talking to anyonewith whom Katja had
beenin contacton the day of her deathand investigatingthe death,is likely to provide a
her
feelings
her
to
for
At
time
cause
of
guilt
this
the
same
sourceof comfort
mother.
for
her
for
blame
the
own
to
scapegoats
make
and
search otherson whom she can shift
feelings: "Uwe war schuldam Unfabaren,davonwar ich berzeugt. Ich floh geradezu
"
in diesenGedanken.Floh ich nicht von mir selbst?Von meineneigenenSchuldgefhlen?
(K. 114). At the start of the funeral servicesheis evenpreparedto lay the blameon her
husbandand is taken abackby her thoughts:"Ich verstehemich selbstnicht, warum ist
StephansMitgefdhl mir kein Trost? Macheich ihn verantwortlichfOr KatjasTod? (... )
Wenn er schuldigist, dannbin ich'es viel mehr" (K. 7). The questionsand doubtsof this
it
investigating
however
sheundertakes,and
much
motherare neveradequatelyanswered,
is probablethat shewill neverfully understandher daughter'sdeath. Accordingto GOnter
H6hnein his review of Katja it wasHeddaZinner's intentionto posemanyquestions,not
German
East
for
death,
but
Katja's
society;
the
the
of
about
also
values
only about motives
however,shedid not intend to be able to answerall of them"

321
havecommentedon the influence
In studiesof the suicide'sparentalfamily researchers
of eachparenton the child who eventuallycommitssuicide. In 1965Teele had already
investigatedthe significanceof the mother'ssocialparticipation:

Surprisingly, mothers of suicides seem to be more socially


active,

intelligent,
more

more 'clear-minded'

and more

(
)
The
than
those
more
a
of
non-suicides.
understanding
...
person's mother participates in social activity, the more the
child-is exposed to society's ethics and norms, and the more
likely

he becomes to turn aggression inward rather than

45
outward.

finding
in
Kaud,
this
As we haveseenin our analysisof the mother-daughter
relationship
is an apt descriptionof Katjals motheranddoeshighlightthe difficulty Katja hasliving with
her mother'spast and coping with her presentproblemswith Uwe. From an early age
is
This
is
her
Katja exposedto
exposure reflected
mother'ssocialandpolitical activities.
in a schoolessayKatja writes in which shecriticisesthe achievements
of the EastGerman
by
is
42),
habe"
(K.
the
danken
Staat
ich
set
The
"Was
title,
zu
unserem
essay
state.
has
thirteen-year-old
gone
this
who
teacherwho reactsangrily whenshereadsthe work of
againsther teachings:

"Immerzuhrenwir, wie schlechtesdenKindern frher ging


die
Immerzu
uns
man
wirft
und wie gut es uns geht.
Vergangenheitvor und verlangt,dawir dankbarsind. Aber

322
wir sind doch nicht schuldan der Vergangenheit,und wir
knnennicht stndigdankeschn,dankeschn,sagen. Wir
sind doch auch der Staat, wenigstensbehauptetman das
immer, und wir werden schonzeigen, was in uns steckt,
wenn wir dran sind." (K. 43)

Despite the fact that the essayis grammatically virtually flawless, the teacher gives Katja
a low grade on account of her criticisms and the rebellious tone of her work. The scene
is indicative of the education system in the GDR where the pupils were discouragedfrom
expressing their opinion, or even having an opinion, especially about the state. And the
fact that this girl had the audacity to expresscriticism was an even worse sin in the eyes

of her teacher. Confrontedby her daughter'sangeraboutthe grade, the motheris torn


betweensupportingher child's right to expressher own opinion and not wanting to
underminethe teacher'sauthority. Her attemptto explain the teacher'sreactionto the
essayis sufficientproof for this daughterto recognisethe hypocrisyof this society: "lhr
sagt, man soll die Wahrheit sagen,aber wenn mandas tut, ist es nicht die Wahrheit" (K.
45). Suchconflict in the mind of this youngteenageralreadypointsto the futureproblems
has
she
of combining her parents' idealistic principles and her husband'scapitalist
tendenciesin her own life." Throughoutthe novel the authorplacesemphasison Katja's
inability to combinesuccessfullythe expectationsof her parentswho representthe old
guard, and the materialisticdemandsof Uwe who representsthe new generationand who
seessuccessas dependenton having the right connectionsor being a memberof the
CommunistParty.47 Just as Irene feels guilty about no longer believing in God and,
therefore,hurting her mother, Katja experiencesthe guilt of letting her parents'down by

323
falling in line with her husband's approach to life.

It is Uwe who, after Katja's death,

drawsthe mother'sattentionto his wife's conflict of loyalties:

"Es wreauchallesweiterganzgut gegangen,wennSienicht


mit Ihren bldsinnigenPrinzipien und Grundstzengekommen
wren. ( ... ) Und zwischen diesen Grundstzenund dem

wirklichen Leben ist Katja zugrundegegangen. Sie konnte


das nicht bereinbringen, das Alte und das Neue, das

Wirkliche und dasGewnschte.(... ) Sie hat auchmich und


ihr Elternhaus nicht bereinbringenknnen, das war
ausschlaggebend. Fr eines htte sie sich entscheiden

mssen,das konntesie nicht. Sie war wie zerrissen."


(K.

154)48

Whilst Uwe doesdescribecorrectlythe ambivalentsituationin which his youngwife found


herselfafter marryinghim, he is wrongto suggestto the motherthateverythingwould have
worked out well in his marriagehad it not beenfor the political and moral idealsof Fini
andStephan.He, too, tries to clearhimselfof any blamefor Katja's death,but aswe have
seen,he wasthe oneto leaveKati a whenshecould not provide what he wantedandit was
to him that Katja addressedher ultimatum.
The personalconflict Zinner depictsin Katja's relationshipwith her parentsand her
husbanddoeshave a wider significancebecauseit highlights the generalproblemsof a
generationgap, as well as the conflictingproblemsendemicof EastGermansocietyandits
developmentin the 1960s,wherethe pastideologyof socialismwas overlappingwith the

324
ideas
new
of ruthlessopportunism.In her novel Zinner showsthe extentto which conflict
within the family and within society is rife due to the changing attitudes from one
generationto the next. Katja's mothermakesa similar point whensherecognisesthat the
political commitment of her generationwas partly to blame for creating lack of
understanding and lack of communication with the younger generation: "Wir, die wir
Vorbild sein sollten, waren es, die unsere Kinder dem Endziel, fr das wir kmpfen,

entfremdeten,indem wir uns ihnen entfremdeten"(K. 38). In his review of Katja Hans
Jfirgen Geerdts focuseson the socio-political problems:

Die Fragen, die sich Fini stellt, sind Fragen allgemeinen


Gesellschaft.Sie haben
Charaktersin unserersozialistischen
da
der
Umstand,
Geprge.
Begreiflich
wird
vielschichges
ihr
Generation
heranwachsende
eigenes
sich -jede, neu
Verhltnis zu Gegenwartund Vergangenheitschaffenmu,
der
Gesellschaft
Erleben
ihr
also
eigenes originres
bertrage
im
der
keines
Mechanismus
kann
Es
artikuliert.
Idealevon einer Generationzu anderengeben."

Hence,Zinner questionsnot only the ethicalvaluesembeddedin EastGermansociety, ut


At
time
the
in
the
she
same
the
their
next
generation.
also
role of parents
of
upbringing
death
for
the
of Katja.
exposesindividual and collectiveresponsibilty
It shouldbe notedthat the motherin this novel doescombinea careerandchild-raising
have
Up
East
German
that
time.
till
not come
typical
now we
which was
of
womenat
acrossa motherwho is so politically-committedandcareer-oriented.In her article entitled

325
'Wie hoch ist eigentlich der Preis der Emanzipation7'Margy Gerber focuseson the
problemswomenin the GDR face in balancingwork with family life and the extentto
which their offspring suffer the consequences:

Emotionally disturbed, asocial, even suicidal children of


worldng mothers, are recurring figures in GDR women's

writing today. Increasingly,children are being viewed as


"
victims of women's emancipation.

With regardto Katja I do not agreewith Gerber'scommentbecause,as hasbecomeclear


in this analysis of Katja's death, it is not so much the fact that her mother works which

emotionallyaffectsKatja, rather it is her generation'sobsessionwith the atrocitiesof the


past which disturb this daughter,as well as the problemsin her relationshipwith Uwe.
is alsoquestionable.State
Moreover,thebelief thatEastGermanwomenwereemancipated
but
legal
did
to
motherhood
equality
allow women combinea careerwith
measuresand
for
housework,
the
still
regarded
even
were
children
and
women
as carrying responsibility
if they did havea full-time job which was usually in poorly-paidareasof the economy,
such as the service sector, health care and social welfare. In addition to this 'double
burden' of being both a worker and mother women in the GDR were also expectedto
perform a social or political role. For someof thesewomen their right to work was
fact
in
the
that manysocialbenefitswere
regardedmoreasan obligation,especially view of
tied to employment. It is not that straightforward,therefore,to speakof East German
women as being emancipated. As Irene D611ingpoints out "women were regarded
primarily functionally - as workersand as mothers-(... ) not as subjectswith a claim to

326
51
for
lives".
Thus, we find that East
their
the
self-determination and
responsibility
own

Germanwomen'sliteraturefrequentlyreflectsthis conflict betweenindividual wishesand


socialpressure:

literature in the GDR, in the absenceof a feminist public

sphere, is the genuine and primary place where women


communicateand thematizetheir experience.( ... ) given the
between
discrepancy
in
GDR
the
social emancienormous

both
traditional
the
a
roles
on
sex
pation and
preservationof
is
literature
GDR
ideological
level,
women's
private and

characterizedby a curious tensionbetweenconsciousself"


awarenessand critique.

Socialcommentaryis not as blatantin Zwn Fensterhinaus, althoughHaideggerdoes


German
because
feel
like
they
daughter
are
to
outsiders
portray a motherand
who are made
Austrians
53
does
her
Protestant.
In
the
Haidegger
some
prejudices of
reveal
and
novel

towardsGermansimmediatelyafter the SecondWorld War:

Alle Kinder im Kindergartensind katholisch,nur ich nicht.


Darum, und weil ich anderssprecheals sie, hauenmich die
Bubenoft, weil meineMutter eine DEUTSCHE ist und sie
schuldist, dawir denKrieg verlorenhabenundviele Kinder
keinenVater mehr haben. (Z.F. 45)

327

Thus, from an early ageIreneis exposedto hurtful prejudicesand, eventhoughtheseare


by
have
heard
by
the
their parents
these
children,
expressed
voiced
childrenwould
opinions
her
life
does
Irene
During
makea numberof referencesto people's
andotheradults.
short
attitudestowardsher andher mother'snationalityandfaith, so that theprejudicesdo affect
her and she does have a senseof being excluded from the community in which she lives.
At one point she actually wishes that people would like her and forget that her mother is

German:shejust wantsto be like any other ordinary girl and acceptedby thosearound
her.'

Even at boarding-school she is made to feel different becausethe majority of the

further
do
has
Catholic
than
to attend
they
to
and she
girls are
get up earlier and walk
in
fit
desire
increasing
her
loss
faith,
to
Due
and
to
as explained earlier, and a
church.
of
Thus,
for
Catholic
in
be
the
Irene
mass.
choir
not regardedas an outsider,
endsup singing

the pressuresthis young girl experiencescan alsobe attributedto the narrow-mindedness


if
feels
is
implication
in
is
The
that
brought
as
she
she
up.
of the community which she
is being continuallyjudged by her neighbours,teachers,peers,and mostimportantly,her
God.
her
father,
by
(and
is
'alive'
kept
mother's memories)and ultimately
mother
who
is further complicatedby the
Her senseof havingto live up to everyoneelse'sexpectations
fact that theseexpectationsare all different and conflicting, dependingon whethersheis
Haidegger
Zinner,
Like
boarding-school.
home,
in
or out and about town, or at
at
but
just
her
blame
daughter's
lays
for
on society
mother
the
on
therefore
this
suicidenot
as a whole.
As hasbeenshown,both novelshighlight the pressuresparentsexert on their children,
they
by
intellect
whether
or
they
and
reason,
are politically-committedandguided
whether
daughter
faith.
both
the
love
by
In
cases
and
are soft-heartedand sympathetic,andguided
internalisesthe belief that sheis letting her parentsdown so that shefeelsguilty, but at the

328
sametime sheis unableto resolvetheconflict of acknowledgingthe wisdomof her parents,
yet wantingto be a personin her own right by creatingher own identity. In a literal sense
eachgirl doesbreak away from her role-modeland lives separatedfrom her motherbut
neither daughtersucceedsin making the psychologicalbreak, suchis the extentof each
mother's influence. As we have seenin earlier studiesof the mother-daughterrelationship,

the portrayalsby Haideggerand Zinner are just as problematicand complex,so that the
bondin itself is not the reasonfor the daughter'sdeath,howevermuchthe motherblames
herself. In both novels there are many componentsto each daughter's final, tragic act.
Ultimately, each book serves as a warning, both to parents and any misguided principles

they might have, and to societyand its inability to heedthe warning signs.

329
NOTES TO CHAPTER FOUR

Jahrbuchder Bundesrepublik
Deutschland1990191,ed. by Emil HObnerandHorstHennekRohlfs (MOnchen:C.H. Beck, 1990),p. 15.

Kurt Biener, Selbstmordebei Kindern und Jugendlichen, 6th edn (Zrich: Verlag

Pro Juventute,1985),p. 11.

Larry Morton Gernsbachercomes to the sameconclusion in his study of suicide in


7he Suicide Syndrome: Origins, Manifestations, and Alleviation of Human Sey-

Destructiveness
(New York: HumanSciencesPress,1985),p. 16.

Janet Watts, 'Why Must They be Teenagersin Love with DeathT Observer,
17 May 1992,p. 48.

