Study Guide

Mother Courage and Her Children Scene VI

By Bertolt Brecht

Scene VI

OUTSIDE THE BAVARIAN TOWN OF INGOLSTADT COURAGE PARTICIPATES IN THE FUNERAL OF THE LATE IMPERIAL COMMANDER TILLY. DISCUSSIONS ARE HELD ABOUT WAR HEROES AND THE WAR'S DURATION. THE CHAPLAIN COMPLAINS THAT HIS TALENTS ARE LYING FALLOW AND DUMB KATTRIN GETS THE RED BOOTS. THE YEAR IS 1632.

  • Mother Courage is inside a canteen tent, with a bar at the rear. Drums and funeral music are heard in the background. The chaplain and the regimental clerk are playing a board game.
  • They're talking about Commander Tilly's funeral. (He was a real person. Head to our section on "Allusions.")
  • MC thinks it's funny that the clerk is playing hooky on the day of the funeral.
  • Turns out most of the officers are out drinking, according to the clerk, because they got paid before the funeral. Plus, it's raining.
  • MC mentions that there won't be any funeral bells for the funeral, since the commander ordered his troops to destroy all the churches.
  • And she also heard that the Second Regiment never got paid, because the commander said "it was a war of faith and they should do it for free." Yeah, that's definitely fair. Not.
  • MC feels sorry "for all those generals and emperors." They think they're something special, and make all sorts of grand plans, but it all fails because "ordinary folk" don't share their higher aspirations.
  • MC and the chaplain discuss whether the war will ever end. The chaplain thinks the death of one commander won't make much difference. The war might stop for a little bit, but the people in charge will start it up again in no time. And soldiers are always willing to fight.
  • MC wonders whether she should stock up on wares while prices are low. If the war keeps going, she'll stay in business.
  • Meanwhile, a soldier at the bar has started singing.
  • The clerk wants to know if he'll ever get to go home.
  • The chaplain gives a little speech about peace. His point is that wartime is really no different from peacetime; fighting in the war is not much different than fighting to make a living by, say, plowing the fields.
  • MC decides to stock up while the prices are low, because now she's convinced the war will keep on trucking for a while. Yay?
  • Kattrin isn't happy about that—according to what MC says, Kattrin has been waiting for peace to get married.
  • Kattrin leaves with the clerk to buy up new things in town.
  • The chaplain says he admires MC and sees why people call her Courage.
  • Well, MC responds, poor people have to have courage just to get up in the morning and go to work. They have to have courage because there's no hope for them, in peace or in war. Cheerful, right?
  • MC is smoking a pipe and the chaplain asks her where she got it. She got it from the cook.
  • Stay clear of the cook, he tells her. That guy's out to seduce her. He says you can tell he's an angry man by the way he chewed on his pipe.
  • Then the chaplain complains that his preaching abilities are being wasted, working for MC. He studied to be a pastor, after all.
  • MC has no use for his talents.
  • The chaplain is certain MC's hard exterior actually masks a warm heart. Would she consider getting together with him? Bow-chicka-bow-wow.
  • MC says she can't think about that sort of stuff when her business is still up in the air.
  • Kattrin enters with a wound above her eye. A soldier attacked her on the way back to the wagon.
  • MC gives Kattrin the red high-heeled boots to comfort her, but Kattrin doesn't take them.
  • MC reminds Kattrin that it's the pretty ones who don't make it through the war. She should consider herself lucky.
  • After Kattrin leaves, MC wonders what goes on in her head. She can remember only one time that the girl spent all night away from the wagon. She never found out what happened.
  • They hear cannon fire, signaling the commander's burial.
  • MC mentions that Kattrin was made mute by a soldier who "stuffed something in her mouth" when she was a little girl. Now, with the scar from her wound, she'll never find a husband.
  • Swiss Cheese is dead; she doesn't know where Eilif is.
  • "War be damned."