Essay on The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum

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The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum

Knowing about the writer of a literary text can shape significantly the way that it is read. Consider the effect of the writer’s context on your understanding of The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum.

“As a writer of fiction Böll was interpreting history, creating patterns of meaning, ordering his material to enable his reader to make sense of it.” The experiences of Böll and his values that arose from these events have been influential on the content and themes of Böll’s novel, The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum. Böll experienced both the first and second world wars and the effects that these wars had on German society. Events such as the economic collapse in Germany post WWII, the construction of the
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In Böll’s eyes,
“After the experience of the trade crisis, of being at the mercy of economic forces, now came the experience of being at the mercy of political forces, which was almost worse, since you could get used to the former and somehow do something for yourself, but there was nothing you could do about the other.”
Böll found it especially distressing that the people who could have best afforded to resist the rise of fascism, for example the university professors, did so little. In The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, Böll s attitude of contempt for the Nazi’s can be viewed in the lack of interrogation of Konrad Beiters, “Konrad Beiters voluntarily admitted to having once been a Nazi and that alone explained why so far no one had paid any attention to him”. Konrad is the only character close to Katharina who is not questioned by the police and this shows the right winged political stance that West Germany still had in 1974 and the misuse of authority by powerful people in social institutions such as the media and the police, especially men.

In 1949, Germany was divided into the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). Böll was living in West Germany at the time and this is where The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum is set. West Germany was allegedly the democratic, capitalist sector whereas East Germany was governed with communist ideologies. Great paranoia was present in West Germany about East Germany because
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