The classic factors associated with suicide by teenagers today include


unemployment,alcoholand drug abuseand Aids. SeeWatts, p. 48.

ChristineHaidegger,Zwn Fensterhinaus(Reinbekbei Hamburg:Rowohlt, 1986).


Hereafterreferredto as Z. F. with pagenumbersin brackets.

This is, of coursepIrene's perspective. Her mothermay only remarry on account


of her daughterand the financial securitya husbandmight offer the two of them.

330
8

Edwin Schneidman,
Definition of Suicide(New York: Wiley, 1985),pp. 128-129.

It turns out that Uwe had been married and divorced once before but did not
mention this to Katja.

10

Hedda Zinner, Katja (Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer, 1981). Abbreviated to K. with

paginationin parentheses.

11

Biener gives the following explanationfor why girls tend to commit suicideby
overdosing:

Erstens, schienendie Mdchen( ) allgemein bestrebtzu


...
sein,ihre Krper uerlichintakt zu lassen;siewhlendaher
die orale Vergiftung. Dabei bestehtallgemeineine hhere
Chance,dader Suizidentgefundenwird, da es einelngere
Zeit dauert, bis der Tod eintritt.

( )
...

Gerade fr

demonstmtiveSuizidversuchescheint die Medikamentenintoxikation geeignetzu sein. Man darf aber aus dieser
Tatsache nicht den Schlu ziehen, Suizidversuchemit
30)
(p.
toxischenSubstanzen
ernst
nehmen.
zu
seiennicht

12

Suicide in Adolescence,ed. by Ren6 Diekstra and Keith Hawton (Dordrecht:


Nijhoff, 1987),p. 60.

331
13

Schneidman,p. 215.

14

Erwin Stengel,Suicideand AttemptedSuicide(Harmondsworth:Penguin, 1964),


p. 39.

15

Katja's mother had wanted to kill herself during her imprisonment in RavensbrOck

by waWng into an electric fence. A friend preventedher from doing so by


in
is
her
herself.
It
the
that
think
not
mentioned
reminding
of
she should not
if
narrative Katja is aware of this.

16

We already saw the effect suchan upbringing had on Paula in Paulinchen war allein

Katja's
behave
Haus
her
to
the
motheralso
as
an
adult.
where
zu
parentswanted
expectsher daughterto copewith distresson her own.

17

At the turn of the century a number of Germanworks were publishedwhich


highlightedthe pressuresschool,especiallyboarding-school,exertedon pupils and
the fact that many children could not endurethe demandsof the teachers. They
include: HermannHesse'sUntennRad (1905),Robert Musills Die Verwirrungen
desZglingsTrle(1906)andFrank Wedekind'splay Fn2hlingsErwachen. Eine
Kindertrag6die(1891).

18

Schneidman,p. 133.

332
19

Ironically, Rosemarie's own daughter left home to live with a man who drove her

to drink and who left her for anotherwoman.

20

As wasshownin Paulinchenwar allein zu Haus the daughter'sdesirefor a mother


who treats her as a child is expressedby Paula. She also commentson the fact that
the Bechstein family is a 'proper' family becauseof the cosinessand security she

encountersthere.

21

In a letter Katja wrote during her honeymoonto her only female friend, Annemarie,

sheadmittedthat the camaraderieof the Ravensbrflckwomendid offer a senseof


security and an overwhelming amount of affection. Her original negative attitude

alteredas shegrew older.

22

After his wife's deathUwe repeatsthe fact that he did marry Katja for ulterior
motivesbut that he also grew to love her.

23

The motherdiscoversafter her daughter'sdeaththat Anna had providedKatja and


Uwe with the financialbackingfor the car repair business.

24

This is also the first time that a motheris portrayedas bringing up her daughter
has
her
daughters
In
there
completelyon
own.
previousportrayalsof mothersand
beena fatherpresentat somestagein the child's upbringing,however,he is usually
in the backgroundand doesnot play a significantrole in theseworks which focus
on the relationshipsbetweenmothersand daughters.

333
25

On the one occasionthat Irene is smackedby Herr Pirkner for playing on the
railway track and nearly gettingrun over, her motherreactsangrily towardsthis
interference
suitor's
andpunishmentof her daughter:"SchldgehabennochNIE ein
Kind gebessert"(Z.F. 37). In contrastto Christa'sand Kurt's belief that a child
should not be punished (Paulinchen war allein zu Haus), Irene is brought up by a
very loving mother whose reason for not punishing is based on care and

understanding.

26

It is somewhatironic that Irene's motherwarnsher aboutliving in a fantasyworld,


it is almost a premonition on the mother's part: "Der Fall nachher ist umso tiefer"
(Z. F. 177).

27

Seepages326-327for the socialimplicationsof being a Protestantin Austria.

28

This is reminiscentof Katja's questioningof the role of God, when sheseespeople


dying aroundher in the cancerward. Seepages294-295.

29

becomesincreasinglydifficult becauseIrene
Living up to her mother'sexpectations
is developingher own point-of-viewandthe environmentat schoolis not conducive
of love and goodness.

30

This ideais madeapparentwhenIreneis summonedto the headmaster


of whomshe
is terrified. Her motherhadwritten a letter to him, requestingthat he shouldshow
her daughtersomeunderstanding
by
her
Annoyed
the
andappreciate circumstances.

334
interference
the headmaster
accusesIrene of being spoilt and threatensto
mother's
if
her
to
scholarship anothergirl, the motheris not satisfiedwith her daughter's
give
is
immediate
loss
fear
by
her
Irene's
of speechand the
manifested
education.
knows,
holds
feels.
her
In
that
to
the
she
she
one
word,
coldnessshe
anxiety
on
embodiescomfort, securityand warmth:

Mama, sagtes in mir drin immer wieder. Mama. Mama.


Mama.

Nichts anderes, ich wei nicht wie lange.

Niemand soll mich trennen von dem Wort MAMA,

()
das

ich
da
ist
in
ist.
Es
mich an
wichtig,
ununterbrochen mir
diesesWort klammere, sehr wichtig. (Z. F. 187-188)

This passagealso points to the end of the narrative where the last words are

'Mama'.

31

Role-reversalwas also evidentin KartenhausandAusflugmit der Mutter.

32

Rosemarie,in fact, drawsthe mother'sattentionto Katja's admirationof her: "Sie


hngtnicht nur an dir, sie bewundertdich" (K. 37).

33

Whilst in RavensbrackFini had organisedplays and concertsand afterwardsshe


the
in
life
in
tours
around
the
on
concert
song,
and
went
captured
camp word and
GDR and abroad. This was her fight againstFascism.

335
34

Stephanis also awareof the conflict betweenfeeling and reason:"Zwischendem,


dem,
Unterschiede"
empfindet,
man
gibt
es
manchmal
was
was man sagt,und
(K. 40). He, too, learnt to surpressemotionsin order to survive.

35

In Ausflug mit der Mutter the narrator seesherself as the teacherand her mother as

the pupil.

36

by
had
been
He
depression.
is
There a factual explanation for Stephan's
arrested
had
he
in
Siberia
mainly
1937
suffered,
Nazis
also
to
the
transported
where
and

becausehe could not bear the thoughtthat he would be suspectedof being an


informer.

37

It was notedin Paulinchenwar allein zu Haus that Paulaliked to write aboutthe


feeling of being homesick.

38

das
brauche
her
diary:
"Ich
There is a later referenceto Irene's dependence
on
Tagebuch wirklich dringend" (Z. F. 164). In Vie SecondSex Beauvoir comments

diary
like
to
fact
kept
Marie
Bashkirtsev
to
talked
that
the
used
she
a
she
which
on
talk to her dolls. The diary "is a friend andconfidante;shequestionsit as if it were
a person".
Simonede Beauvoir, 7le SexondSex, trans. and ed. by H. M. Parshley
(Harmondsworth:Penguin,1979),p. 363.

336
39

This is reminiscentof the daughterin Novak'sDie Eisheiligenwho longsto escape


to farawayplaceswherethe seasymbolisesfreedom.

40

In Die EishelligenKaltesophiedestroysher daughter'spoemsby burning them.

41

The verse is one example of Heinrich Heine's earliest poetry known as the "Junge

Leiden" andwritten during theperiod 1817-1821andlater includedin his Buchder


Lieder.

The poem was originally dedicated to Heine's schoolfriend, Gustav

Friedrich von Untzer, who was badly wounded in the Battle of Waterloo.

42

Diekstra, p. 70. At the start of the funeral Fini contemplatesher guilt: "Bin ich

ich
bin"
ich
da
Niemand
es
aber
wei,
schuldig?
wird mich schuldigsprechen,
(K. 7).

43

(London:Hutchinson,1984),p. 31.
BeverleyRaphael,Vie AnatomyofBereavement

44

Gnter Hhne, Tatja von Hedda Zinner', Sonntag (27), 6 July 1980.

45

Quoted in Gene Lester, David Lester, Suicide: 7he Gamble'with Death (New
Jersey:Prentice-Hall,1971),p. 38.

46

Like Irene's mother,theseparentscanbe accusedof creatingtheir own world: "Sie


ihrer
ist,
die
Meinungnachzu sein
Wirklichkeit
sondem
sie
wie
sehen
nicht, wie sie
hat" (K. 85).

337
47

It is worth noting that Katja's mother uses her connectionsto obtain and furnish a
flat for Katja and Uwe. She also rings up the director of the drama school to ask

him not to be too hard on Katja whenhe turns down her application. Yet Stephan
for
licence.
definitely
his
business
the
to
exploit
contacts
refusesquite

48

Uwe must have talked about Katja to his girlfriend becauseshe had the same
impressionof Katja with regardto her attitudeto life. To Katja's mothershesays
of Katja:

"Im Grunde war sie ja ein armes Luder.

Ein bichen

da
Hause
Sie
scheint
zu
etwas
schon,
verrckt, entschuldigen

nicht gestimmt zu haben.

Sie hatte so verdrehte

Vorstellungenvom Leben." (K. 128)

49

Hans Jrgen Geerdts, 'Nachdenkenprovozierend. Hedda Zinner: KaUa', Neue


deutscheLiteratur, 10 (Oetober,1980), 124-127(p. 126).

50

Margy Gerber, Vie hochist eigentlichder Preisder Emanzipation?SocialIssues


in RecentGDR Women'sWriting', GDRMonitor, 16 (1986-87),55-83 (p. 71).

51

Irene D611ing,'BetweenHope and Helplessness.Women in the GDR and the


"Turning Point"', FeministReview,39 (Winter 1991),3-15 (p. 10).

338
52

Sigrid Weigel, 'OvercomingAbsence:ContemporaryGermanWomen'sLiterature


(Part 2), New GennanCritique, 32 (1984),3-22 (p. 7).

53

Towardsthe end of the narrativeIrene mentionsthat sheandher motherhavehad


Austrian citizenship for a year.

54

Irene will neverbe an 'ordinary' girl becauseof the way in which her motherhas
her.
She is taught to read by her mother at the age of three and a half and
raised

for her fourth birthdayshereceivesa library membershipcard. Sheis not yet fourfor the first time. Thus, from an early age
years-oldwhensheattendsIcindergarten
this daughter'smentalagility and maturityare evident,but, as hasbeenillustrated,
on an emotionallevel she has not advancedso quickly and cannot handle the
in
situation which shefinds herself.

339
CHAPTER FIVE: NARRATIVE STRATEGIES

Hitherto we haveconcentrated
on whatis relevantto the studyof themeandcharactersince
that is the focusof this thesis. Nevertheless,we are featuringthe portrayalof daughterjust
by
that
so
should
not
analysewhat the writer
parentrelationships womenwriters,
we
says, but how she says this. Thus, in this chapter we shall see in what way each writer

looking
different
daughter
by
her
the
the
at
narrative
and
portrays
parents
presents
and
levels, the framework and chronology of each work. It will also be worth considering
is
be
It
the
to
stressed,
purpose.
writer's method of portrayal servesa particular
whether
though, that such an analysisis not the primary concern of this study as a whole, henceany

is,
be
to what
that
the
contextof subjectmatter,
commentsmadewill still
placedwithin
extentthe narrativestrategiessupportthe content.
One of the first problemswe encounterwhen we read any one of theseten novels
daughter,
is
for
between
the
the
the
the
narrator,
and
writer,
analysis
selected
relationship
,
that
is
by
first
third
we are
so
the
the
and/or
person,
person
complicated
which
use of
frequentlyleft wonderingaboutwhosevoice is actuallyheardin the text: canthe writer be
identified in her own right, is the narrator speakingon her behalf or is the female
later,
herself?
As
there are a
her
thoughts,
see
shall
we
of
protagonista projection of
is
it
that
for
necessary,
numberof possiblereasons the writer's choiceof perspective,so
in the first instance,to recognisethe complexityof eachnarrativebeforewe canappreciate
its purpose. However, irrespectiveof whetherthe writer usesthe first personor third
in
is
daughter,
in
books,
Zinner's
Katja,
the
the
and even
narrator
person, all the
except
Kada we do hear the daughter'sopinionsand thoughtsexpressedby other peopleand in
letters. Commonto all theseworks, then, is the fact that we are well acquaintedwith the

340

thoughtsof the daughter, to what degreeis dependentupon the way in which thesethoughts

are presented.
Whenwe comparethe narratorsof eachof thebooksit becomesapparentthat six of the
ten works are written in the first person,whilst the remainderare a mixtureof first person
and third person. Within that group of six only two narrators are given names, Fini

KomarsldandIrene, andthe I-form is used. As in all thesefirst-personnarratives,andas


in
in
is
biased.
For
therefore
the
"ample, Katja
pointedout previouschapters, perspective
the mother is the narrator who reflects on her relationship with her daughter, using the I-

form. Sincethe motherblamesherself for Katja's tragic action, it would be all too easy
for us to seeher alsoas responsiblefor the deathandignoreall the other factors,because
does.
But,
is
know
the
thinldng
as mentioned
as
she
mother
events
what
and
perceives
we
by
includes
in
book
Zinner
meansof
this
the
other
characters
of,
perspective
earlier,
from
letters
funeral
that
the
abandoningall
are
prevented
and
we
conversations,
orationso
objectivity.
This is not the casein Zwn FensterhinauswhereIrene is the I-narratorthroughwhose
in
book,
is
this
Hers
the
the
so that we grow up with
only perspective
eyeswe see world.
her, learnwhat shelearns,interpretlife as shedoes,experienceher anxietiesandin the end
jump out of the window with her. As we shall see,whenwe look morecloselyat the style,
the languagealso reflectsthe child's perspective. Similarly, in Die Eishelligen,we grow
daughter's
that
because
the
so
the
the
perspective,
young
writer presents
narrator
up with
development
first
hand
the
of a child's mind.
and
emergence
onceagainwe experienceat
StructurallY,though, Novak has incorporatedin her work not just the thoughtsof the Inarrator, but also dialogues,reports, impressions,descriptions,poetry so that the overall

341

interior
in
is
hence
from
becoming
the
are
prevented
of
a
collage,
we
absorbed
effect one
monologue of the narrator, even though the first person is used.

