The Germanic Mosaic: Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Society

By Carol Aisha Blackshire-Belay | Go to book overview
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extremely complicated personality of the alienated and oppressed main character, Francine Pallas, and by extraction Libuse Moníková. This is the binding theme of the text. This is what critic W. Iggers failed to see. Only so does the author's literary sadomasochism make sense.

The text finishes with a kind of exorcism. Francine destroys the wheelchair, the symbol of her incapacitation. She does it on June 3, the anniversary of the deaths of Franz Kafka and Arno Schmidt, Francine's "Widersacher" [adversary] and her "Stützen" [support]. She pushes the wheelchair, which has a sticker reading "Für schwarze Küken" ["for black chicks"], over a cliff, thereby expelling the death from her life. The sticker is symbolic of the analogy Monikovi draws between the chicks on the conveyor belt and people struggling to survive in the fast-paced West German society. However, one solitary black chick does manage to escape the ram of death:

Die vollen Behälter auf dem Hof, in dem Schrot zuckt es -- schwache Bewegungen der noch nicht ganz toten Käkenreste. Unter dem Schrot erscheint etwas Schwarzes, das schwarze Küken ktimpft sich durch die Leichen und zerdriickten Eierschalen, kommt hoch, unversehrt, strampelt sich los und läuft. (7)

[Full containers in the yard. Something twitches in the mush-weak movements of the writhing bodies. From under the mush appears something black, the black chick. It breaks through the cadavers and crushed shells, it rises up, unharmed, stretches its wings, and runs.]

This chick is Francine Pallas. She twitches in the mush of the writhing bodies. She appears from under the mush, breaks through the layers of the squashed "crippens," stretches her wings, and runs toward the glamorous light of the literary prizes and renown which the author Libuse Moníková is soon to receive. Writing this intense and disturbing book was Moníková's exorcism of her own oppression and displacement in West Germany -- her literary catharsis. Now she can say: "Ich surnme vor mich hin . . . und gehe ohne Last" (146) ["I am humming . . . and I am going unencumbered"].

Libuse Moníková, Pavane für eine verstorbene Infantin ( Berlin: Rotbuch, 1983), 11.
Quoted in Franz J. Görtz et al., Deutsche Literatur 1987. Jahresüberblick ( Stuttgart: Reclam, 1988), 79.
Op. cit.
Pavane, also pavan (Spanish pavana -- "peacock dance," pavo -- "peacock"), is a slow, stately court dance of the sixteenth century. The dancers improvise the dance by making steps forward or backward without any turns; sometimes dancers move only one foot.


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The Germanic Mosaic: Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Society
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