Study Guide

Mother Night Summary

By Kurt Vonnegut

Mother Night Summary

Take a gander at our guy, Howard W. Campbell, Jr. It's fifteen years since the end of WWII, and Campbell is hanging out in a jail cell in Israel awaiting trial. The world thinks he's a Nazi, but he says nay. What's the real deal?

Well, if we take Campbell's word for it, he was a spy. This secret agent man says that he was hanging out in Germany only pretending to be a sleazy propagandist for the Third Reich. On the DL, he was delivering coded messages to the English-speaking world.


While in jail, Campbell occupies his time chatting with his guards and writing his memoirs. It's complicated, because Campbell isn't exactly comfortable with what he's done, and he admits to having fanned some pretty nasty beliefs in the fiery minds of those ready to be hateful and violent—you know, like Nazis and their sympathizers. On the flip side, he really enjoyed the creative parts of being a spy. It was great to be an actor on the big Nazi stage.

See, Campbell was originally a playwright. He's also married to a hot actress. Basically, he's a big ham, and as a sleazy radio host in Nazi Germany, he gets to be "onstage." Nowadays, people just go on reality TV, but back then, you apparently had to turn to more desperate measures.

The bulk of the narrative jump, jump, jumps around. Basically, we get flashbacks, memories, and seemingly random segues to fill in the gaps for us. As Campbell remembers his life, he has a series of revelations about it. And what is revealed is that everything has been a disappointment.

For disappointments one through infinity, read on.

Campbell thinks he can hide in New York City after the war. But his BFF Kraft, who's really a Soviet spy, leaks his whereabouts to a white-supremacist newspaper. The leader of this newspaper reunites Campbell with his long-lost wife, Helga. Campbell and Helga have a steamy night getting reacquainted.

But then there's a twist: Helga's not Helga. She's her little sister Resi.

Insert screamy-face emoji.

At first Campbell is freaked out: he's been sleeping with his wife's little sister, who's just been pretending to be his wife. Ew? Like, really? But then Campbell figures, Meh, good enough. There's just one problem: Resi is also a Soviet spy, and she and Kraft are trying to get Campbell to Moscow for their own political ends.

Campbell's Blue Fairy Godmother (that's Colonel Wirtanen, the dude who recruited Campbell as a U.S. spy) tells him about Kraft and Resi's secret plans. Campbell goes back to the basement bunker he's hiding in with Kraft, Resi, and a handful of Nazi sympathizers, even though Wirtanen has told him the building is about to get raided by the police.

They're raided by the police.

Kraft and the boys get arrested, Resi kills herself with a cyanide pill, and Campbell gets released (spy privileges). He feels empty inside. He walks back to his apartment, where a guy named O'Hare is waiting for him. O'Hare doesn't know that Campbell was a spy; he thinks Campbell was a total traitor, and he's ready to rumble for patriotism. Too bad he's drunk and unarmed: Campbell breaks his arm with fire-tongs, and that's the end of that.

There's only one thing left for Campbell to do: turn himself in to Israel. Why? We never know for sure. Campbell does seem to feel guilty about what he's done. He's also probably kind of sick of running all the time.

Anyway, the narrative swings back around, and we find ourselves once more thinking, along with Campbell, about the impending trial. Campbell's goose seems to be nearly cooked, since only Wirtanen knows he was a spy, and that's supposed to remain a secret. But at the last minute, Wirtanen breaks the rules and writes a letter clearing Campbell's name.

Campbell is a free man again. He decides to kill himself.

And, yeah, seriously—that's the end.

  • Front-Matter: Editor's Note

    • We start with a stealth pre-chapter-one chapter that sets up this novel as if it were a translation of Howard W. Campbell, Jr.'s German memoirs. Vonnegut claims he is the humble editor.
    • Vonnegut lets us know that in prepping this English translation, he has had a lot to deal with. More, in fact, than just issues of knowledge and dishonesty. Color us intrigued by this intrigue already.
    • Vonnegut points out that Campbell was once a playwright, and—uh oh—we can't trust a playwright, because, you know, lies on stage are playwrights' bread and butter. Low blow, Vonnegut.
    • No worries, though: Vonnegut follows up with an observation that such trickery is a way to truth. Go figure.
    • Back to the task at hand. Vonnegut tells us he's mostly just fixed spelling and grammar issues in these memoirs. He's also changed names—to protect the innocent, of course.
    • Whoa, though: Chapter 22 calls Vonnegut's own accuracy into doubt. Why? Well, here's the thing: Campbell wrote a ton of poems and was pretty particular about over-editing them in German—but not so much in English.
    • Vonnegut says he teamed up with one Mrs. Theodore Rowley and availed himself of her skills as a linguist and poet to give the reader a sense of what Campbell's work is like for an English-reading audience.
    • Vonnegut says he cut a section in Chapter 39 in which Campbell claims to have invented "I-Am-An-American-Day." Lawyers said the assertion had got to go. The rest of Chapter 39 is legit.
    • Oh, and Vonnegut also says he deleted a bunch of stuff from Chapter 23 because it's filled with sexy times, and Campbell apparently had a note asking for someone to clean that action up.
    • Vonnegut attributes the invention of the title of the memoir, Mother Night, to Campbell himself, who in turn got it from the term's inventor, the German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. There's a block quote from Goethe's Faust to clinch the reference.
    • Vonnegut also gives credit to Campbell for the dedication: Mata Hari "whored in the interest of espionage, and so did I" says Campbell, so she gets an honorable mention (Editor's Note.13).
    • Vonnegut says he'd rather dedicate it to a guy or gal in denial about their own evil. Hmmm, maybe even himself, he ponders.
    • In the end, Vonnegut says Campbell should be the dedicatee of this edition of his own memoir.
  • Chapter 1

