Study Guide

Mother Courage and Her Children Scene XI

By Bertolt Brecht

Scene XI

JANUARY 1636. THE EMPEROR'S TROOPS ARE THREATENING THE PROTESTANT TOWN OF HALLE. THE STONE BEGINS TO SPEAK. MOTHER COURAGE LOSES HER DAUGHTER AND TRUDGES ON ALONE. THE WAR IS A LONG WAY FROM BEING OVER.

  • The wagon is standing next to a peasant's house. Let's just say that it's seen better days at this point. Seriously, that thing must have racked up hundreds of thousands of miles at this point.
  • An ensign and three soldiers step out of the forest and start up a conversation. They're trying to figure out how to get one of the peasants to be their forest guide.
  • They knock on the door and the peasant's wife opens up.
  • The soldiers push their way through, and drag out the husband and son. They also pull Kattrin out of the wagon.
  • The soldiers ask if that's all of them. The peasants say MC is off buying stuff in town.
  • They order the peasant's son to be their guide through the forest.
  • When the peasant's son says he won't help Catholics, they threaten to kill him. But he only gives in when they threaten to kill the cattle. Without that, his whole family will starve.
  • They take the peasant's son and head off.
  • The husband climbs on top of the house to see where the soldiers are headed. The soldiers are off to attack the unsuspecting village.
  • They try to think of ways to warn the village, but decide it's hopeless. They'll just get themselves killed.
  • The peasant's wife starts to pray for their relatives in the village.
  • While she prays, Kattrin slips away and takes something from the cart. Hiding it under her apron, she climbs up on the roof of the stable.
  • Still praying, the peasants don't see what she's up to. Kattrin takes a drum out from underneath her apron and starts to beat it.
  • The peasants try to get her down, but she kicks the ladder over. The husband threatens to stone her.
  • The ensign returns with the soldiers and the peasants' son, threatening to kill Kattrin if she keeps drumming like that.
  • The peasants say they'll help the soldiers get her down.
  • They'll make sure her mother gets out of the village safe and sound, if only she'll stop drumming.
  • Then they try covering up her drumming with another noise. The peasant starts to chop wood.
  • She continues to drum wildly.
  • And then Kattrin starts to laugh.
  • They decide to set up a gun to shoot her off the roof. Lovely.
  • The peasant wife tells the soldiers to smash up the wagon, and the young peasant makes a feeble attempt to bust up MC's wagon.
  • Stopping and turning toward Kattrin, the young peasant shouts at her to keep drumming, otherwise the whole village will be killed.
  • A soldier starts to beat on him.
  • Kattrin cries, but keeps drumming.
  • The soldiers shoot Kattrin. She drums a few more times, then collapses.
  • The village hears the drumming and starts its defense. It worked!