Reference > Fiction > Nonfiction > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Father and Son
By Gerhart Hauptmann (1862–1946)
From ‘Michael Kramer’: Translation of Ludwig Lewisohn

KRAMER remains standing, groans heavily, grasps his forehead, and then begins to walk up and down in the foreground.  It is evident that it takes all his will power to become master of his profound emotion and to suppress a moan of spiritual pain.  After several struggles he controls himself.  He opens the hangings and speaks through them—Arnold, I simply wanted to talk to you.  [Arnold comes slowly forward.  He has a gay-colored tie on and betrays other attempts at foppishness.]  Why are you so tricked out?  1
  Arnold—How?  2
  Kramer—I mean your red tie, for instance.  3
  Arnold—Why?  4
  Kramer—I’m not used to seeing such things on you. You had better let them be, Arnold.—Have you made your designs?  5
  Arnold—What designs, father? I don’t know of any.  6
  Kramer—H-m. To be capable of forgetting such things! You have forgotten. Well, if it’s not too much trouble, perhaps you wouldn’t mind trying to think a little.  7
  Arnold—Oh, yes; you mean those for the cabinet-maker?  8
  Kramer—Yes, those for the cabinet-maker, for all I care. It’s not to the purpose what they were for. So I suppose you haven’t made much progress with them? Say: No, quite simply, please. Don’t think of excuses. But how do you pass your time?  9
  Arnold  [feigning astonishment]—I work, father.  10
  Kramer—What do you work at?  11
  Arnold—I draw, I paint—the usual thing.  12
  Kramer—I thought you were wasting your days. I am glad to know that I’ve been deceived. Furthermore, I won’t keep watch on you any longer. I’m not your gaoler.—And I want to take the opportunity of telling you that, if you have anything on your heart, I am, after all—if you don’t mind my saying it—your father. Do you understand? Remember that, please.  13
  Arnold—But I haven’t anything on my heart, father.  14
  Kramer—I didn’t say you had. I made no such assertion. I said: If you have! In that case I might be of some little help to you. I know the world somewhat more thoroughly than you do. I was trying to take a precaution; do you understand?—You were away from home again last night. You are ruining yourself. You are making yourself ill. Take care of your health. A sound body means a sound spirit; a sound life means sound art. Where were you so long yesterday? Never mind; it doesn’t concern me after all. I don’t want to know what you don’t care to tell me. Tell me voluntarily or be silent.  15
  Arnold—I was out of town with Alfred Fränkel.  16
  Kramer—Is that so? Where? In Pirscham, or where?  17
  Arnold—No; over by Scheitnig and thereabouts.  18
  Kramer—And you were both there all night?  19
  Arnold—No, later we were at Fränkel’s house.  20
  Kramer—Until four o’clock in the morning?  21
  Arnold—Yes, almost until four. Then we took a stroll through the streets.  22
  Kramer—You and Fränkel? You two alone? Then you’re very great friends indeed. And what do you do together when you sit there while other people are in their beds?  23
  Arnold—We smoke and talk about art.  24
  Kramer—Is that so?… Arnold, you’re a lost soul!  25
  Arnold—Why?  26
  Kramer—You’re a lost soul! You’re depraved to the very core.  27
  Arnold—You’ve said that more than once.  28
  Kramer—Yes, yes; I have been forced to say it to you. I have been forced to say it a hundred times and, what is worse, I have felt it. Arnold. Prove to me that I am lying; prove to me that I am doing you wrong! I’ll kiss your feet in gratitude.  29
  Arnold—It doesn’t much matter what I say, I believe …  30
  Kramer—What? That you are rotten?  31
[Arnold, very pale, shrugs his shoulders.]
  Kramer—And what’s to be the end of it all, if that’s true?
  Arnold  [in a cold and hostile voice]—I don’t know that myself, father.  33
  Kramer—But I know! You’re going straight to your ruin!  34
[He walks about violently, stops at the window, holding his hands behind him and tapping his foot nervously to the floor.]
[Arnold, his face ashy pale and distorted, grasps his hat and moves toward the door.  As he presses the knob of the door, Kramer turns around.]
  Kramer—Have you nothing else to say to me?
[Arnold releases the knob.  He has hardened himself and peers watchfully at his father.]
  Kramer—Arnold, does nothing stir in you at all this? Do you not feel how we are all in torment for your sake? Say something! Defend yourself? Speak to me as man to man! Or as friend to friend! I am willing! Do I wrong you? Teach me to deal more justly, then; but speak! You can speak out like the rest of us. Why do you always slink away from me? You know how I despise cowardice! Say: My father is a tyrant. My father torments me and worries me; my father is at me like a fiend! Say that, but say it out openly. Tell me how I can do better by you! I will try to improve, I give you my word of honor. Or do you think that I am in the right in all I say?
  Arnold  [strangely unmoved and indifferent]—Maybe it’s true that you’re right.  37
  Kramer—Very well, if that is your opinion. Won’t you, then, try to do better? Arnold, here I give you my hand. There; take it; I want to help you. Let me be your comrade; let me be your friend at the eleventh hour. But don’t deceive yourself! The eleventh hour has come; it has come now! Pull yourself together; rise above yourself! You need only to will it and it can be done. Take the first step toward good; the second and the third will cost no effort. Will you? Won’t you try to be better, Arnold?  38
  Arnold  [with feigned surprise]—Yes, but how? In what respect?  39
  Kramer—In all respects …  40
  Arnold  [bitterly and significantly]—I don’t object. Why should I? I’m not very comfortable in my own skin.  41
  Kramer—I gladly believe that you’re not comfortable. You haven’t the blessing of labor. It is that blessing, Arnold, that you must strive for. You have alluded to your person!  [He takes down the death mask of Beethoven.]  Look, look at this mask! Child of God, dig for the treasures of your soul! Do you believe he was handsome? Is it your ambition to be a fop? Or do you believe that God withdraws himself from you because you are near sighted and not straight? You can have so much beauty within you that the fops round about you must seem beggars in comparison.—Arnold, here is my hand. Do you hear? Confide in me this one time. Don’t hide yourself from me; be open with me—for your own sake, Arnold! What do I care after all, where you were last night. But tell me, do you hear, tell me for your sake! Perhaps you will learn to see me as I truly am. Well, then: Where were you last night?  42
  Arnold  [after a pause, deathly pale, with visible struggles]—Why … I’ve told you already, father.  43
  Kramer—I have forgotten what you said. So: Where were you? I don’t ask you in order to punish you. I ask you for the sake of truth itself! Prove yourself truthful! That is all!  44
  Arnold  [with bold front, defiantly]—Why, I was with Alfred Fränkel.  45
  Kramer—Is that so?  46
  Arnold  [wavering again]—Why, where should I have been?  47
  Kramer—You are not my son! You can’t be my son! Go! Go! My gorge rises at you! My gorge…!  [Arnold slinks out at once.]  48

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