    Tiglath-Pileser the Third…

    • His name is Howard W. Campbell, Jr., our narrator tells us, and he was born an American, got a rep as a Nazi, and chooses to be nationless. Hmmm… Might be worth a quick look at our take on the novel's epigraph really quick, right about now.
    • Campbell also lets us know he jotted this memoir down in 1961 for Tuvia Friedmann, Director of the Haifa Institute for the Documentation of War Criminals.
    • Friedmann wants as much info as possible on Nazi war crimes. As indication of this commitment, Friedmann has given Campbell a typewriter, stenographer services, and access to research assistants to help corroborate his story. Swank.
    • Campbell is writing this all behind bars in Israel.
    • Worth noting, Campbell says, is the type of typewriter: it was made in Germany during WWII and still supplies a key on the keyboard with a swastika on it. Jeepers.
    • Campbell says this key is "ancient history" (1.12) because no one uses such typewriters anymore, even though he heavily made use of the symbol in his own correspondence during his time in Germany.
    • Campbell describes his war crimes, the stones of his cell, and the collective memory of those around him surrounding WWII as "ancient history."
    • Campbell notes that the eighteen-year-old guarding his cell, Arnold Marx, knows nothing about the war. He was born in Israel, never left, and wants to be a lawyer.
    • Marx and his dad spend their weekends excavating the ruins of Hazor—a Canaanite city in Palestine that was invaded and burned down by an Israelite army, rebuilt by King Solomon, and then burned down again by Tiglath-pileser the Third in 732 BCE.
    • Marx tells all this to Campbell, who is unaware of this particular strain of ancient history. Marx offers to bring Campbell a book on it.
    • Campbell is appreciative, but he doesn't think he has time for "remarkable Assyrians" (1.34) like Tiglath-pileser, since he's got Germans on the brain. We're talking Paul Joseph Goebbels (Campbell's old boss) here.
    • Marx hasn't heard of the dude.
    • Campbell imagines himself being buried in dust of the Holy Land. What must be in the layers below him? Primitive kitchens, temples, a famous Assyrian?
  • Chapter 2

    Special Detail…

    • The guard who comes on duty at noon after Marx is Andor Gutman. He's nearly the same age as Campbell—48—and remembers the war well: he was a prisoner at Auschwitz.
    • Gutman was freed right before he would have been sent to a crematorium. He was a Sonderkommando, which means "special detail." At this concentration camp that was a euphemism for the job some prisoners had of herding other prisoners into the gas chambers and then carrying away their bodies after they were killed. Yeahhhh, no—just no.
    • Gutman says some prisoners even volunteered for that position.
    • Campbell wonders why and what even. Gutman tells him that he should write a book on that—Gutman would pay top dollar to read it.
    • Campbell wants to know if Gutman has any guesses as to why other prisoners would actually volunteer for that. Nope, but we get a twist: Gutman was one of the volunteers—and he has no idea why he did it.
    • Gutman walks away from Campbell after revealing this piece of information.
    • Gutman comes back. He tells Campbell that they played music over the loudspeakers at Auschwitz. Beautiful music that would be interrupted with announcements.
    • One such interruption was: "Corpse-carriers to the guardhouse" (2.22). This announcement was delivered in a sing-song manner.
    • After a while, Gutman says, this announcement made it sound like a good job. Here's how his regret-revelation to Campbell kind of goes down:
    • Campbell: I get that.
    • Gutman: Seriously? Because I don't. I'm ashamed. I'll always be ashamed. It was a shameful thing I did.
    • Campbell: No shame, man.
    • Gutman: Nope, shame. I don't want to talk about this again.
  • Chapter 3


    • Guard number three is Arpad Kovacs. He shows up at 6pm.
    • Kovacs is always excited to read what Campbell wrote that day, exclaiming things like, Yeah, sock it to those briquets!
    • Umm what?
    • Okay, first off, Campbell tells us, Kovacs doesn't really read his stuff. He just makes assumptions about what Campbell is writing.
    • Clarification numero dos: briquets are compact coal pieces that are easy to carry and burn. Kovacs is calling those who went quietly to the concentration camps briquets. Jeez.
    • Turns out Kovacs sympathizes with Campbell's position because when the Nazis came for him, he fled and—gulp—joined the S.S. in Hungary.
    • Campbell asks Kovacs if he ever heard Campbell's anti-Semitic radio broadcasts. (Campbell was a propagandist for the Nazis.) Kovacs hasn't, so Campbell gives him a transcript to read.
    • Kovacs is disappointed in Campbell: he thinks the hate-speech he used was weak-sauce. He tells Campbell that in his division of the S.S. this tripe would have got Campbell killed as almost Jew-friendly.
    • Kovacs is complicated. He was feared as a super-scary Aryan leader, was never found out to be an undercover Jew leaking information, and was even congratulated by Adolf Eichmann for sending 14 S.S. officers suspected for said leaks of information to execution.
    • The biggest regret Kovacs has? Not knowing how important Eichmann was to the Nazis.
    • Why? Because he would have killed him.
  • Chapter 4