The perspectiveof the child is also evidentin Wohmann'sPaulinchenwar allein zu


Hauswherethereis first-personnarrationby the mainprotagonist,Paula. However,at the
in
her
life
Paula's
the
tells
the
time
writer
story of
adoptive parents the third
same
with
fact
first
daughter
'das
that
Kind',
the
to
this
of all emphasises
which
as
person and refers

in
because,
forget
is
this
this a child and we as readersshouldnot
as pointed out our
from
for
her
in
is
book
Chapter
Three,
Paula
that
this
age so
extremely mature
analysis of
the language used we might think that the first-person narrator is an adult; secondly, the

fact that the writer doesnot call the daughterby her namesuggeststhat shewantsus to see
'das
Kind'
thirdly,
the
her protagonistas possiblyrepresentative
of
use
and
child;
any
of
is imitative of the theoretical books on child-raising to which the portrayed parents
bring
is
book
how
to
Hence
that
this
up
not
a
on
our earlier conclusion
constantlyrefer.
between
the
The
text
third-person
conversations
this
and
narration
alternates
children.
betweenChrista and Kurt and-with their friends, so that the perspectivecontinually

fluctuates.
In Ausflugmit der Mutter Wohmannagaincombinesfirst-personnarrationwith that of
frequently
herself
because
be
The
I-narrator
the
she
third-person.
writer
appearsto
interruptsthe portrayal of the motherby commentingon and criticising her own writing.
This narrativelevel is further complicatedby the fact that there are two time phases:the
four
has
months
written
writer refers to the time of narrationand she reviews what she

earlier:

342

Ich bleibe in Seiten stecken, die ich vor ungefhr vier


habe. Die Beschreibungen
Monatengeschrieben
von damals
wirken steif, wie unaufgetaut.(... ) Auf der erstenSeitebin
ich doch fast zynisch gewesenvor Angst (

...

). (A. M. 70-71)

Using the I-form the writer explains the problems she faces in portraying her own mother,

at the sametime sheusesthe archetypallabelsof 'die Mutter' and 'die Tochter' to describe
the relationship between these two women in the third person. By creating these fictional
figures the writer fictionalises herself as well as her mother. For the writer this is a way

it
be
for
detaching
herself
from
the
the
as
can
subject-matter; us readers
of
closenessof
confusingbecauseonceagaintheperspectiveis constantlyshiffingbetweenfirst-personand
third-personnarration;movementbackandforwardsbetweenthepastandpresent,between
is
imagined.
What
took
certain,
were
and
conversations
which
events
which
placeandones
though, is that the writer is presentin this particular work, in spite of the fact that the
By
is
I
Moreover,
the
also
remain
anonymous.
protagonists
never named.
narrating
keepingthemanonymoussheshroudsher work in ambiguity,at the sametime sheprotects
her own right andher mother'sto privacy, whilst her protagonistsbehaveandactaccording
to her will, her thoughtsandher feelings. The writer s self-criticismandreflectionson the
in
(1972),
Wunschloses
Unglack
Peter
Handke's
which
writing processare reminiscentof
theI-narrator'sdepictionof his mother'slife andsuicideis interspersedwith thoughtsabout
the problemsof writing about a subject,which is from his own life and close to him,
'
into
fear
it
the
transferring
this
was already
subject
something
else.
combinedwith
of
belief
that,
in
fear
Chapter
Two
the
Wohmann
that
as
a
similar
noted
as
well
expresses
indicative
is
fictionalises
her
her
of
though
even
she
mother,the very act of writing about

343

the bond betweenwriter and protagonist,here the daughterand mother. From the
standpointof the narrative,we encounterthe perspectiveof the writer in her professional
in
daughter.
her
as
as
a
role as well
role
In contrast,thereis no intrusionby the writer in Mitgutsch'sDie Zachtigung,although
there is a combination of first-person and third-person narration. We are first introduced
to the I-narrator who is given a fictional name, Vera. The third-person narration by an

has
Marie.
Once
this
the
the
story
mother,
externalvoice concerns childhoodof
narrator's
been told the rest of the narrative is in the first person becausethis comprisesthe narrator's

her
level
her
andon
mother
one
on
of
with
own
recollections
upbringingand relationship
anotherlevel she describesher own child's upbringingand present-dayrelationshipwith
her. The complexityof narrativelevelsas indicatedby the presenceof different voicesis
highlightedin Plessen'sMitteilung an denAdel. The protagonistof this book is Augusta
(whichalsohappensto be oneof Plessen'sgivennames),her life andrelationshipwith her
father is told in the third person. But, as is becomingincreasinglyapparentin this study
into
deceived
be
that
this
thinking
the
should
not
strategies
we
narrative
of
of eachwriter,
for
instance,
If
is
take,
third-person
narrative. we
story a straightforward,unambiguous,
it
is
the
following
the
narrative,
the
start of
excerptwhich occursseventeenpagesafter
impossiblefor the readerto attribute the words in parentheses
either to the thoughtsof
Augustaor to the third-personnarrator: "Augustaschwor, sie habein ihrem Leben nie
is
22).
This
A.
the
ist)"
(M.
Lge
Form
(was
in
dieser
Brei
eine
gegessen
absoluten
wieder
first indicationwe havethat theremaybe anotherperspectivein this work, as indicatedby
later
few
A
pages
time
the use of presenttensewhich alludesto the actual
of writing.
Augustais holding "Selbstgesprdche"
(M. A. 37): here the useof the first personas well
is
the writer
this
to
that
as the use of the presenttenseallude once more the possibility

344

believe
is
led
to
that
this
though
the fictional charactertalking to herself.
are
speaking,
we
In this samepassagethe word "Pause"occursa numberof timesin brackets,as if theseare
in
in
indicating
breaks
"Pause"
directions
This
the
the
thought
of
a
process.
use
play,
stage
in which Augustathinks of her boyfriend, Felix, and
is alwaysconnectedto the passages
hesitancy
We
the
their
the
and
play-acting.
are also
uncertainty
of
relationship,
underlines

literary
this
of
an
external
presence,
account
of
notation:
merely
on
madeaware

Gibt es eine Utopie in der Liebe? (Pause) Sag nicht nein,


Felix. (Pause) Selbstgesprche,wo du laut mit dir redest,

ich sagst,du sagstund da sitzt und flennst. KaputtePlne,


(
)
Vielleicht
Plne.
Plne,
neue
als ginge es nicht ohne
...

bin ich schonglcklich,von Herzen, mit Schmerzen,klein


dich
gibt. (Pause)
wenig und gar nicht glcklich, weil es
Weit weg. Wie httestdu dich loseisensollen. (Pause)Wie
httest du loskommen sollen aus dem Bro.

(Pause)

(M. A. pp. 77-78)

Another narrative level is introducedwhen lengthy excerptsfrom C.A. 's diary are
describing
Augusta
halfway
book.
the
through
and analysing
sets
about
presentednearly
Thus
interpret
just
Plessen's
diary,
form
the
the
work.
readermight
the
as
and contentof
"ein
herself
to
book
book,
the
as
refers
protagonist
the writer presentsa
which
within a
An
bloes
Gestndnis.
Tagebuch,
Ding,
Buch
einen
noch
noch
weder
merkwrdiges
fictitious
is
104).
'diary'
)"
In
(
(M.
A.
this
there
a
Romanversucherinnerte es ...
in
the
by
Lieutenant
Becker,
narrator
are
whose
related
external
activities
an
protagonist,

345

inserts
his
C.
A.,
On
Occasionally,
the
tense.
comments.
readingthe
author,
own
present
'diary' Augusta, the critic, makes the following observation which to a certain extent is

format:
Plessen's
to
own narrative
annficable
j1K

Das Tagebuchkonzeptwar allerdings gestrt: Es bestandnicht


aus Aufzeichnungendes OberleutnantsBecker, sonderneines

der
diesen
Erzhlers,
zweiten, eines unpersnlichen
beobachtetzu haben schien. Die Konzeption hatte sich nicht

lckenlos durchhalten lassen; in Momenten grerer


Anteilnahmewar es C.A. passiert,da er den Oberleutnant
ins
Spiel
den
fallengelassen
Erzhler
selber
und sich
oder
gebrachthatte. (M. A. 104)

Even more revealingfor the readeris Augusta'sunderstandingof her father's use of a


fictitious characterin order to createobjectivity:

Ich kann es verstehen,ich meine: als Trick. Du wolltest dich

Man
kann
dir
distanzieren.
Das
wird sich
man
machen.
von
berjeden anderenleichterklar als ber sich selbst,aberder
Trick erleichtertees dir auch, dich zu drcken, in dieses
Offiziergeredezu flchten, ( ). (M. A. 132)
...

her
behind
is
is
is
The implication that Plessen herself telling us that she the voice
because
herself
distance
from
Augusta,
which shecan
who presentsmemories
character,

346

they becomefictionalised. The story of Becker occupiesapproximatelyforty pagesof


Plessen'stext and is interspersedwith questionsAugusta posesto herself, or possibly these

from
in
brackets.
Apart
for
are meant us, aswell as critical comments,all of which occur
betweenAugustaand
the presentationof this story, thereare alsoimaginaryconversations
her father in which she tries to delve deeper into his reason for writing the diary and for
it
her.
brief
discussions
These
"Anldufe",
to
as they are referred to and
or
presenting

does
by
Augusta,
interrupt
in
the
the
to
the
text,
as
analysis
actual
seven
one
numbered
description in the third person of Augusta's activities during the journey. Hence, as we

havegrown accustomed
to notingin the majority of booksanalysedin this study,the levels
inclusion
intricate
by
in
in
the
of
the
the
more
past and
presentare made
of narration
dialogueand monologueas well as the alternationbetweenreality and imagination. All
theseaspectsmergeto createa highly complextext.
The creationof so many different layers of narration does risk losing the reader's
Vater,
Der
Lange
Abwesenheit
Kartenhaus,
In
the
or
of
work as a whole.
understanding
feelings
to
the
in
first
and
person,we are onceagain privy
all of which are written the
inner thoughtsof eachnarrator. But in noneof theseworks are we expectedto perceive
book
that
the
because
the
of
through
the
is
each
the world
perspective
in
eyes of a child

Schutting's
Schwaiger's
Whilst
her
daughter
and
reminiscing about
upbringing.
adult
The
her
Hanna.
does
Schriber
only
narrator,
name
narrators remain anonymous,
it
being
in
the
in
is
Kartenhaus
I-narrator,
one-sided,
that
the
spite
of
yet
of
perspective
fact,
tone
her
In
during
the
is
overall
reflections.
sentimental
nostalgic
nor
narrator neither
is oneof aloofness,as will becomeclearerwhenwe look in moredetail at the style of this
work.

347

It is possibleto seethe I-narrator of Der Vater in a similar light becausethere is an


absenceof spontaneous
emotions,in spite of the fact that this narrator is mourningthe
father.
death
her
In contrastto Schwaiger'sI-narrator, this daughterstaysvery
of
recent
calm, as if subdued. We

senseno hatred, even though this would have been

understandableconsidering the narrator's description of her father's cruel streak. Unlike


the narrator in Lange Abwesenheit, Schutting's narrator does not reproach her father, so

that theserecollectionscontainno vengeanceor anger. It might well be the casethat the


narrator's detachment, the fact that she does not express grief and appears unmoved, is
comparable to her father's tendency to be indifferent. When we analyse the style of Der
Vater in more detail, it will becomeapparentthat the writer succeedsin creating a distance
betweenher narrator and the subj ect-matter. There are similarities to Wohmann's Ausflug

der
interrupt
Mutter,
does
the narrative flow with her own
the
although
mit
not
writer
commentsnor doessheanalysethe processof writing, instead,as we shall see,it is the
actualoverall presentation,which corroboratesthe narrator'sdetachment.
betweenthenarratorand
As alreadyindicated,thereis no distancein LangeAbwesenheit
the subject-matter. Written in the first person,we experiencefirst-handthe ambivalent
emotionsof this unnamednarratortowardsher father. Thereis no otherperspectivein this
book, yet we might be forgiven for forgettingthis narratoris grieving over the loss of her
fatherbecausethe toneof the narrativeis neithertearful nor sentimental:thereis too much
angerand cynicismon the part of the narrator. There is a dangerthat the veracity of the
narrator's thoughtsis too overwhelmingfor the reader who may dislike, or even be
be
by
frankness
The
to
too
the
truth.
also
offended such
narratormay
which comes close
first-person
for
her
the
through
the
the
regardedas
voice of conscience
writer, who
useof
her
feelingsof guilt.
exPOses
narrator

