The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum by Heinrich Boll - hegemony vs the marginalised

Essay by jasaminaHigh School, 12th gradeA, June 2004

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"Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac", (Kissinger, Henry). Heinrich Böll demonstrates to contemporary readers of the 1970's and even to readers of today, that the power structures existing in society can "act in an unpleasant and dangerous coalition, which exists to protect their interests and to damage those of individuals who ostensibly threaten them", (Harris, Nigel). He illustrates that power held in a society can be abused and that people who hold that power can use it against certain individuals. Böll's novel, The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum (The Lost Honour...), encourages readers to empathise and sympathise with the marginalised characters of Katharina Blum and the Blornas, and disapprove of the hegemony of power structures in the German society represented; the "industry, the police, the press, the legal profession and even the government and the church", (Harris, Nigel). The representations of characters' actions, their dialogue, interpretations of them by other characters and the narrator's guidance, frequently encourage readers to formulate conclusions about those characters.

Böll constructs a complex and confronting novel which ultimately makes a statement on the corruption which exists and occurs in a society and the "domination (and) ascendency held by one power or state within a league, confederation", (Oxford Dictionary).

The Lost Honour... introduces readers to a "report" (8) of crimes committed, not only towards society, but also of society towards its individuals. "This is a story in which the crime and the culprit are revealed from the beginning," (Notes for Teachers: The Lost Honour...), and the continued narration of the novel seeks to discover why the crime was committed and what caused Katharina Blum to "brutally" (9) murder news reporter, Werner Tötges. The "fluid" (8) representation of facts, originating from various sources, allows readers to construct a version of events and thus make various conclusions as to...