    Leather Straps…

    • The midnight-to-6am guard on duty is Bernard Mengel.
    • Mengel's a tough cookie: he saved his own life playing dead, and the German soldier who pulled out three of his teeth in search of gold fillings never suspected Mengel wasn't a corpse. Gruesome? Yes. Humbling? 100 percent.
    • According to Mengel, Campbell tosses and turns all night in his sleep. He thinks this means Campbell feels remorse.
    • Unlike Rudolf Franz Hoess. That guy was a piece of work. He was in charge of the gas chambers at Auschwitz, but he slept soundly.
    • Mengel helped hang the dude. Not by filling out paperwork or sharing testimony, Campbell informs us. Nope. Mengel was the guy to tie the leather strap around his ankles. (No, er, death-kicks from Hoess.)
    • What was going on in Mengel's mind when he stepped up to the proverbial plate? Campbell wants to know, too:
    • Campbell: Bet that felt good, huh? Getting to help hang him in the end?
    • Mengel: Meh. I felt what everyone felt by the end of the war.
    • Campbell: Translation?
    • Mengel: I felt nothing. His legs needed tying with a leather strap. I did that. Later, my suitcase was broken; tied that with another leather strap. Tying leather straps is all about the same.
    • Gulp.
  • Chapter 5

    "Last Full Measure…"

    • Campbell tells us that he also met Hoess once. During the war, they were both at a swinging shindig in Warsaw.
    • Hoess heard that Campbell was pretty snazzy when it came to putting pen to paper and making stuff up. Hoess always wished he was a creative type.
    • What is Campbell even doing in Warsaw, he rhetorically asks us? Well, it's because of his very talent with words.
    • Campbell's boss, Goebbels, wants him to write a sick play. Sick as in straight-up messed up.
    • So what's the story? Campbell is asked to dramatize the killing of Jews in a Warsaw ghetto. Goebbels wants to stage it every year in—ahem—honor—vomit—of the German soldiers who died in the process of killing others.
    • The play never gets written. Campbell is relieved that it doesn't get written and added to his list of crimes. He admits that he would have written it, though, if there had been time.
    • Instead, all these guys have is a working title: Last Full Measure.
    • Goebbels wants to know where Campbell came up with this title, since it's peachy keen to him.
    • Campbell: Abe Lincoln said it in the Gettysburg address. (We Shmooped a line from this important piece of historical writing here.)
    • Goebbels: I like it. Can I show Hitler?
    • Campbell: Knock your socks off.
    • Goebbels: Great!...Wait…Abe Lincoln? Abraham Lincoln? This guy wasn't Jewish, was he?
    • Campbell: Wasn't.
    • Goebbels: Sure? Because I'd be really embarrassed if he were, and I showed Hitler this.
    • Campbell: Naw. I'm sure his parents didn't even realize it was a Jewish name. If they did, they'd probably have named him Stan.
    • Goebbels: Phew.
    • Turns out Hitler loves the title. Vomit. Again.
    • Campbell segues not so neatly to an observation that he doesn't really think about dudes from the war. More often than not he thinks—and dreams—about the women: his wife and her sister. They're gone now.
    • While he's taking to Mengel the guard about his dream-talk, we learn that Campbell has spent some time in NYC.
    • Mengel thinks NYC must be heaven.
    • Campbell calls it worse than hell: purgatory.
  • Chapter 6


    • Campbell's purgatory in New York lasted for fifteen years.
    • After the war, he skedaddled out of Germany and landed in Greenwich Village. He was in hiding.
    • Dude rented a rat-filled attic apartment overlooking a patch of grass between houses where kids would play hide-and-seek.
    • At the end of each play-day, the kids would call out the all-clear to get out of hiding because it was time to go home.
    • Nobody called to Campbell to tell him he was free to come out of hiding.
  • Chapter 7


    • Here are the facts.
    • Campbell was born in Schenectady, New York in February, a couple days after Valentine's Day, in 1912.
    • Dude's dad was an engineer for GE who traveled a lot and looked at a picture book of WWI in his spare time.
    • Campbell was not allowed to look at this book. He did, anyway—a lot. It was gruesome, full of bodies, pain, and blood.
    • Campbell's mom played the cello and was kind of morbid.
    • One time, Mom poured rubbing alcohol into a bowl, added salt, turned off the lights, and lit it on fire. Mother and son looked like corpses in the yellow light.
    • Mom never really spoke to Campbell again after that.
    • The fam all moved to Berlin, Germany, when Campbell's dad got transferred for work.
    • Campbell grew up and married the chief of police's daughter, Helga.
    • Dude's parents left Germany when the war started in 1939. Campbell stayed.
    • Campbell became a propagandist.
    • Campbell was caught by Lieutenant Bernard B. O'Hare of the American Third Army. This was the same team that discovered the death camp at Ohrdruf.
    • The Third Army took Campbell to Ohrdruf to look at the carnage. There's a photo of Campbell looking up at the German guards hanged at the death camp.
  • Chapter 8

    Auf Wiedersehen…

    • So, um, quick question: why doesn't Campbell just get hanged with the other traitors and criminals after WWII?
    • Rumor has it—according to Campbell, at least—that he's actually an undercover agent for the U.S. Whoa—potential game-changer here. Tell us more.
    • Okay, here's the thing: Campbell has no idea what the codes were, but he assures us he was given instructions to broadcast some codes to the U.S. from Berlin via vile hate-speech.
    • What kind of codes? You know: coughs, pregnant pauses, etc. The stuff of pre-texting, middle-school cheating during an exam. Interesting.
    • The U.S. government doesn't reveal this to the world, though. They just help to get the case against Campbell dropped.
    • Anyway, living in New York, most people seem to forget about Campbell.
    • The closest encounter Campbell has is when he goes to a doctor who happens to be Jewish.
    • As the young doc is bandaging his thumb, his mom mentions that Campbell's name is famous. (FYI: the doctor operates out of the home he shares with his mom, and they live in the same apartment building as Campbell.)
    • Campbell shrugs it off. The doctor doesn't want it to be a thing.
    • The doc's mom wants to make it a thing. She remembers. She asks Campbell—in German—if he speaks German.
    • Campbell: Nope, but Auf Wiedersehen, lol.
  • Chapter 9