348

In order for us to be ableto understandthe possiblereasonsfor eachwriter's choiceof


narratorialvoice we alsoneedto appreciatethe way in which shepresentsthe entirework,
in
form
the
textual
since all cases
underpinsher decisionfor opting for the first- and/or
third-personnarrator. This is especiallyevident in Schutting'sDer Vater where the
ambivalent relationship between daughterand father is reflected in the movementbetween

dreamand reality. The fact that the narratoris herselfunsureaboutwhethershedreamt


intensifies
the ambiguousnatureof this work. The narratorfreely usesthe
not
an eventor
family name of Schutting as well as the name of her home town, Amstetten in lower

Austria, in her recollectionsof life with her father,yet no otherpropernamesof peopleand


placesare mentioned;in somecasesthe writer evenmakesa point of omitting the nameof
a placeor a pub by usinga row of dots(V. 58). Initially we are alsostruckby the absence
indicative
is
the
at
possibly
start
of the writer's
of
each
which
of capitalisation
sentence,
uncertaintyof how to expressin writing her emotionsand her responseto bereavement.
Similarly, the writer avoids the use of the finite verb, preferring to use past and present
is
to
that
there
a continuousprocessof thought,with no
particles, which seems suggest
beginningor end, which is further emphasisedby the lack of full stops. This further
father,
her
her
between
distance
the
to
narrator's
and
attempts
oscillation
reflects
understand
long
is
The
to
this
processof thought,where memories
man.
one
whole
work
closeness
are linked by associationandnot by logic and chronology. In manyplacesthe useof the
dashreplacesthe full stop,just asonethoughtleadsto anotherwithout a break. Schutting's
frequently
in
be
long
brackets
as one page,
which the
contain
sentences,which can
as
inserts
it
is
the
another
an asideor an
a
comment
remark
person,
sometimes
narrator
of
or
level
different
be
to the main episode:
time
which
can
a
afterthought
on

349
mein Gott, sagt eine alte Frau, eine Buerin, zu meiner
Mutter, so oft war der Herr bei uns drauen, Hengsten

schneiden,einmal hatteer gleich vier auf der Matte liegen1


(sie ist nicht die einzige, die, offensichtlich bemht, in
angemessener Sprache zu

sprechen, auch dort,

wo

Vergangenes
in die Gegenwartnachwirkt,stattdesvertrauten
Perfektsein Prteritumwhlt). (V. 35)

As illustrated in this excerpt the writer also avoids using inverted commas to introduce

direct speech.The overall lack of traditionalpunctuationis appropriatefor the book since


it emphasisesthe constant digressions of the narrator's thoughts, sometimes there are

completechangesof directionin her thinIdng,other timesan explanationor elaborationis


is
There
presented.
alsoa tendencyto list objectsandpeopleat greatlength, for example,
depicting
inhabitantsof Amstettenwho had someconnectionwith her father
six pagesof
(V. 109-114);sevenpagesco'ncemingher father's faults (V. 137-143);thirteen pages
containingthe narrator's various dreamsabouther father after his funeral (V. 122-135).
It is as if the writer has to exhaustone areaof thoughtbefore shecan presentanother.
In his 1987review of Schutting'sstyleof writing HerbertHermann concludesthat this
is
writer playing with languagein order to forcethe readerto attemptto reconstructthe text
learn
is
to
that
the
teaching
the
andso reachhis/herown understanding
reader
she
work,
of
to readproperly.' In Der Vaterit is a way for the narratorto examineher own past, that
is, the writer's past,her relationshipwith her fatherandher attitudes,without beingdrawn
into the emotionalaspectof the mourningprocess. It shouldnot be overlookedthat in
addition to prose-worksSchuttinghas publishedcollectionsof poemswhich explainsthe

350

poetic quality of this particular book, the absenceof clich6s and the usual, expected
responseof a mournerto grief. Schuttingpresentsa work of art, her 'Trauerarbeit'. As
Herzmannpoints out this writer goesagainstthe expectednorm by not forming sentences
accordingto the way in which a person speaks: "Vielmehr verarbeitetdie Dichterin
Erzhlung, Reflexion und Experiment in uert komprimierte Texte, die in ihrer Intensitt
'
der
Lyrik
nahestehen". He also notes that Schutting originally studied photography
eher

beforehistoryandGermanin Vienna,which maybeexplainsher inclinationtowardsvisual


language. The author herself says of her writing process:

Wennich etwasschreibe,habeich dabeidie Empfindung,als


gbe es das bereits, als legte ich es nur frei, wie man
bermalteFreskenfreilegt, damit andere,die sie noch nicht
gesehenhaben,sie nun auchbetrachtenknnen.

Suchan explanationalludesnot only to the narrativelevels in Der Vater, but also to the
languagewhich is at times lyrical, eventheatrical,as the ending highlights, and as was
already commentedupon in Chapter One.5 The use of metaphorical languageby the writer

befits the Barock monasteryin which the narratorfinds herself.


Whilst the writer illustratesher narrator'sintricate thoughts,memoriesand dreamson

onelevel, on anotherlevel thereis thebanalityof everydayactivity, whichis introduced


by theframeworkof thethreedaysbetween
thefather'sdeathandhis funeralon20thJune,
during which the narratorkeepsherselfbusyby writing the 130addresses
to relativesand
associates
of her fatheron the mourningcards. Sheadvisesher family on how to formulate
the words for the obituary notice in the newspaperand helps with suggestionsfor the

351

funeral oration. She also organisesa wreath and accompaniesher mother to the
funeral
before
Such
thereforecontrastwith the narrator's
a
usual
activities
undertakers.
imaginationand serveto heightenthe reader'sawarenessof the writer's artistry. Apart
from thesethreedaysof activity and reflectionthere is a brief referenceto the narrator's
departure for Vienna and later return. This is followed by a gap of two years; in the last

sevenpagesthe narratorrecallsa visit to her father's former school,having beeninvited


by the abbot to give a readingon the anniversaryof her father's graduation. There is
evidence not only from the content, but also from the language, that the narrator has

better
indirectly
her
longer
him
father:
to
a
understanding
of
she
no
refers
as "er"
reached
him directly as "du", which illustratesa progressiontowardsclosenessand
but addresses
is more in keepingwith a dialoguerather than an account. The suggestionis that a level
has
been
achieved.
of communication
An unusualfeatureof Der Vater, which is nowhereto be found in any of the other
books analysedhere, is the use of black humour in stark contrastto the tragic subject
humour
indicate
It
this
to
to
two
a possiblemethod
examplesof
matter. shouldsuffice cite
of handlinggrief. In both casesthenarratoris ridiculing the seeminglyendlesspreparations
father's
involved
in
her
funeral, at the sametime the
the
as
pomp
and
ceremony
as well
from
is
keep
distance
be
the
to
to
events.
and
a
writer encouraging reader
equallyobjective
Whilst addressingthe envelopesto the variousbutchersand vets who knew her fatherthe
has
died;
father
he
her
let
him
know
to
to
that
narratorconsiderssendinga mourningcard
in
finding
the
the right grave:
the
encounter
problems
postman
would
sheenvisages

Getztwre die letzteGelegenheit,ein Kuvert an denVater zu


adressieren,warum sollte man seinenTod nicht demjenigen

352

mitteilen, der als bald einzigerdavonvielleicht nichts wei?


Brieftrger, der, die Namenstafelnberfliegend,die Grber
abluft, weil auf dem Kuvert Zeile und Platz ohneNummer
gebliebensind) (V. 19)

During the funeralprocessiondaughterandmotherwalk arm in arm behindthe hearse;the


narrator,consciousof breathingin thecar exhaustfumes,thinksthat now at leasther father
have
a peaceful, undisturbed, afternoon nap:
will

()

ich aber atme sie ein, voll Vertrauen auf ihre

umnebelnde Wirkung - in einem so spiegelblank polierten


Auto

und

einem

frischgemachten Bett

findet

der

Nachmittagsschlaf
desVatersstatt, ( ) (V. 159)
...

In contrastto the solemnityand unhappiness


of the subject-mattersuchhumouris striking
father
andunexpectedfor the reader. In comparisonwith other works aboutthe deceased
Schutting'snarrativestrategyandlanguagesucceedin providing a very differentapproach
to the problemof portrayinga private and real relationshipin fiction.
As in Der Vaterthe daughterin Mitteilung an der Adel receivesthe newsof her father's
is
death
from
her
is
It
the
the
telephone
over
phone
sudden
mother.
call which the startof
the story and, like Schutting'snarrator, Augustahas to travel from her workplaceto her
hometownto reachthe destinationof the funeral,but it is thisj ourney andnot theactivities
,
before and after the funeral itself, which providesthe narrativethreadthroughthe book.
The trip takesfour daysandnightsas Augustatravelsfrom Munich to Schleswig-Holstein,

353
from
it
is
interrupted
Augusta
three
times
as
recalls
someone
something
or
significant
and

is a necessarydetourbecauseshehasto pick
her past. Her first port of call, Baden-Baden,
in
do
funeral
decides
is
but
to
the
the
to
event,
not
who,
up an aunt who supposed attend
father
had
been
her
Wiesbaden
Augusta
to
to
the
where
continues
explore
place
so. is
former
G6ttingen
Her
the
the
of
at
end
war.
penultimate
stop
she
a
where
visits
stationed
friend.
student

Sometimes it is the place, sometimes a person, that triggers off this

daughter'smemories. Throughoutthe narrativewe are madeawareof the progressionof


the journey via the motorway signs with the city nameswritten in capital letters in the text.

As the numberof Idlometresdecrease,theconclusionandthe climax of thejourney andthe


narrativeapproach.
The book is divided into four chapters: "Unter dem Glassturz", "Post Festum",
"Lokaltermine" and "Im Kaleidoskop", These titles, as mentionedearlier, do not
fact
format
does
four
days
journey.
The
that
this
the
to
the
not correlate
of
correspond
hand,
for
is,
but
hand,
the
the
the
the
other
reader,
on
chronology on
one
confusing
with
it is anothermethodon the part of the writer to createdistancebetweenherself and the
disrupt
Within
the
the
there
additional
segments
which
are
chapters
subject-matter.
"EtagenstOck",
"TreppenstOck",
"TraumstOck",
coherence,
as
such
chronological

"Parterrestfick"in the first chapter; numbered"Anldufe" in the secondchapter; and


As
in
"Versuche"
"TraumstOcke"
the
well as
penultimatechapter.
and more
numbered
in
imagined
intrusions
interweaves
formal
the
these
real and
conversations, the past
writer
includes
interior
the
the
and
present,
with
monologue
an external voice whose
and
Mittellung
but
Thus
an
the
structureof
commentsare sometimes, not always,announced.
den Adel provesto be as complexand ambiguousas the combinationof first-personand
third-personnarration. The writer needsto createa distancebetweenherself and her

354

protagonistso that shecan voice her criticism of her father and societythroughAugusta.
By meansof ambiguityPlessendoessucceedin distancingherselffrom the intimacyof the
subject-matter,so that, as in Der Vater, the reflectionsof the daughterare unsentimental,
but here criticism of the father and everythinghe representsdominatesthe tone of the

naffative.
In LangeAbwesenheitobjectivecriticism has turnedinto subjectiveangeraimedat the
deceasedfather. The narrativebeginsand endswith the narrator standingat her father's
grave. The text however is constructedin such a way that there is no temporal or formal

sequence
of events,nor is thereany obvious,rationallink betweenthe variousthoughtsof
the narrator and her reflections on her relationshipwith her father and with Birer.
Nevertheless,almosta third of the way throughthe book the writer doesfocus solely on
the relationshipbetweenthe narrator and Birer for twenty-two pages,which is quite a
significantportion consideringthat the book is only eighty-twopageslong, and therefore
the shortestof all the booksin this study. Furthermore,eventhe actualprint of this text
is larger andbolderthanis usual,but as would be expectedin a children'sbook. The idea
behind this choiceof print may be that the readershouldnot overlook any single word,
sinceeachword is vital andrelevantto the story, especiallywhenthereare very few words
in the book as a whole. Thus, visually the printed word makesan impact on the reader,
irrespectiveof content. This is also achievedby the uncomplicatedsentencestructure,so
that the simplicity of structureandstyle aswell as the clarity of languagemay well suggest
the writer's openness
andapparenthonesty.LangeAbwesenheltis a personalaccountbased
her feelingswhich couldimply that
very muchon emotions.The narratoropenlyexpresses
the writer is malcingno effort to diguiseher own thoughts. This is evidentfrom the fact
that she uses no experimentallanguage,as Schutting does-,nor does she interweave

355
narrative levels with different narrators, as Plessen does. Hence, there is no attempt to

between
distance
the I-narrator and the emotionally-ladencontent.
and
objectivity
create
Fluctuationbetweenthe past and the presentdoesoccur but this is not always signalled
becausethe writer tendsto use the presenttenseto make the impact of the past more
immediate. Thus, although the narrator is at her father's gravesideat the start of the story,

his
deathbed
in
from
depicted
the presenttenseand thesescenesalternatewith
are
scenes
in
flat,
in
family
home
Birer's
the
so that the overall effect
conversations
and
and
events
imitates the natural oscillation of any person's processof reflection.
Another work, written for the most part in the present tense, occasionally in the perfect

tense, thereby emphasisingthe immediacyof the narrator's thoughtsand reducing the


distancebetweenthe narratorand the reader,is Wohmann'sAusflug mit der Mutter. As
in LangeAbwesenheit,the samescene,that of the narrator and her husbandleaving her
in
between
The
time
thesetwo
the
scale
a
opens
visit,
and
closes
narrative.
after
mother
scenesis approximatelyone year, althoughwe are only madeawareof this towardsthe
in
it
is
because,
is
book.
The
that
the
as
not
very
apparent
chronology such
very end of
illustrate
juxtaposes
the associativenatureof the
the
writer
scenes,which
other works,
'
first
in
The
tense
thoughts.
the
the
and
combined
present
and
use
of
narration
narrator's
third personillustratesa lack of distinctionbetweenthe pastand the present,as we noted
in Schutting'sDer Vater. Thereis also the suggestionthat the writer wishesto producea
her
in
is
is
has
the
of
since
she
written
critical
analysingwhat she
past and
work of art,
own work:

Schauenwir uns dieses Bild doch ohne ein wieder nur


verallgemeinerndesGeblinzel an.

