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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #4

Fire Chief: "Once upon a time another cow asked another dog: 'Why have you not swallowed your trunk?'" (251)

We talk about this fable in "Philosophical Viewpoints: The Absurd" as well as in "Versions of Reality," but we just want to take this opportunity to point out how deft Ionesco's use of language is here. Just by adding the word "another" before "cow" and "dog," he totally distorts reality. So, what is it – are the animals dogs or cows? Are they both at the same time? Does it matter? How do we know what anything is? Ahhhh, our brains hurt! It's amazing that Ionesco is able to make us think so much just by adding one tiny word.

Quote #5

Fire Chief: "A young calf had eaten too much ground glass. As a result, it was obliged to give birth. It brought forth a cow into the world. However the calf was male, the cow could not call him Mamma. […] You've heard that one?"
Mrs. Smith; "It was in all the papers." (356-359)

"It was in all the papers," is a cliché. You hear people say that sort of thing all the time. However, Ionesco takes the cliché and turns it on its head. The story that the Fire Chief tells is obviously ridiculous. Why would eating glass cause a calf to give birth? And to a full-grown cow? Especially since the calf is male? Of course, the story makes no sense. It would be a pretty strange story for "all the papers" to print, don't you think? This is just another example of Ionesco using clichéd language to highlight the absurdity of the play's situations. It seems that, by placing something normal against something ridiculous, both things are somehow made absurd.

Quote #6

Mr. Martin: "The ceiling is above, the floor is below." (483)

Towards the end, the play's language really goes haywire. It's been pretty nonsensical that whole time, but the characters' dialogue becomes completely random. Many of the lines in this section are taken directly from the language primer which inspired Ionesco to write the play. The line above is one example of this (source).

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