    Enter My Blue Fairy Godmother…

    • It's 1938: the year Major Frank Wirtanen recruits Campbell to be a spy.
    • Campbell's 26 and has only been married to Helga, the super-hot German actress, for a month when Wirtanen approaches him in a park.
    • The initial conversation reveals that Campbell has been living in Germany so long that he isn't aware of hip new ways of saying things like "beeswax" when you mean "business."
    • Wirtanen appeals to Campbell's sense of romance—based on reading Campbell's plays written up as medieval quest narratives—and his hammy-ness. Campbell would love a chance to act, himself.
    • Campbell refuses. At first.
    • Wirtanen (nicknamed Campbell's blue fairy godmother because after the war, nobody in the U.S. seems to acknowledge he exists) gives Campbell the call-and-response code words for when he meets his secret agent contact: 1) Make new friends. 2) But keep the old.
    • Ummmm, these are lines from a Brownies song.
  • Chapter 10


    • Campbell never tells Helga he's a spy. Why? Because it would make her world lame.
    • Helga loves Campbell unconditionally, and they live in a bubble world of their own. Their bed is the limit of their country.
    • Outside, Helga and Campbell say crazy, Nazi-approved things. Alone together, they're love-bugs.
    • Helga goes missing while she's entertaining the troops in Crimea.
    • Campbell pays private detectives to find her. No dice.
    • After Helga's death, Campbell has nothing.
    • Campbell's blue fairy godmother was right: he had warned Campbell that in the end he would have nothing. The U.S. would only be able to keep him alive. No one would ever know he was a spy.
  • Chapter 11

    War Surplus…

    • Despite being a disappointment to his folks (he's a traitor, a liar, yadda, yadda, yadda), they do not disown Campbell, so he gets a lot—like a lot—of money from their investments.
    • Nonetheless, when in NYC, Campbell only lives on $4 a day and buys everything from U.S. military surplus stores.
    • One day, Campbell buys a tool to whittle wood. One day, he whittles the wood of his broomstick into a set of chess pieces. It's the only thing that has made him excited since his wife died. Before that, he felt exactly zero things.
    • Once the chess set is completed, Campbell knocks on his neighbor's door. Kraft, his neighbor, has four locks, is secretly a Russian spy, and is a former chess master.
    • Campbell knows none of this at the time.
    • Campbell and Kraft become fast friends.
    • Almost everything Kraft tells Campbell is a lie. His real name is Iona Potapov.
    • There's some real talk, though: Kraft reveals he is an alcoholic.
    • Kraft is super grateful for the development of AA. He also uses it as a way to spy on the U.S.
    • Kraft is a super good friend to Campbell. Spoiler alert: he also uses their friendship to throw Campbell under the bus as a way to further help Russia.
  • Chapter 12

    Strange Things in My Mailbox…

    • At first, Campbell lies to Kraft about his past, but he later spills the beans because friendship.
    • Looking back, Campbell can't tell which of the things Kraft said were real and which were were fake.
    • Did he really think Campbell was a great a writer? Yes, Campbell decides, that must have been true. Convenient.
    • One night, Kraft says Campbell needs to get writing again. He says Campbell needs a muse. He needs a woman in his life. Kissy-facing it is the answer.
    • Campbell's not into it, because he's still heartbroken over Helga. He goes to check his mail instead.
    • Usually, there's nothing much—just interest checks from his various stocks.
    • This time is different, though. First, there's a creepy white-pride newspaper called The White Christian Minuteman that trash-talks blacks, Asians, and Jews. Great.
    • Second, there's a letter from O'Hare. Yes, that O'Hare—the one who captured Campbell in Germany. He knows where Campbell lives, wishes he were dead, and is coming to pay him a visit.
    • Oh, and by the way, O'Hare's totally sent copies of this letter to all major news outlets, not to mention—wait for it—FBI head J. Edgar Hoover.
    • The heck? How did both this newspaper and O'Hare hear about Campbell?
    • Oh. The newspaper has a little blurb on Campbell the "hero." It even reveals that Campbell lives alone in a cramped attic apartment in NYC.
  • Chapter 13