Lassen wir uns doch

356
grndlich auf den ganzen Inhalt dieser Augenblicke nach
unserem Abschied ein. Reden vir uns doch nicht raus mit

Einsamkeiten.Diese
anderen,mglichstschwerwiegenderen
hier zuerst geht dich an. Sie zuerst und allein ist deine
schwerwiegendste. (A. M. 9)

The above quotationshowsthe way in which the writer incorporatescriticism of her


depictedscenesin this work, andthe fact that sheinvitesthe readerto takea stepbackand
analysethe scene,as if she were rewinding a film and pausingto capturea particular
moment on screen, or expecting the actors to rehearsea sceneon stagein order to correct
any mistakes: "Unsere Bewegung WINKEN ist fast theaterhaft knstlich" (A. M. 9).

Capitalisationof certainwordsthroughoutthe book is not a sign of emphasisbut proof of


7

thesewords being factual. Hencethe writer presentsa postcardfrom the motherto her
in
children all capitalsin her text to demonstrate
visually that thesewords were actually
61-62).
Shealso avoids speechmarks to
(A.
M.
the
written words on
mother'spostcard
signala conversation,so that the readerhas to concentratein order to be able to identify
different voices, as is the casein the following excerptin which the mother'stwo sisters
discussher healthin the presenceof the narratorand her mother:

Du siehstja, sptertagsberist die Mutter oft vergngt,und


abendsgeht es ihr sowieso immer viel besser, eigentlich
richfig gut.
Die Mutter gibt der Tante schchternrecht, blickt aber die
Tochter weiter hilfesuchendan.

357
Die ltere Tante nennt Medikamente DROGEN. ()

Immergleichzum Arzt gehen,wasist damit gewonnen7Das


(A.
hysterisch
M. 41)
machtnur
und verngstigt.

Quotation marks do occur whenever the writer-cum-narrator refers back to and analyses
indicated
had
framework
her
As
the
material
she
earlier,
written
about
mother.
previous

is
from
her
by
departure
daughter's
the
this
motherafter a visit which
provided
of
narrative
first
the
anniversaryof her father's death. The narrative comprisesa series
commemorated
of trips, "AusflOge", undertakenby both the mother and the daughter, together and apart:
the mother's regular weekend visits to her two sisters; their holiday in the Black Forest;

in
holiday
Swiss
hairdressers;
the
the
to
the
and
narrator's
walks;
shopping-trips
a visit
Alps; a visit to the zoo; the variousvisits of her andher husbandto her motheron special
Eve.
Such
her
New
Year's
53rd
everyday,
and
such
as
weddinganniversary
occasions,
by
interspersed
normaleventsare
with critical comments the narratorialvoice, reflections
dialogue,
the
all of which
the
reader
and
past, characterassessment,
collusion with
on
by
is
distinct
However,
differentation.
there
someattempt the writer
mergewithout any
to form 'chapters', not by numberingor headings,but by the use of three asterisksto
indicatea gapbetweenoneepisodeandthe next. Theseepisodes,twenty-onein total, vary
in length, the longestis fifteen pages,the shortesttwo pages,and reflect the relevancethe
highlights
longest
the narrator's
their
the
episode
which
places
on
content,
such
as
writer
is
her
Karlsruhe.
Nevertheless,
during
trip
there
to
constant
psychologicalconflict
fantasy
fact
that
took
trip
are often
not,
so
and
ambiguity about whether a
place or
indistinguishable.It doesseemto be a commonfeatureof all thesewriters to combinethe
fact
imaginary,
is
due
the
to
the
that one's memorycan play tricks
partly
real and
which

358

is
her
because
the
employing
creativesldlls. It may well be a possible
writer
and partly
ploy on the part of the writer, not only to protectthe authenticityof her work, but alsoto
indicated
his/her
behaviour,
by
the
the
to
attitudes
own
and
as
encourage reader question
within Ausflugmit der Mutter.
naffator's self-questioning
This aspectof self-questioningby the narrator comesto the fore in Zwn Fenster hinaus
in
where a number of Paragraphstowards the close of the narrative the narrator posesone

in
her
thoughtsand remain unanswered. The
after
another,
all
of
which
are
question
following excerpt, which contains just a few of a total of twenty-five questions in one
impress
illustrates
determination
to
the
the
upon the reader the
writer
paragraph,
of

anxietiesof the narrator:

Warum berschlgtsich immer alles? Warum entziehtsich


Spur
ich
Gedanke,
auf
seiner
gerade
zu
mir ein
wenn glaube,
sein? Warum habe ich so viele unwichtige Gedanken?
Warum kann ich nicht lernenzu denken,whrendich meine
tgliche Arbeit tue? Richtig denken, meine ich. Warum
macheich mir berhauptso viele Gedanken?Warum nehme
ich alles so schwer? Was kann ich denn schon ndern?
(Z.F. 163)

As explainedwhen we looked at the perspectiveof this work, the narratoris a younggirl


is
despite
this
the
there
no naIvety
perspective
of a child
readergrows up, yet
with whom
in
in
language
or the structureof this narrative. At the start of this work
either choiceof
there can be no hint or premonitionof the narrator's eventualsuicidal act becausethe

359

is
in
develop
knowledge
to
only
allowed
conjunctionwith the narrator's
of events
reader's
thoughtsanddeedsas theyhappen.For this reasonHaideggerhaswritten the entirework,
lives
dies
in
few
just
tense:
the
the
and
with the narrator.
present
reader
exceptions,
a
with
During this narrativethereare remindersof Irene's youngage:just as a child learnsa new
in
its
"Bibissi"
(BBC),
by
times
the
text:
sound,
some
words
are
at
misspelt
word
"Proteese" (Prothese). Such words are usually ones which Irene has overheard when

listeningin on other people'sconversations.Capitalisationof words - normally a single


by
is
Capitalised
the
writer.
rarely
a
complete
used
words
phrase
selectively
word, very
-

in this narrativesuggestthat they are either new words for Irene or that the writer wants
to stresscertainwords. Sometimesthe child appearsto be imitating someoneelse's tone
in
the
to
or
she
words
which
gain
significance;
of
voice
pays
particular
attention
pitch
and
'
49).
hat
(Z.
F.
Sie
VATER"
hat
"Christa
einen
es sch6n.
writer signalsthis to the reader:
Suchstylistic techniqueson the part of the writer are necessaryin this book becausethey
for
be
learning
It
too
to
the
easy
otherwise us as readers
processof a child. would all
point
to overlook the fact that the inner thoughtsand perceptionof this narrator are thoseof a
from
daughter
handling
her
in
is
indicated
the
it
As
the
mother's
of
earlier analysis,
child.
into
her
forces
the
teaches
to
which
child
early maturity.
read
speak,
andwrite
momentshe
For the writer it is her solutionto presentinga narratorwho is a child, yet whoseadultness
is part of her characterand, therefore,very convenientfor the narrativeflow. On the one
handthis narratorbehaveslike a child, on the other handsheperceivesthe world like an
in
Paulinchen
Haus,
distinct
Paula
There
to
whose
war
zu
allein
are
parallels
adult.
But
is
her
defend
Paula
has
her
had
by
that
to
creation.
artistic
stressing
creator
maturity
is
Haidegger's
is
for
that the entire narrative
troubling
the
reader
work
of
more
what
just
I-narrator,
the
that
the
reader
one
perspective,
of
young
whose
perception
of
consists

360

has to acceptso as to understandher suicide. In order to makethis perceptionplausible


andacceptablethe writer incorporatesinto her work a greatdealof simple,realisticdetails
in
life
post-warAustria, suchas the narrator'sreactionto her first tasteof
abouteveryday
chocolate:

Es sahkomischausundich hattegleichbrauneFingerdavon.
Mama sagte,das wre sund zum Essen. ( ) Aber ich
...
mochte die Schokoladenicht und habe sie ausgespuckt,weil

ich sowasnicht kannte. Mama war sehr traurig, weil der


Mann es GUT GEMEINT hatte und weil Schokolade
KOSTBAR ist, aber ich mochte sie trotzdem nicht. (Z. F. 24)

The historicaldetails,suchas the freeingof concentrationcampprisoners,the presenceof


American soldiers,all contributeto the realism of the setting of this narrative, yet are
is
imitated
by
innocent
by
This
the uncomplicatedsentence
a
child
with
clarity.
perceived
fact
linked
by
by
the
that
temporal
either
referencesor
variousepisodesare
structureand
logical, thematic associations. We face no problems in following the sequenceof events.

It hasto be pointedout, though,that the amountof detail as well as the depthof this young
indirectly,
do,
felt.
the
the
thoughts
of
make
writer
presence
girl's
This is very muchthe casein Die Eishelligen. In the first place, the perspectiveof the
is
historical
includes
I-narrator
the
the
and
secondly,
not
perspective,
only
writer
young
informationandfactsas if quotedfrom the original sourceandclearly not as perceivedby
the naffator:

361

Der Affenbrotbaumoder Baobabist ein Charakterbaumder


des inneren Ostafrika. Sein Stamm
weiten Steppengebiete
der
Umfang.
Trockenzeitwirft
In
erreichteinengewaltigen
der Baum die Bltter ab, so da er fnf bis sechsMonate
blattlos dasteht. (E.H. 44)

Suchan excerptis left to standon its own within the text without any clear link to the
follows.
beforehand
As previously mentioned, the structural effect
the
that
or
one
passage
is
disjointed.
The writer
Novak's
the
narrative
very
one
work
of a collage which makes
of

first-person
her
from
in
because
becoming
the
the
narration
of
absorbed
prevents reader
of prosenext to poems,dialoguenext to
methodof composition:the placing of passages
dialect,
language
East
Berlin
the
reportsnext to songs.
of officialdom next-to
monologue,
The variety of narrativeforms and idiomatic expressionsis complementedby the visual
follow
but
do
in
this
the
another
sentences
not
one
work,
some
way which
presentationof
irrespective
length;
line
their
the absenceof
then
the
of
on
one
and
next,
are placed
being
in
Kaltesophie.
learn
the
to
as
passages
of
recognise
words
which we
punctuation
in
The non-grammatical
these
style of
sectionswhich, as Der Vater,includesthe avoidance
indicative
is
flow
letters
the
the
of words
at
of
constant
start
each
sentence,
of
of capital
from the mother's mouth: endlessdemands,ordersand criticisms. The readercan even
hear the screams:

hr auf zu hustenhr auf hr endlich auf zu hustenwozu


habenwir dich eigentlichzur Kur geschickthr aaaauuff
ich halte dasnicht lngerausdu hastdoch gar nichts hr auf

362

zu hustender Arzt hat gesagtdu hast gar nichts ( ... ) jetzt


reichts mir aber gleich setzt es was da dir der Husten
vergeht aber grndlich und fr immer ich kann das nicht
mehrertragen. (E.H. 21)

But in spite of the disjointednessof the structure and style we do not lose our way in this

narrativeon accountof the precisionof the chronology. Each of the twelve chapters,
1939-1951,
the
years
correspondsto one year in the life of this narrator who
spanning
begins her story at the age of four. ' Apart from the last two chapters each chapter closes

during
Christmas
to
wartime and after the war. Thus,
winter
and/or
a
reference
with
frequentreferenceto time andplaceensurethat we are awareof the narrativethread.
As in earlier analysisof our child-narrators,the writer does not always,succeedin
in
her
first-person
is
first
line
For
that
the
a
child.
example,
very
narrator
convincingus
of Die Eisheiligenthe four-year-olddescribesthewaternot as "grOn",but as "resedagrOn%
The precisionof detail, suchas the narrator'sintricate descriptionof how she stealsa fir
tree, the way in which sheactuallyfells the tree, is too muchto expectof this narrator,so
that againit doesseemthat the adult writer is presentin the text, not to mentionthe fact
that the writer's imaginationis alsoat work in theseepisodes.SinceNovak doesnot deny
that this work is autobiographical,we ought to be suspiciousof suchdetailedinformation
becauseit would seemincredibleif the writer could recall eventsof more thanthirty years
in
is
Moreover,
there
points
clarity.
as
out,
one critic
no pathos this book
ago with such
becausethe tone is just as cold as the protagoniststhemselves:"Der Ton ( ) ist eiskalt,
...
leidenschaftslos.
Computer,
Sie
ein
rechnet
ab wie
siezhltdie Minuspunkteauf,
nchtern,

363

sie reiht endlosEpisodenaneinander,ohne Steigerung,nur geradenach dem zeitlichen


Ablauf geordnet".10
Historical eventsdo not always remain in the background,providing the settingand
intrude
In
Kada
life
daughter
because
they
the
the
the
narrative.
upon
of
of
atmosphere
they are inseparablefrom the mother's life. This has already been shown in our analysis
is
it
in
but
the
also
evident the structure. The funeral service for Katja provides
content,
of

the framework:on the onelevel thereis the funeralorationby Anna, on anotherlevel there
fluctuates
For
betweenthese
the
text
the
the
own
recollections.
mother's
of
story
most
are
two levels. However, it is noticeablethat for the first twenty-one pagesthere is no mention

because
by
life
begins
Anna
life
Katja's
talking
the
the
about
oration
mother's
of
immediatelybefore, during and after Ravensbrilck. Hence, the structureunderpinsthe
her
with
pastas well as the effect of this obsessionand of this actual
mother'sobsession
her
daughter;
it
illustrates
Katja's
history
the
source
of
many
of
problems.
on
of
period
Extractsfrom the orationoccuras the motherswitcheson andoff from listening; they also
jolt her memory. SometimesshecontradictsAnna'swords, sometimessheagreeswith her:
in both casessheelaboratesupon the orationin her own mind, hencethe appropriateness
begin
far
back
first
The
1935
in
Pragueand
the
person.
as
mother's
recollections
as
of
in
is
in
1970
becomes
full
East
It
by
Berlin.
Anna
that
the
apparent
oration
of
conclude
fact,
In
the
the
to the mother the
mother's
contrasted
reality
past.
with
of
when
clichds
is
lectures
like
her
listen:
to
to
she
reluctant
one
of
which
and
unwilling
oration sounds

Wie anders sieht sie das Kind, das "von den furchtbaren
Umstnden,die die Mutter prgten,nichtsmit bekam". Tr
unsRavensbrckerinnen",
sagteAnnaweiter, "die wir unsbei--

364

Fini zusammenfanden,
war Katja, die damalsDreijhrige,wie
ein Unterpfandneuen,befreitenLebens". (K. 26)

The strengthof Zinner's novellies in its content,ratherthanin its structureand style. On


is
between
the
there
the presentand the past which is recalled
oration
movement
accountof

by the mother. The memoriescontainmany facts and record conversationsin a chronological order, but thereis a distinctabsenceof emotionson the part of the motherwho, as
a narrator, gives an account of events, as if it is her duty. This highlights the fact that she
has learnt to control her feelings and grief and also points to one of the main problems in

her relationshipwith her daughter.


