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The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum by Heinrich Boll

Powerful Essays
The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum by Heinrich Boll

Authors often use characters within their novels to show the consequences of challenging cultural boundaries and, in turn, display their own personal concerns. It is not uncommon for characters to reflect an author’s ideology regarding social groups in their contemporary time periods. It is clear that this is certainly the case with the 1975 novel The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, (also referred to as How Violence Develops and Where it Can Lead), written by the German Author, Heinrich Boll. The Lost Honour is, on the surface, an attack on yellow journalism and the damage it causes to the lives of the people reported on. However, with a more in depth analysis of the novel we are able to see that Boll is in fact using his characters to reflect his own personal views on the stereotypical social groups in contemporary Germany. Boll himself has described The Lost Honour as “a pamphlet disguised as a novel”. Through the use of the seemingly ‘objective’ third person limited narrator, we are shown the consequences of challenging and conforming to the expected gender requirements. On one hand we are presented with Katharina Blum, a woman who rejects the majority of expected stereotypically feminine traits that are place upon women and the resulting slander upon her name in doing so. In contrast however, Boll also demonstrates the consequences of abusing power, which is stemmed from being a male, through the character of Totges, an example of a yellow journalist. It is Totges’ own assumptions of Blum and his vulgarly masculine ways which ultimately leads to his murder. It is important to remember that these narrative developments reflect Bolls own personal views formed from his own contex...

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...le seeking work and benefit from their misfortune. Although it was difficult, Boll’s father worked hard enough in order to ensure he have a comfortable life, much like Blum in The Lost Honour. With this in consideration in relation to the character of Blum’s misfortune we can deduce that the struggles of working class citizens trying to climb the economic ladder were of utmost importance to Boll.

The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, by Heinrich Boll, is a perfect example of how the author’s personal views on cultural groups in society can be reflected through characters. Blum not only demonstrated the struggles of women in society, but also that of lower class citizens, while Totges provided us with an insight into the corrupt use of power. Coupled with Bolls contextual information we are clearly able to see his concerns regarding the crossing of cultural boundaries.
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