    The Reverend Doctor Lionel Jason David Jones, D.D.S., D.D. …

    • Biography time.
    • Campbell tells us he's indebted to the resources of the Haifa Institute in providing him the material for this bio.
    • Reverend Jones was not a war criminal, but the institute kept tabs on him nonetheless.
    • Here's what we know.
    • Jones comes from a family of dentists.
    • Jones was studying to be a dentist, too, but, umm, there was a hiccup: in all of the answers to his exam questions on teeth, he would start off fine but then go off on a crazy tangent writing things like Jews, Blacks, Catholics, Asians all have bad teeth and jaws and that means they're bad and I don't like them because I'm dumb.
    • Okay, Jones didn't write that he, himself, was dumb, but his examiners were sort of like, What even is this?
    • The examiners gave Jones second and third chances at school. Then they found guns under his bed. They said please leave, so he did. No degree awarded.
    • Jones started work for a funeral home, did well, invented some chemicals for preserving the dead, and married his boss's wife when the hubby died.
    • Jones and wife were happy. While he was married, he didn't say scary, kill-everyone things.
    • Mrs. Jones died.
    • Jones started the newspaper The White Christian Minuteman. It made no money, and he lost all his other money in the stock market crash of 1929.
    • This is not good.
    • Jones answers an ad in another newspaper: they need a new president for a school that trains funeral directors to embalm the dead.
    • Sweet.
    • Jones gets the gig and again marries the widowed wife that was left behind. Precious. Gag.
    • The school is in debt. Jones changes it to a new institution called the Western Hemisphere University of the Bible, and he sells Ph.Ds. in divinity for $80—no classes, no teachers, just fake cred. What a stand-up guy.
    • Jones gives himself a Ph.D., too. Why not?
    • Dude starts up his pet project again, but this time his newspaper looks swanky as all get-out. Surprise: Jones's got funding from Hitler and articles from all over the place.
    • Campbell thinks it's even possible that Jones published some of the propaganda Campbell had to create for Germany.
    • Jones is arrested in 1942 for being a butt. Official charge is that he's actively working against the ideals that the U.S. Armed Forces are fighting for.
    • Jones goes to jail. He gets out in seven years a very rich man because his two inventions have made bank.
    • Jones goes back to his gross newspaper.
    • Why is Campbell writing out this bio? To show 1) that Jones was nuts and dumb as a box of rocks, and 2) that Campbell—unlike Jones—is not either of those things.
    • On the other hand, Campbell's bosses were also a couple of Joneses, but Campbell followed orders anyway.
  • Chapter 14

    View Down a Stairwell…

    • A week after Campbell discovered these documents in his mailbox, Jones paid him a visit.
    • Campbell had tried to preempt him with a visit to the newspaper, where he tried to get Jones to print a retraction. It was a no-go.
    • Campbell has been a receiving a lot of <3-you-mucho fan mail from hate-filled people since the publication of that newspaper story. One woman even sends him money and wishes him a spot in heaven.
    • Then, one day, Jones visits while Kraft is painting a portrait of Campbell. (Campbell at this point still has zero idea that Kraft was the crafty culprit who leaked his whereabouts to Jones and even—gasp—suggested that Jones notify O'Hare.)
    • Kraft and Campbell hear people coming up the stairs in the hall chanting something.
    • Campbell looks out and sees four people: Jones, his bodyguard, his secretary, and a woman.
    • The bodyguard is August Krapptauer. He was part of a German-American hate-group that collaborated with the KKK.
    • The secretary is an excommunicated priest named "Father" Keeley who was part of a gun club organized by Nazis.
    • The woman is not yet known to us. Mystery. Intrigue.
    • Campbell lets us know that a lot of anti-Semitic rhetoric Keeley and Krapptauer repeated was actually stuff Campbell made up and shared on his radio broadcasts during the war.
    • Awkward sauce.
    • Campbell sees that Jones has a hand bejeweled with rings. One is a gift from Robert Sterling Wilson, known as "The Black Fuehrer of Harlem." In 1942, Wilson had been imprisoned for spying on the U.S. for Japan.
    • Once the group reaches the apartment, Jones says: I've got a surpriiiiiise for youuuuuuu.
    • Campbell: I already saw the newspaper.
    • Jones: No, my pet. An even better surprise.
    • At this point, Campbell tells us, he is about to put Jones in his place, denounce his vile beliefs, and reveal that the two of them actually never had a thing in common. But Jones speaks before Campbell can.
    • Jones: I've brought you your wife.
  • Chapter 15

    The Time Machine…

    • Campbell tells us that if this is Helga, she will be forty-five. He mentally runs through what her life must have been like once she was captured by the Russians. He imagines she was put to work in a labor camp.
    • Campbell's response to Jones is pretty much: I call shenanigans.
    • Jones: See for yourself. We've totes got your girl.
    • Campbell walks past the three men down the stairs until he reaches Helga.
    • The woman's hair is all white, but other than that, Helga looks exactly the same.
  • Chapter 16

    A Well-Preserved Woman…

    • Campbell and Helga weep and hug their way up to Campbell's apartment.
    • Keeley cries.
    • Krapptauer feels proud of this moment.
    • Kraft chomps his pipe and holds back tears.
    • Campbell wants to know the deets.
    • Jones is giddy to tell: it was a beautiful coincidence.
    • Here's the lowdown.
    • Step 1: Jones broadcasts to the world—errrr, to all those who subscribe to a hate-newspaper—that Campbell is alive.
    • Step 2: A devoted reader writes to Jones saying that Helga has just turned up in West Berlin as a refugee.
    • Step 3: Ta-da.
    • Amidst this new info, Campbell asks Helga (in German): Why didn't you contact me?
    • Helga (in English): I didn't know if you'd want to see me.
    • Campbell: You're all I ever want to see.
    • Sidebar: Okay, not going to lie, but we're experiencing major internal conflict about how much we love Campbell and Helga's love even while we're super grossed out by all the Nazi supporters all over the place. Life—and literature—is totes complicated, y'all.
    • Helga tells her story. It's not pretty, involving rape, prison, labor camps, and a lot of abuse. She eventually got to Dresden and headed to West Berlin through East Berlin.
    • Campbell asks how Helga got money for travel to the U.S.
    • Jones: People who love you and your work paid for it. You're their hero.
    • Gulp. It's a guilt-and-conflict-of-interests-palooza up in here.
  • Chapter 17