We comeacrossa similarbarrier in Kartenhauswherethe I-narratorreflectson thepast
in
detail
her
detachment,
her
that
and
such
with
such
relationship
with
mother
present
and
just
does
know
the
the
this
as
mother
emotions
experience
of
narrator,
not
really
we never
in
her
daughter's
Schriber's
is
detail
focus
to
on
attention
going
mind.
and
on
what
replacesany expressionof emotion,eitherwith referenceto pasteventsor to the
exactness
instance,
For
the mother fleetingly strokes the narrator's hair, which is
present.
in
"ein
Wespe
Gefhl,
htte
upon
as
eine
als
sich
meinemHaar verfangen"
commented
(K.H. 99). The narrativeaboundswith referencesto handsand hair, usually as a sign of
the mother'sold age. The frameworkof the narrativeis the narrator'svisit to the mother
throughoutwhich shetakesstockof her mother'sappearance,
watchesher activity around
the Icitchenand the way shebehaves. A certainaction or word expressedby her mother
her
days.
from
in
Thus,
to
the
childhood
recall
narrator
something
as mostof these
causes
reflectiveportrayals,the writer combinesthe presentwith the past, linking the narrator's
importance,
by
by
and
association
and
not
chronology, and presenting
recollections

365

length.
differing
And
like
the daughtersreflecting on their
of
memories
numerous
fathers,
fantasies
this
their
also
writer
merges
with
and dreamswith reality.
relationships
Sincethe narratorrebuildsher childhoodhomeout of her memoriesit could be said that
the book comprisesa collectionof memories,'cards', eachwith its own story to tell, the
is
'house'.
It
is
house
the
the
that
the
the
work,
create
whole
noticeable
of
which
sum

interest
initial
focus
her
it
is
house
the
arrival,
not
of
on
and
mother,
and
which
narrator's
herself
informs
The
the
tells
the
narrator's
memories.
narrator
of
most
and
so
stirs up
"mangelhaft",
impressions
these
that
memories
are
since
she
can
only
rely
on
reader
and
the pictures which remain in her mind of a sceneor a person. This comment, as well as

her analysisof the processher memoryhasundergoneand the way in which her feelings
have alteredover the yearsby dint of experienceand maturity, are applicableto all our
back
life:
bring
in
to
the
to
this
past
study, who endeavour
writers

Und ich seheeine Kindheit nach dem Eindruck von jener


Zeit. Sie bestehtvor allem in sinn chenWahrnehmungen.
Bilder sinddeutlich,bekommenjetzt eineWichtigkeit, die sie
haben.Unscheinbare
damalsnicht besessen
undvielleicht nur
fr mich wichtigeDingelsenpltzlicheineEmpirindungaus:
Es ist ein Fluidum, das fr mich an diesenDingen haftet.
(K.H. 119)

Trying to portray the past as truthfully and as realistically as possibleis one of the main
doubt,
face
because,
details
their
to
without
ability
with
such
writers
remember
problems
has
have
be
into
to
Moreover,
after
so
many
passed
called
years
precision
question.
such

366

their perceptionof past eventsand relationshipswill have been coloured by time and
Schriber's
does
that
so
narrator
give a true explanationof the problem.
experience,
As in thesebooksof reflectionsWohmann'sPaulinchenwar allein zu Haus also lacks
it
is
book
because
a
on theory, wherebythe writer presentsa theoreticalsituationto
action
test a child's responseto parents, who comply with theories on child-raising down to the

last detail. For the readerthe most interestingaspectof the structureis the fluctuation
betweennarrativelevels which can be brokendown into four areas:Christals and Kurt's
conversationswith Paula; their discussionswith friends about her behaviour; Paula's writing
down of her impressions of what she overhears; and her adoptive parents' reading and

is
has
framework
There
to this narrativewhich
what
she
written.
no
commentingupon
Paula's
in
her
her new surroundings.
anxiety
about
chamber
with
using
pot
opens
Subsequentepisodes,which also alternatebetweenthe past and present,are linked by
be
"Nachttopf'.
It
the
such
as
should
pointedout that the presenttense
particular words
is used to signal either direct conversations,for which there are no speechmarks, or
Paula'sinterior monologue,andnot to differentiatebetweenpastandpresenteventsbecause
this narrativeis written in the third person. Indirect conversations,that is, conversations
intentionally
is
Paula
half-asleep,are recordedin
overhears,
partly
or
when
she
which
italics. Sometimesitalics are usedfor Paula'sindirect speechor they highlight a tone of
in
Christa's:
voice, particular

Wassehenda meineentzndeten
Augen? Bist du dennnicht

heut wiederder Paul? Hast du unsdas nicht vorhin erst


groartig verkndet? Und deineangetrbtenPaulklamotten
angezogen?Undjetzt.- Puppen? Na hr mal, was ist denn

367

dasjUr ein perverser,jUr ein reichlich komischerPaul, der


benimmt sich ja wie ein sentimentalesdummes kleines
Madchen. (P.H. 48)

Whilst italics visually attract the reader's attention to particular words and phrases, they
illustrate
is
her
being
Paula's
awareness
said
and
also
of what
analysis of certain

is
because
be
The
to
she
ableto distanceherself
effect seems
oneof alienation
expressions.
from the emotional effect such words might have on her, not only as a result of her own

italicised
directed
her,
fact
but
these
the
that
are
words
not
at
also
most
of
analysis,
her
her.
Thus,
the
they
writer's
presentation
of
again,
material
concern
once
although
different
her
the
the
combined
with
perspectives,
protagonist,and
complements mentalityof
doesnot permit the readerto feel sorry for this child. As befits the title, Wohmann'snovel
is intendedto be a cautionarytale which is evidentboth in the contentand in the use of
her
between
is
detachment
the
the
that
writer and
protagonist
overall effect oneof
satire,so
is
In
the
trying
this
between
the
the
work
writer
clearly
not
protagonistand
reader.
and
to evokethe sympathyof the reader.
In Die ZachtigungMitgutsch forces the readerto confront the facts of child abuse,
howeverpainful thesefactsare,by dint of therealismof her first-personnarrator'saccount
in
begins
The
like
the present-dayof
her
narrative
a protocol.
upbringingwhich reads
of
thenarratorandmovesinto thepast,to her mother'supbringingandlife, which is triggered
by the narrator's daughter'asIcing about the similarities between her mother and
is
Marie,
first
For
the narrator's mother;
the
the
story
of
seventypages
grandmother.
different
introduces
it
is
interrupted
by
thoughts
the
a
which
occasionally
narrator'sown
temporal level. Such digressionsare indicated in the text by an asterisk and not by

368

numberedchaptersor episodes. We do not, therefore,lose sight of the I-narrator, even


though she does not narrate her mother's childhood, which would be impossible,
consideringthe detail and the fact that the reader is also madeaware of the mother's
thoughtsand feelingsas well as her reactionsandbehaviouras a child. Althoughthereis
movement between different temporal levels throughout the narrative, this is always

signpostedand the chronologyis precise,so that the compositionis clear and interwoven
descriptive
For
the readerthe reality
scenes
passages.
as
well
as
concise,
report-like
with
is
intense
immediate
by
the writer's ability to present
the
abuse
made
all
more
and
of child

the whole spectrumof emotionsin this narrator'slife - hatred,love, pride, pity. This work
shouldnot be seenas someIcindof vendettaon the part of the writer againstthe memory
of her mother and her treatmentof her daughter. Instead, the reader is encouragedto
Ultimately,
her
this understandingshould
child.
makes
a
mother
maltreat
understandwhat
lead to the ability to forgive.
The fact that the works analysedhereare all written by womendoesnot meanthat the
blendingof fact and fiction combinedwith any autobiographicalformat is just a female
trait, althoughmany critics do seeautobiographyas a featureof women's writing. As
Wohmann's
in
der
Ausj7ug
the
and
style
this
of
mentioned
structure
mit
chapter,
previously
Mutter is similar to that of Handke's WunschlosesUnglack and Hans Frick usesan
his
in
blaue
her
death
Stunde
Die
his
to
mother
and
relationshipwith
narrator reflect on
(1977)."

These two works are just two examplesof the male writer's blending of

fiction
from
The
tendency
text-external
text-intemal
and
a
standpoint.
and
autobiography
towardsautobiographicalwriting hasbeena featureof the works of German-speaking
male
in
look
female
in
1980s,
trend
1970s
the
at
especiallywhen we
and
authors the
and
'Vdterliteratur'. Having analysedthe narrativestrategies,we cannotregardthe works in

369

this studyas typifying or creatingcharacteristicspeculiaronly to womenwriters. That is


in
have
German-speaking
however,
that
to
women
writers
countries
contemporary
not say,
feminist
Verena
female
For
to
writers,
such
as
of
a
way
writing.
not attempted present
Stefanand Elfriede Jelinek, the structureand style of their writing is just as importantas
the content, if not more so. Both authors have tried to distancethemselvesfrom a language

by
they
as
patriarchal
regard
experimentingwith the visual and grammaticalform
which
for
instance,
letters
in
Both,
their
capital
which,
writing.
avoid using
as was noted
of
Schutting's Der Vater, seemsto be a common starting-point for creating a new language

in theseworks." Thus theseparticular writers want to impressupon the readervisually


themselvesfrom languageconstructedby men. Yet, this is not
that they haveemancipated
Schutting'sintentionin Der Vater,wheresheexperimentswith her writing in order to find
into
words the mourningprocessas well as to encouragethe readerto
of
putting
a way
reassesshis/her own attitudesto death. As Sigrid Weigel points out, discussionabout
is
futile,
is
least
because
female
there
often
specifically
not
writing
a
we
way of
whether
is
influenced
by
knowledge
the
that
writer a woman:
our
are already

Da Frauen'anders' schreibenist durch zahlreicheBeispiele


zu widerlegen.
zu belegenund durch viele Gegenbeispiele
Ausnahmensind, berhaupt
Die Frage,ob dieseGegenbelege
die empirischeFeststellungdes anderenSchreibens,scheint
mir an sich ohne Bedeutung. Viel wichtiger ist mir die
Frage, ob Frauen dadurch, da sie anders schreibenals
Mnner, ihren eigenenkulturellen Ort finden, ob sie eine

370

ihren Wnschenund Erfahrungenangemessene


Sprechweise
"
entwickeln.

It is this last point of whetherwomenhavefound their own cultural niche which we will
in
in
light
the
to
this
the
conclusion
study
of the works analysed.
examine

371
NOTES TO CHAPTER FIVE

Unglck(Salzburg:Residenz,1972).
PeterHandke,Wunschloses

Herbert Herzmann, 'Schreiben als Stiftung neuer Sinnzusammenhnge', Neue


Zarcher Zeitung, FemausgabeNr. 233,9 October 1987, pp. 41-42.

Hermann, p. 41.

Hermann, p. 41.

Seepage92 in this studY.

The lack of precisionwithTegardto time referencesis evidentfrom the following


list: "Vor drei Wochen", "neulich", "zwei Vormittagespter-,"seit zwei Monaten%
ffnachdrei, vier Monaten%

Capitalisationin Ausflug mit der Mutter is useddifferently in Zum Fenster


hinaus. Seepage359.

There is one phrasewhich is completelycapitalised. It is reported speechand


imitates the instructionsof the teachersin the boarding-school:"IHR SOLLT
LERNEN, MIT EUEREN PROBLEMEN SELBST FERTIG ZU WERDEN,

372
SELBSTNDIG EURE ENTSCHEIDUNGEN ZU TREFFEN, heit es hier immer"

(Z.F. 199).

In the first chapter1939comesto an end and 1940is the year for the rest of the
chapter.

10

Madeleine Gnthardt, 'Tiefgekhltes Verhltnis.

Helga M.

Novaks Die

Eisheiligen',Die Weltwoche,16 January1980.

11

Hans Frick, Die blaue Stunde (Mnchen: C. Bertelsmann, 1977).

12

VerenaStefan'sHautungen(1975)andElfriedeJelinek'sDie Liebhaberinnen(1975)
illustrate their experimentationwith languagein order to createa femaleway of
writing.

13

Sigrid Weigel, 'Der schielendeBlick.

Thesen zur Geschichte weiblicher

Schreibproxis',in Die verborgeneFrau, ed. by Inge Stephanand Sigrid Weigel


(Berlin: Argument, 1988),pp. 83-137(p. 88).

