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Themes

Nothing ends with a big ol' revenge-fest. Agnes manages to get away from Gerda's fists of fury and bring Pierre Anthon back to the sawmill at long last, only to participate in his murder. The desire for revenge is justified, although, of course, the murder isn't. Everyone has lost something of major importance, only to see Pierre Anthon scoff at it. They're mad at him, they're mad at the person who made them give up whatever they gave up, and it all gets really Jerry Springer really fast. Interestingly, the aftermath of revenge is respect: after killing Pierre Anthon, they actually cry sincere tears at his funeral.

Questions About Revenge

  1. Can you ever really get revenge on a nihilist? If someone thinks the noblest thing you can do is die, do you get vengeance when you kill him, or do you just become the vehicle by which he lives out his philosophy?
  2. Is Agnes's revenge on Gerda made even more sinister by how calculated it is? Why or why not?
  3. Does Jon-Johan truly get revenge by telling on his peers, since in doing so he also makes them famous?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Holy Karl gets revenge on Elise by demanding that Pretty Rosa kill Cinderella. This is more important to him than having Pretty Rosa sacrifice something that's truly meaningful to her.

Eight years later, Agnes is still questioning the nature and reality of meaning, and it still makes her uncomfortable. In a way, Pierre Anthon is still getting revenge on his classmates long after his death.

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