    August Krapptauer Goes to Valhalla…

    • Proud as a peacock, Krapptauer decides to be Krapp-tastic: he runs downstairs to grab Helga's luggage and lug it back up to Campbell's attic apartment.
    • This is dumb.
    • Why?
    • Krapptauer is elderly. He's got a bum heart. He arrives panting and flushed.
    • Jones tells Krapptauer: You should have let Wilson bring the bags.
    • (Wilson was the spy mentioned in Chapter 14. He's now Jones's driver.)
    • Krapptauer: It's an honor to do this for the wife of the man who served Hitler.
    • Krapptauer drops dead.
    • Slow clap. Too soon?
    • Twist: The gang calls Dr. Epstein, the young Jewish doctor who lives in the building (who was mentioned in chapter 8), to examine him. While he's there, Jones and Keeley keep quiet about their anti-Semitism. Charming.
    • After Dr. Epstein leaves to call an ambulance, Jones and Keeley tell Campbell that Krapptauer was his biggest fan. He even built a radio in prison so that he could listen to Campbell's broadcasts.
    • Krapptauer was also starting another hate group called The Iron Guard of the White Sons of the American Constitution, which focused on recruiting children. Krapptauer wanted Campbell to join it.
    • Wilson shows up. He's not a happy camper, and we get a look at the very convoluted life he leads with Jones.
    • Wilson is not keen on Campbell, and while he drives Jones and serves him at home, he spends all his days talking about how blacks will rise up and take over their white oppressors. He imagines teaming up with Japan to develop a hydrogen bomb for retaliation.
    • Campbell: Who gets bombed first?
    • Wilson: China.
    • Well, this is a mess.
  • Chapter 18

    Werner Noth's Beautiful Blue Vase…

    • Finally, the happy couple has some privacy.
    • Campbell and Helga are shy around each other now, though.
    • Helga asks about Campbell's political leanings, and he tells her to ask about his taste in music instead.
    • Helga and Campbell are still new to each other, but both are committed to becoming each other's squeeze again.
    • Helga asks if Campbell knows what happened to her family. She knows her father has passed away, but she's unsure about her mom and baby sis.
    • Campbell's got no news, but he thinks back to a couple days before Valentine's Day in 1945. That was the last time he saw Helga's family.
    • Flashback time.
    • It's a frigid day, and Campbell steals a motorcycle to ride to his father-in-law's place near Berlin.
    • Campbell's wearing a uniform he designed for a troop he invented called The Free American Corps. It's for any POWs who want to defect from the Allied cause and join Germany to fight Russia.
    • When Campbell gets to the house, there are moving wagons, and a group of Polish and Russian slave women being shepherded by a man from Holland are carrying belongings out of the house and loading them onto the wagons.
    • A tired, zoned-out woman almost drops a blue vase.
    • Werner Noth (Campbell's pops-in-law) throws a major fit after taking the vase from this woman. He calls her lazy and stupid.
    • The Dutch guy and his muscle (that's a dude with a gun) come by. They don't attack the woman physically, but they punish her by having her stand aside and watch the other women carry things.
    • Translation: she's being excluded from civilization. She's an outsider. She's alone.
    • Oof.
    • Campbell tells Noth he came to say goodbye.
    • Crickets.
    • Because he's going to go to the front lines.
    • Crickets.
    • And after this goodbye, they may never see each other again.
    • Crick—
    • Man, that's cold.
    • So, what's up with the move in the first place? Well, we don't get specifics as to why, but we're told Noth is hanging back at the ranch, while his wife and youngest daughter, Resi, retreat to stay with his brother living near Cologne. We're guessing this is because there are Russian troops 20 miles from Berlin.
    • Oh, wait. We almost forgot that this chapter is also the story of that one time that Noth asked Campbell for a personal favor.
    • Noth: Be a dear, Campbell, and shoot Resi's dog for me? It can't go on the trip. She loves the thing too much, and I could never make it happy. She knows its fate is the gun, so no need to fret about her reaction.
    • Campbell: Sure thing.
    • Noth tops this request off by telling Campbell he's always hated him. Gee, thanks.
    • Because of his hatred, Noth listened to all of Campbell's broadcasts. Hatred breeds obsession, apparently.
    • What Noth has learned is that even if it suddenly, somehow, super randomly were to turn out that Campbell is a spy, Noth wouldn't give a hoot.
    • Ummmm, why?
    • Because, Noth explains, Campbell couldn't have served the Allied forces better than he served the Axis powers.
    • How does he figure?
    • Well, here's the thing: Campbell's propaganda was so over the top that even if Noth were to start to feel guilty for being a Nazi sympathizer, Campbell's words eased his conscience and allowed him to persevere.
    • Oh, that's just ugly, right there.
    • Anyway, back to that woman who dropped stuff. Noth goes to talk to the dazed woman standing to the side and tries to get her to understand that the other women are carrying things properly. Can't she see that? No? Fine. Be a numb, useless person.
    • Yeah, Noth's a swell guy. #sarcasm
  • Chapter 19

    Little Resi Noth…

    • Resi is in the music room petting her pup. She is bundled up because there's no heat in the house, and the dog is now bald and swollen from lack of food in wartime.
    • When she finds out that Campbell is the one who will perform the doggy execution, Resi pushes the little guy off her lap.
    • This ten-year-old girl also reveals three key things: 1) She's a nihilist who thinks we're all better off dead anyway because nothing matters. 2) She's in love with Campbell. 3) She believes she'll die shortly.
    • Campbell takes the dog outside. Three people watch him shoot it: Resi through a window in the music room, her mom through a widow on the second floor, and the armed soldier monitoring the Polish and Russian slave women.
    • The dog dies quickly, and then the soldier comes by to see what's up. He goes on to tell Campbell about all sorts of other bullet wounds he's seen.
    • The soldier then asks Campbell if he's going to bury the dog; if Campbell doesn't, the soldier is sure someone will eat it.
    • We're not sure if this is a warning or a Meh, somebody'll eat it, so no biggie kind of comment. We also know we don't want to know.
  • Chapter 20