373
CONCLUSION: NOBODY'S DAUGHTER?

Whilst reviewingthe outcomesof our analysisof the themeand characterof a sampleof


to the
countriesfrom the mid-seventies
prose-worksby womenwriters in German-speaking
mid-eighties, we shall focus on the possibleimpact of the late sixties on thesewriters when
the majority would have been in their twenties and studying at university. We will look

to seeto what extentthe writer's perspectivehasbeenshapedby the attitudesof that era


towards the older generation. We shall then consider whether these literary works have a
particular purpose, such as a therapeuticvalue for the writer. Having taken into account
the influences of the past on the writer and the desired effect at the time of writing, it will

finally be worth notingwhat theintentionsof suchworks of literatureare for the writer and
for the reader.
In ChapterOnewe studiedthe relationshipsbetweendaughtersand fathersasportrayed
by Schwaiger,Schuttingand Plessenwhoseworks have been subsumedunder the term
'Vaterliteratur', showinghow eachof thesewomenwriters focusesprimarily on the familylife,
his
his
than
than
the
personal
rather
public life.
on
professionalman, on
man rather
her concernabouther own relationshipwith her father.
Aboveall, eachdaughterexpresses
The woman writers's 'Abrechnung', that is, whereverretribution and reconciliationare
draw
between
figure.
We
distinction
is
historical
therefore,
can,
a
unequivocal, not with an
daughters,aged thirty to forty, from German-speaking
counties, writing about their
deceasedfathersduring the late seventiesand early eighties,and sonsof the sameageand
country of origin, such as Niklas Franck or Sigfrid Gauch, coming to terms with their
fathers' official activitiesunderHitler's rule.
Twelve yearsafter the studentmovementthesepost mortempaternalportraits by sons
and daughtersdo havein commona certainoutspokenness,
which is indicativenot only of

374

the anti-authoritarianattitudethey hadprobablyadoptedas studentsduring the late sixties,


but also of the questionsposedaboutthe guilt and complicity of the adult populationof
Germanyand Austria under the Nazi regime. In these'Vdterb0cher'the questionsare
directedat specificindividuals, the fathers,and therebyacquirea personalslant arising
from a private situation. The 1968 demands of the women of the SDS to raise the

in
issues
the feminist principle
the
resulting
political
realm,
within
significanceof private
"the personalis political" (seeIntroduction),continueto be reflected in thesepersonal
portrayals of fathers by women writers. Their doubts about the patriarchal structure of

family
from
life,
their
the
they
own
of
paint
emerge
picture
are clearly
society, which
1968.
both
For
Women's
Movement
the
the
climate
of
maleandfemale
and
reminiscentof
it
is
by
this
the
upheaval
of
social
period
coloured
evident
writers whoseperspectivewas
been
father.
having
Hans
Mayer
fathers
that
than
of
a
that their
are servinga purposeother
between
irony
the
the
the
and
writers' needs:
students'
rejections
out
points

Die Bewegungder Achtundsechzigerwar alles in einem:


Generationsrevolte,ideologischerKonflikt, Abrechnungin
fast allen Einzelfllenmit der eigenenKindheit und Pubertt.
()

Die literarischeReaktionnachdemEndeder Revoltefiel

die
braucht
Vter
(
)
Man
als
sonderbar aus. ...
...
Reizmaterialfr die Beschftigungmit sich selbst.'

Without doubt the generationconflicts of the sixtiesprovided a springboardfor the later


'Vdterbficher'by sonsand daughters. The father is focusedon as the embodimentof the
dilemmafacedby his generation,namelyof meetingthe demandsof the Nazis and living

375
the problemof combiningprivate beliefswith social expectations;
with the consequences;
in
being
home
the
the
perfect
role
model
and being a collaboratorand perpertratorof
of
home.
have
in
As
the
we
seen theseworks by Schwaiger,Schuttingand
atrocitiesoutside
Plessen,the startingpoint for daughtersquestioningtheir fathers' private and public role
is the personal realm, which illustrates how typical theseworks are of women's writing as

for
it
is
However,
certainly the case that
women and men writers alike
a whole.
hasbecomemoreintimatewith writers looking inward to the
'Vergangenheitsbewdldgung'
family and themselves rather than outward to collective responsibility as portrayed by
Grass
Lenz.
as
and
such
writers

is apparentin these'VAterb0cher'in that the children are


Whilst anti-authoritarianism
rebellingby dint of their writing againsttheir fathers,a conflict of generationscomesto the
fore in the works aboutmothers. With referenceto Novak'sDie Eishelligen,Wohmann's
Ausj7ugmit der Mutter and JuttaHeinrich's Das Geschlechtder Gedanken(1977),Helga
Kraft and BarbaraKostanote that

the authors'datesof birth andthe yearsin which their novels


were publishedindicate that the generationof women who
have experiencedthe emancipatorymovementof the sixties
is clashingwith the g6nerationof womenwhoselives have
beenshapedby traditionalvalues.

This opinion ties in with our acknowledgement


aboveof the influencesof the late sixties
Here
fathers.
forties
daughters
in
their
thirties
their
writing
about
on sonsand
and
now
daughtersof the sameage experiencedthe New Women'sMovement. Kraft and Kosta

376
cometo the conclusionthat Novak, HeinrichandWohmannhaveshownhow "the motherdaughterrelationshipconstitutesa majoraspectin theperpetuationof powerlessness
which
traditionallyframeswomen'slives".3 As a result of our analysiswe can say the sameof
Schriber's Kartenhausand Mitgutsch's Die Zachtigung,where in each book the adult
daughterrecognisesher mother's continuing influence over her, whether she is living apart

from her daughteror whethersheis dead. All thesewomenwriters do makeit very clear
to the readerthat as daughtersthey find it impossibleto dissociatethemselvesfrom their
mothers on a psychological level without incurring guilt and anguish for having physically

partedfrom them. Yet, as our analysisin ChapterTwo illustrates,this separationfrom the


motheras well as the daughter'sacceptance
of the way her motherwas or is are intrinsic
to the daughter'sestablishmentof her own senseof identity. Whilst it has alreadybeen
notedthatportrayalsof mothersarenot solelythedomainof womenwriters, only daughters
are ableto write abouttheir ambivalent,oftenguilt-ridden,relationshipswith their mothers
questfor self-identityon accountof thecomplexidentificationprocess
andtheir subsequent
which takesplacebetweenmotherand daughter.
ChapterThree highlightedthe difficulties adopteddaughtersencounterin coming to
termswith feelingsof deprivationasa resultof neverhavinggot to know their real parents.
Whetherthe tone of the narrative,is satirical or true-to-life, both Wohmannand Novak
illustrate the senseof insecurityeachadopteeexperiences,culminatingin her decisionto
leaveher adoptiveparents. Whilst Wohmannvoicesher criticism of adultswho adoptfor
all thewrong reasonsthroughher daughterfigure, Novak speaksfrom her own experience.
The traumaticupbringingof the femaleadopteeis dealt with convincinglyby thesetwo
womenwriters. In ChapterFour the daughter'sdepartureis not just from her parentsbut
from life itself. Both Haideggerand Zinner show that the mother plays an influential,

377

decisivepart in the shapingof her daughter'sattitudeto life. Onceagainonly a woman


have
insight
for beingableto depictso genuinelythe symbiotic
the
writer would
necessary
bond betweendaughterand motherand all the guilt feelingsattachedto this relationship.
Having analysedthecontentandnarrativestrategyof ten novelsby womenwriters from
German-speakingcountries, we can conclude that when we talk about modem women's

writing, we are not, in fact, identifying a newly created language, instead we are
acknowledgingthat writing servesa purposefor womenwhich is different to that of their
male counterparts. This purpose is often related to the woman's need to define herself

throughanalyticalreflectionson the past, therebyestablishingher own identity, as well as


to be valuedas a personin her own right by her parents,husband,lover and societyas a
female
literature
is,
Hence,
that
they
of
self-expression,
are
many
works
works
of
whole.

been
in
has
This
the sampleof works
evident
subjective
and self-absorbed.
are extremely
from
German-speaking
have
studied
countrieswherepast eventspeculiar to Germany
we
daughters-cum-writers
have
in
Austria
these
the
their
of
played
and
role shaping attitudes
towardstheir parents. Plessenand Novak are not only concernedwith introspectiveselfbut
their
relationships,
also with the power of
portrayal of parent-daughter
analysisvia
influences
from one's own
dehumanising
the
effect of negative
social expectationsand
break
barrier
is
helping
Each
to
the
these
of silence: on a
of
environment.
writers
level
level
dispel
they
the
they
parents;
notion
perfect
on
a
of
sociological
psychological
"Aufarbeiten,
das
historical
facts
Wegarbeiten,
them:
they
as
wird
experienced
present
immer mehr zum Thema der Literatur in diesenJahren, als wre da etwas zu lange
5
verschwiegenworden".
When we considerthe therapeuticeffectsof women's writing we are able to deduce
from our analysisof 'VAterb6cher'thatwriting aboutone'sdeceased
fatherprovidesa sense

378
for
daughters,
these
many
of
grown-up
and to a certain extentthe sons.
of emancipation
It is not merelya questionof comingto termswith their father'sdeathand overcomingthe
it
is
hatred,
to
criticism,
an
opportunity
express
one's
occasionally
mourningprocess,rather
love, and to revealhometruths without fear of retribution from this authoritarianperson.
In his discussionof 'VAterb5cher' past and present in German literature Peter Dettmering
views the deathof a father as a releasefor writers such as Meckel and Schutting in the light

for
fathers
German
inherited
from
have
their
these
the
past
complicity
children
guilt
of
fascist
his/her
By
a
regime.
exposing
awarenessof this guilt to the reader the writer
under

is undergoinga cathartic processof ridding himself/herselfof this burden. Here too


individual concernsacquiresocialsignificancethroughthe sharingof responsibility:

()

der Autor leidet unter einemauf ihm oder dem Vater

lastendenFluch, und da dieserFluchim weiterenSinnder der


Gemeinschaft,des Kollektivs ist, erwartet der Autor eine
Teilnahmedes Kollektivs an der von ihm persnlich stelldann,
die
Schuld
Erst
Schuld.
wenn
vertretendgetragenen
ist,
kann
der
Sohn
der
Fluch
worden
oder
geteilt, mitgeteilt
darf
der
Vater
des
Vaters
Stelle
die
setzen,
wirklich an
wirklich tot sein - ...

However,the caveatshouldbe madethat thereis the dangerof fictionalisingthe horror of


German history to suchan extentthat it is only throughliterature that thesewriters can
'
face
do
to
therefore
not
up reality.
cometo termswith the past, and

379
in someIVAterb0cher',especiallythoseby male writers, the aspectof revengeis, in
fact, a more predominantfactor than in others. The daughterson the other hand focus
primarily on the intimate relationship in order to understandboth their fathers and
father
themselves.ElisabethPlessenexplainsher experienceof writing abouther deceased
in MWeilung an den Adel in the following way:

()

ein Monster-Vaterbleibt eine zentraleFigur auch ber

seinen Tod hinaus, eine Hypothek.

Das eigene Ich, die

eigene Persnlichkeit lst sich erst nach und nach durch sie

hindurchein, wenn der Proze,der mit ihm gefhrt wurde,


das Messer so nachhaltig und ber Jahre ins Herz bohrte.

Wundenmssenheilen. Vielleicht brauchensie dazugenau


'
lange,
haben.
so
wie sie geblutet

As has been highlighted throughoutthis study the processof healing must be seenas
in
1984
in
interview
When
about the possibletherapeuticeffect of
asked an
ongoing.
in
hesitation
Schwaiger
the affirmative:
Brigitte
answeredwithout
writing

Bestimmt! So wie Sprechenauch. WirklichesSprechen,bei


dem innerster Gedanke und innerstes Fhlen mit dem
bereinstimmen,was man sagt. SolchesSprechenist auch
dieser
Literatur
Art
Heilung.
Ich
und
wrde
eine
zwischen
des Sprechensgar nicht soviel Unterschied machen.9

380
As we haveshown,the highly subjectivenatureof a majority of women'swriting points
to the therapeuticaspectof expressingpersonalanxietiesandemotionalconflictsby putting
has
been
This
I-narrator.
through
thoughts
these
to
especially
an
pen paperand voicing
death
by
in
daughters
to
to
the
trying
terms
the
come
with
of a parent:
works
evident
"Schreiben also zur Lebensbewltigung,als Handlungsersatz und ebenso als
Handlungwoglichkeit"."
Many of the aboveaspectsappearin anotherrecentlypublishedTaterbuch', Sibylle
Plogstedt's Memandstochter, subtitled Auf der Suchenach dem Vater, which provides the
"
for
Conclusion.
this
title

Before the narrative begins Plogstedt dedicates her book to

herselfandcallsit a "Protokoll einerTherapie". At the endof the book sheacknowledges,


her
during
her
for
her
her
the
therapist
counselled
search
who
amongstothers, supportof
in
have
implicit
the
father.
The
of
novels
therapeutic
many
we
studied
role of writing
real
her
has
that
is here acknowledged
this
admits
writing
served
openly, since
womanwriter
It
book
for
her
testimony
her
that
therapy.
that
a
as
of
stands
therapeutic
and
purpose
a
becomesevidentin the book that the tide is a contradictionin terms: the daughterrefers
be
daughter
has
'somebody'.
Our
to
the
father
"Niemand",
her
of
to
as
yet she
unknown
daughter
despises,
hates
loves
her
however
fact
highlights
the
that
each
or
much
analysis
father/mother,shecannotdenyher origins.
Closelylinked to this self-therapyis the notion that in thesepersonalaccountswomen
hence
identity
discovering
for
the
their
their
self,
and
own
writers are ultimately searching
is
for
typical
Mitgutsch's
to
turning
writing
reason
aspect
writing.
of women's
narcisstic
den
Versuch
ich
Grund,
her
female
"Der
schlieBlich
warum
of many of
colleagues:
ist
habe,
ttig
ein rein persnlicherund
zu
werden,
selbstschriftstellerisch
unternommen
12
that
is
hat etwasmit Selbstbestdtigung
therefore,
It
tun".
not surprising,
und -findung zu

381
mostcontemporarywomen'sliteratureis autobiographical
and subjectivebecausenot only
are they consciousof the demandsof the Women'sMovement,but thereis alsothe desire
to reflect on one's own sufferingand probe deepwithin one's own psyche. The act of
is
father
towardsself-determination:
or mother clearly a stepping-stone
writing aboutone's
is
in
itself
but
book
not
an
end
a means to recognising and understanding the
each

Generation
between
daugthers
the
after generation
and
parents.
of
relationships
complexity
doubts,
from
throughout
the
similar pain,
all classes
world experiencesimilar
of women
in
German-speaking
is
these
countries, a
originating
gives
although
what
works,
which

universalquality.
The relevance of autobiography to women's writing is highlighted in Brigitte

Schwaiger'snovel SchonesLicht (1990), when the protagonist,Christine, a writer by


profession,comments:

Da hat sie sich so geplagt, da nahm sie die Zettel immer


in
bemhte
da
der
Lade,
sie sich, eine andere
wieder aus
Welt zu entfliehen,und jetzt sagendie Leute: Ihr Buch ist
ja,
hat
Na
schlielich
siees
wahrscheinlichautobiographisch.
ja wirklich selbstgeschrieben. In diesemSinn ist es eine
13
Auto-Bio-Graphie. Eine Selbst-Lebens-Schrift.