    Hangwomen for the Hangmen of Berlin…

    • This chapter is the story of when Campbell found out how Noth died.
    • Campbell is waiting for his turn to get a haircut. To pass the time, he's reading an X-rated magazine.
    • The cover has the title "Hangwomen for the Hangmen of Berlin." False advertising: the cover makes it seem like the article will be about scantily clad women hanging people. It's actually about poor men who hanged an assortment of men and women.
    • That's when Campbell recognizes that one of the hanged men is Noth.
    • Apparently, a group of Polish and Russian imprisoned laborers hanged Noth and the others.
    • The article and photos are provided by Ian Westlake, a POW from England. Westlake goes on to write that Noth was no better and no worse than any other German police chief at the time—but that's not a ringing endorsement.
    • During the hanging, Noth was revived eight times, and died on the ninth go without dignity and with an erection.
    • The next page of the magazine has a naked woman on it.
    • The barber calls to Campbell—he's up.
  • Chapter 21

    My Best Friend…

    • Campbell feels the need to explain about the motorcycle he stole. It belonged to his best bud in Germany, Heinz Schildlnecht. They played ping-pong, drank together, and shared their darkest secrets.
    • Big secret shared by Heinz: I heart my motorbike more than my dead wife.
    • Campbell: Say it ain't so.
    • Heinz: It's so.
    • The evidence? Heinz wouldn't quit smoking for his wife, and he even sold all of her stuff for cigarettes. When someone offered him 4,000 cigarettes for the bike, he quit smoking.
    • Turns out Heinz's wife was kind of a grump who valorized Nazis and their success, so Campbell wasn't too fond of her.
    • Anyway, Campbell asks Heinz if he can borrow the motorcycle to visit Noth.
    • Heinz: What's mine is yours.
    • Campbell zooms away, and Heinz never sees either Campbell or his bike again.
    • We're not sure if this cleared anything up for us.
    • Here's what's on the bonus track to this chapter:
    • 1) Campbell lets us know he's asked the Haifa Institute for information about where Heinz ended up. Answer: Ireland.
    • 2) Campbell gives a loving shout-out to his friend Heinz. (Recall that this novel is supposed to be Campbell writing his memoir.)
  • Chapter 22

    The Contents of an Old Trunk…

    • Campbell proposes that he and Helga spend the night in a hotel and then look for new lodging the next day.
    • Helga's down, but first she has a present for Campbell: she's brought back a trunk filled with all of his manuscripts.
    • Helga found the trunk in the old theater where they used to work.
    • Helga and Campbell read some of his poetry aloud.
    • Kraft barges in looking for his pipe. He's panicked and starts looking through their belongings for it.
    • Campbell and Helga silently bond over how irritated they are at Kraft for invading their alone time.
  • Chapter 23

    Chapter Six Hundred and Forty-Three…

    • One of the preserved documents from the trunk is Memoirs of a Monogamous Casanova. It's Campbell's diary of all the sex he and Helga had for two years until the war started.
    • The diary functioned as both a record and a component of Campbell and Helga's sex life.
    • The epigraph to Campbell's book is William Blake's poem "The Question Answered."
    • After their night at the hotel together, Campbell writes chapter 643 to this memoir. He adds a note to the editor of the memoir he's writing now that sections that might be too steamy should be elided with an ellipsis.
    • There are a lot of ellipses.
    • Campbell and Helga are super chipper the next day. Number one on their to-do list: buy a giant bed.
    • Hold up: all the shops are closed. It looks like there's a national holiday going on, but Campbell doesn't know which holiday it is.
    • Campbell and Helga ask a guy on the street who's sweeping what day it is.
    • It's Veterans Day, November 11. Campbell is bothered by this, because November 11 used to be Armistice Day. He's frustrated that the holiday that used to honor WWI dead is now honoring the living.
    • Helga asks if Campbell hates America.
    • Campbell neither hates nor loves America. Borders are a fiction, he says.
    • Helga tells Campbell he's changed.
    • Campbell: It's normal to change in war.
    • Helga: What if you've changed so much that you can't love me anymore?
    • Campbell: That's not possible. Our souls are connected.
    • Helga: You truly feel that?
    • Campbell: 100%.
    • Helga: Nothing could change that feeling?
    • Campbell: Not even a little bit.
    • Helga: Okay, I have to tell you something.
    • Campbell: Knock my socks off.
    • Helga: Psych! I'm not Helga. I'm Resi.
  • Chapter 24

    A Polygamous Casanova…

    • Okay, it's time to process what just went down.
    • Campbell and Helga—gah, we mean Resi—head into a noisy cafeteria for a private chat.
    • Campbell is freaked out. He and Resi decide to keep playing Campbell and Helga, anyway.
    • Folks, that's gross.
    • Anyway.
    • Campbell does notice that Resi isn't fully Helga, and that she has her own personality.
    • Well, duh.
    • Resi wants Campbell to write a play about her like he did for Helga.
    • The two decide that Resi doesn't need to bleach her hair white anymore.
  • Chapter 25

    The Answer to Communism…

    • Resi and Campbell go barhopping.
    • While Resi's in the powder room, a man sidles up to Campbell and decides to tell him what the answer to communism is.
    • We weren't aware there was a question, but cool.
    • Apparently, the answer is—ahem—Moral Rearmament. We are not given a clear definition of what this is, but apparently the movement thinks unconditional love and complete purity is where it's at.
    • Resi and Campbell mosey to another bar, where another dude makes some tall claims about satisfying seven women all in a single night.
  • Chapter 26