For the woman writer, writing can be seenas a methodof survival, not just of artistic
first
Johanna
W6rdemann's
the
We
meetingof
article about
are remindedof
creation.
'Schreiben
in
1976.
Entitled
by
Frauenoffensive
Munich
the
womenwriters in
organised
the
Wrdemann
the
berleben
of
Schreiben
Arbeit'
concems
reflected
um zu
oder
als

382
womenabouttheir reasonsfor writing, which could be categorisedinto thesetwo areasof
"
motivation.

For the male writer this notion of 'writing to survive' would be

incomprehensible
and inapplicable. BarbaraFrischmuthinterpretsthe significanceof
wrifing for her as weineLebensformund Lebensmglichkeit,vielleicht aucheine, um zu
fiberleben".Is Scornedfor trying to competein what hasbeentraditionallya men'sworld,
in
heard
themselves
womenwriters are maldng
and understood,and the processthey are
finding their niche in literature through the commonalityof sharedfemale experience.
Thus, writing to survive as a woman has its origins in authenticity: "Die Schwierigkeit zu

darin,
liegt
Autor,
ich
da
allem
vor
schreiben,
und sehe mich nun eindeutigals weiblichen
immer mehr aus mir selbstherauszu schreiben".` As Eva Koch-Klenskepoints out, the
literary
during
decades
works as well astheir
the
two
women's
appearance
past
of so many
for
their
for
depicting
that
searching
own
are
women
prove
preference
private experiences

form of communicadon:

Eine Sprachesuchenums Leben. Eine Sprachesuchen,in


der sich lebenlt. Frauen schreiben'an ihrer Geschichte
(wenngleich auch noch allzu oft in Geschichten),als wollten

den
Monolog,
das
ben,
das
Leben
um
sie schreiben
neue
sie
Sprechenmit dem anderen,denDialog zu proben.17

Through writing, women are continuing to share their frustrations and everyday
problemswith other women,andexposethe inequalityin women'slives, just as they had
donewithin the self-experience
groupsof the New Women'sMovementin the late sixties.
In her article 'Schreibenals Angriff auf das Patriarchat'in 1979Brigitte Wartmannhad

383
already at that time recognisedthe signficanceof writing for women due to the
commonalityof femaleexperience:

Es erleichtertdie individuelle Suchenach einemverlorenen


Selbst-Bewutseinund lt darber hinaus in den von Frauen

produziertenTextenmittels der vielfach variierten einzelnen


Erfahrungen ein gemeinsamesKultur-Schicksal erkennen."

Nowadays the individual concerns of each female writer can be seen more clearly as

indicative of problemsfor women in society at large, since her criticism is far more
is
and
reachinga wider readershipas a result of marketingstrategies. It does
vociferous
itself
be
has become a tool for
"the
to
the
that
appear
case
process of writing
"
emancipation". Certainly such detailedportraits of fathersand mothersdid not occur
thirty yearsago and would never havedoneso today had it not beenfor the intellectual
climate of 1968. It is evidentfrom their works that Germansonsand daughtersof the
postwargeneration,writing abouttheactivitiesof their parentsduring the Third Reichhave
little respectfor them, partly becausethey regard their parentsas culpable for having
supportedHitler, whetheractivelyor passively,andpartly becausethey are willing andnot
afraid to tell the truth.
In 1992the daughterof Martin Walser,AlissaWalser,receivedthe IngeborgBachmann
for
her short story Geschenkt,in which she portrays a seemingly incestuous
prize
"
between
father
daughter.
relationship
and

At the time Walser admittedthat she had

exploitedher own relationshipwith her fatherfor the sourceof materialbut sherefutedany


autobiographical
associations,addingthat shewastoo young(31) for memoirs. Yet, as we

384
have seenin the works in this study, many womenauthorsare agedbetweenthirty and
forty and, as for example in the case of Plessen and Schwaiger, cannot deny
in
is
interesting
Walser's
Alissa,
What
the
case
of
associations.
particularly
autobiographical
story is that she has chosento write abouta daughter-fatherrelationshipwhilst her own
father is still alive, and, what is more, is highly regardedfor his writing. In contrast, then,

to thewomenwriters consideredhere,this daughterhaschosennot to wait until her father's


deathbeforedescribingan extremelyintimaterelationship. Shemusthavealsobeenaware
in
literary
father's
her
damage
likely
the
to
the
reputation
world as well
cause
she was
of

impact
incurring
his
the
on their own relationship.
wrath and negative
as the probabilityof
In the light of our analysisof German-speaking
women'swriting of the mid-seventies
to mid-eighties,it seemsalmost inevitable that female authors of the nineties will be
in
irrespective
fathers
living
their
writing,
of the
and mothers
prepared to confront
has
the
the
It
the
woman
writer
gained
over
past
a
sign
self-confidence
of
consequences. is
for
in
found
herself
longer
has
footing
a
the
no
maletwenty yearsand
she
independent
dominatedliterary world, wherepublishersare eagerto encourageTrauenliteratur' and
is
here.
The
have
today
themes
the
writer
of
clearly not a
woman
we
covered
market
but
independent
'Niemandstochter':sheis self-assured
at the sametime consciousof
and
her family ties. However muchthe daughtersin this study may havewishedto 'disown'
their fathers,mothersor adoptiveparentsin order to achieveemancipation,they could not
denytheir origins and the influenceof their parentson their upbringingand development,
Schriber.
in
Plessen
if
had
distanced
the
themselves,
and
they
as
case
of
even
physically
For nearlyall theseauthorsthe readeradoptsa role aldn to a therapistbecausethe woman
While
is
tell
listener
to
all.
somecritics mayconsider
can
writer seekinga good
whom she
the autobiographicalpenchantof women writers and the often self-therapeuticaspectof

385
their literary work as self-indulgent,it hasto be stressedthat for both the womanwriter and
the womanreaderthereis a senseof solidarityand self-affirmationin understandingeach
is
daughter'.
'somebody's
lives,
that
that
each
proves
she
other's
ultimately
writer

386
NOTES TO CONCLUSION

HansMayer,Die unenvanschte
Literatur. DeutscheSchrlftstellerundBikher 19681985 (Frankfurta.M.: Suhrkamp,1992),p. 129.

Helga W. Kraft and Barbara Kosta, 'Mother-Daughter Relationships: Problems of

Self-Determinationin Novak, Heinrich and Wohmann', German Quarterly, 56


(1983),74-88 (p.75).

Kraft and Kosta, p. 85

Interestinglyin her mostrecentbookDer rote Faden(1992)Brigitte Schwaigeralso


takesup the themeof motherhoodfrom the perspectiveof the writer as mother, so
that onceagainthe womanwriter is very subjectiveandpersonal. Karin Struck is
in
for
crificised allowingpersonalsentiments, particularpainful andangryemotions,
to cloud her argumentsagainstabortionin her latestbook Ich sehemein Kind im
Traum(1992).
GertrudFussenegger,'In jeder Wiegeliegt die Zukunft. Neuesvon Karin Struck
1992.
August
15
Schwaiger',
Die
Welt,
Brigitte
und

Ingeborg Drewitz, 'Jugendvon 1939bis 1951. Helga M. Novaks RonlanDie


Eishelligen',Der Tagessplegel,
30 September1979.

387
6

Peter Dettmering, Ter Tod als Befreiung? ber den Vater in der Literatur und im

Leben', LoccwnerProtokolle,6 (1981),23-31 (p.31).

SeeHinrich C. Seeba,'ErfundeneVergangenheit: Zur Fiktionalitt historischer


Identititsbildung in den VAter-Geschichtender Gegenwart', Germanic Review, 66

(1991), 176-182.

Elisabeth Plessen, 'Abschied von den Vtern', in Vatersein, ed. by Hans-Jrgen


Schultz (Mflnchen: dtv, 1984), pp. 19-30 (p.27).

Eva Koch-Klenske, '"Solches Sprechenist auch eine Heilung". Ein Gesprchmit

Brigitte Schwaiger',in Die Sprachedes Vatersim Krper der Mutter, ed. by Rolf
Haubl et al. (Giessen:Anabas,1984),pp.153-162(pp.157-158).

10

Eva Koch-Klenske, Das hliche Gesicht der schnen Frau (Mnchen:


Frauenbuchverlag,1982),p. 18.

11

Sibylle Plogstedt,Niemandstochter.Auf der Suchenachdem Vater (Mnchenand


ZOrich:Piper, 1991). As was the casefor the daughterstrying to understandtheir
deceasedfathersin ChapterOne, this daughterfeels that shehasbeendeprivedof
a specialrelationship:

Ich streckemeineFhler aus ins Niemandland,sprecheihn


ich
in
die
Bin
du
Leere
bist
Water,
du?
Bist
mir?
an:
wer

388
die Tochtervon nichts? Bin ich deshalbniemand? Glaube
ich darum: Mich liebt niemand?
" Die Leere in mir ist so
gro, da mu Platz fr jemand gewesensein. Mhsam
entziffere ich meineLebenschiffre:"Niemand,das bist du,
ff

Vater

(Niemandstochter,
p. 13)

Throughout the account the daughter refers to her unknown father as "Niemand"

which explainsthe title of Plogstedt'sbook. It becomesclear that the motherplays


in
in
book
this
an equallysignificantrole
and her daughter'slife, becausesheis the
one to whom the narratorrepeatedlyturns for informationabout her father: "Das
Risiko, meineMutter zu verlieren, kannich nicht eingehen. Sie ist meineeinzige
(N. 89). Thereare numerousconversations,phonecalls andletters
Bezugsperson"
betweendaughterand mother,and the writer sendsher motherdraft excerptsfrom
her book as a result of which her mothercomments:"Ich bin dir so nahe,wie all
die Jahre noch nie" (N. 154), which recalls Wohmann'sbelief that her writing
createdanother kind of closenessbetweenher and her mother. Furthermore,
Plogstedtendsher book by referring to her mother: "Vor allem dankeich meiner
ihr und ihrer
Mutter, ( ) weil mein Buchja auch eine Auseinandersetzung
mit
...
Geschichteist" (N. 163). As in the works concemedwith raother-daughter
her
is
identifies
daughter
this
relations,
motherand afraid of repeatingher
with
also
bis
lange
"Mssen
Mtter
die
Fehler
mistakes:
so
wiederholen, wir sie
unserer
wir
lsenknnen? Was wre dasfr ein makabrespsychischesErbe" (N. 49).

389
It is possiblein this onework to draw a numberof parallelswith the ten works
analysedin this study. Firstly, the I-narratoris the voice of the writer who wants
to know who her fatherwas, whathis political activitiesunderHitler were, how he
treatedhis mother and how he brought up his sons. Like the narrator in Lange
Abwesenheitshe too visits her father's grave and talks to him, as if he were alive:

"Ich mu spren,wie der da liegt" (N. 131), so that in death she is able to get
physicallycloseto him for the first time. Secondly,this searchrevealsthe fact that
the adult daughter is searching for her own self which she seesas incomplete as

long as her father remainsa stranger. Moreover, she blamesher father and his
highlighted
from
by her active
her
for
her
life
as
absence
rebellious nature
imprisonment,
in
demonstrations
her
subsequent
and
participation
Political
father
her
heavy
drinker
her
in
fact,
discovers
that
was
a
and
alcoholism- she,
deep-rooted
insecurity.
her
from
sense
of
promiscuity,all of which stem

12

Birgit Leonhardt, 'Interview mit Waltraud Anna Mitgutsch', Buchreport, 5 June


1985,p.32.

13

Brigitte Schwaiger,SchnesLicht (Mnchen:Langen-Mller, 1990).

14

JohannaWrdemann, 'Schreibenum zu berlebenoder Schreibenals Arbeit.


Notizen zum Treffen schreibenderFrauen in Mnchen, Mai 1976, Alternative,

108/109(1976),115-118.

390
15

Schriftstellerdefinieren
Hilde Schmlzer,Frau seinundschreiben. sterreichische
sterreichischer
(Wien:
Bundesverlag,1982),pp.64-72 (p.72).
sich selbst

16

Barbara Frischmuth, 'Eine Literatur, die entwaffnet', Courage 7, Berliner


Frauenzeitung,Jg.3 (Juli 1978), 22-25.

17

Koch-Klenske, p. 18.

18

Brigitte Wartmann, 'Schreiben als Angriff auf das Patriarchat, Literaturtnagazin,

11 (1979), 108-129(p.109).

19

Kraft and Kosta, p. 86.

20

Alissa,Walser, "Ich will dein privatesFleisch. Die in Klagenfrtausgezeichnete


ErzAhlungGeschenktvon Alissa Walser', Der Spiegel,6 July 1992,pp. 182-185.

391
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