    In Which Private Irving Buchanon and Some Others Are Memorialized…

    • Resi and Campbell arrive back at the apartment after dark.
    • Someone has drawn a swastika on Campbell's nameplate.
    • While Resi and Campbell consider the merits of moving to another country to escape the new Nazi fan party Campbell's got, a man walks up to them looking for Campbell.
    • The man holds up a newspaper that has a photo of Campbell staring at the gallows in Ohrdruf.
    • According to the article, the government of Israel is ready to snag Campbell for trial.
    • Before that happens, this guy wants to give Campbell a going-away present.
    • In the form of a beating. One blow offered per friend of the stranger who was killed in Germany during WWII.
    • After a kick to the head knocks Campbell out, the stranger leaves behind a noose.
    • Nice parting shot there, buddy.
    • Here's a fictive fact falling outside of the actual narrative we're in: Lazlo Szombathy, the custodian, finds this noose in the trashcan and later hangs himself with it. Dang.
    • Anyway, Campbell comes to in a room filled with Nazi banners, cheap Christmas decorations, and a pic of Hitler.
    • Campbell's in his undies on a leopard-print bedspread. We couldn't make this stuff up, folks.
    • When Campbell sees the bedspread, he makes a lame joke about a group of people from southwestern Africa colonized by the Dutch.
  • Chapter 27

    Finders Keepers…

    • Campbell has photo proof of Szombathy's suicide provided from the Haifa Institute.
    • The order of operations was that Campbell got beat up, and the next night, Szombathy hanged himself. Yikes.
    • Here's what we know about Szombathy. He killed his brother in Hungary and was disillusioned with the American Dream. He also claimed he had a cure for cancer, but nobody would listen to him.
    • Back to Campbell. Ten-cent bet about where he woke up in leopard print. Go!
    • Yep, spot-on: he's in the basement of the building where Jones runs his shady newspaper. How'd you guess?
    • No, really, how? Because the rest of us had to find out from Resi that she felt there was nowhere else to turn when Campbell got his butt kicked.
    • Our happy couple is in hiding because Israel wants to extradite Campbell for a criminal trial.
    • On top of that, the whole gang is here.
    • Well, at least Kraft is.
    • Kraft is target practicing. For funsies.
    • Resi tells Campbell that they're all going to run away together.
  • Chapter 28


    • Campbell visits Kraft in the makeshift shooting gallery. It's a long corridor with a grotesque caricature of a Jewish person on it.
    • Kraft doesn't miss.
    • Campbell tells us he drew this target for the Nazis in 1941, and it was a hit. He figured he'd make something so ridiculous that people would see that it was insane.
    • It turns out that people took Campbell's madness for truth.
    • This is why we can't have nice things.
    • Campbell then tells Kraft he can't go with them. It's basically suicide for Kraft if he joins them.
    • Kraft says he and Campbell are BFFs forever, and without Campbell, Kraft has no human in his life to care about.
    • Awwww.
  • Chapter 29

    Adolf Eichmann and Me…

    • Two: the number of days Campbell stays in the basement recovering.
    • One: the number of new outfits Campbell is given because his own were seriously messed up when he was beaten.
    • Three: the number of wheels—erm, people—headed out in the great escape from the U.S. (Hint: it's Campbell, Resi, and Kraft.)
    • Zero: the number of conversations in which Campbell gets a say in where they're going.
    • And that concludes our Exposition-by-Numbers portion of this chapter.
    • Up next is a quick survey of newspaper headlines in which we learn that Israel wants people to know that Campbell's propaganda leads to murder, Campbell's citizenship is in question, the U.S. government is surprised to learn Campbell is stateside, and O'Hare wants to be the one to gut—ahem—apprehend him.
    • We also get a fun and fancy ekphrastic depiction of a beatific portrait taken by Arndt Klopfer. This guy was a photographer in Germany who photographed all the Nazis with halos around their heads.
    • Turns out that Campbell got his portrait taken just after Adolf Eichmann did in 1941. This was the first time Campbell met Eichmann.
    • Encounter numero dos occurred two weeks before Campbell wrote the chapter we are currently Shmooping.
    • Campbell and Eichmann were both in Tel Aviv. They were both prisoners. Their guards wanted to set up a meet and greet.
    • Eichmann was straight-up ebullient, and he just kept grinning like a baby. He was excited to meet a "writer" who could tell his story.
    • Not guilty in the least about the millions of murders he caused, Eichmann got seriously miffed when Campbell jokingly asked if he was going to plead "just following orders"—because, turns out, he was. Awkward.
    • The grim mood passed because they talked shop for a minute about the best way to be a productive writer.
    • Once in Jerusalem, Campbell gets a secret note from Eichmann. He wants to know if he should get a literary agent.
  • Chapter 30

    Don Quixote…

    • Here's the plan: hightail it to Mexico City.
    • Campbell tells Resi he may even start writing again once there.
    • Resi is ecstatic and hopes she is partly to credit for this possibility—it is true, isn't it?
    • Campbell: Totes, babe.
    • Resi: Now we need new fake names.
    • Kraft: Campbell should be Don Quixote. Resi, that makes you Dulcinea, and me Sancho Panza.
    • No one comments on this.
    • Part two of plan: meet up with Arndt Klopfer. Yes, that Arndt Klopfer.
    • One more thing: can Campbell deliver a eulogy for Krapptauer at the weekly meeting of the Iron Guard? Cool, thanks. Kisses, Jones.
    • Keeley: Oh. Great. The theme is, "His Truth Goes Marching On."
  • Chapter 31

    His Truth Goes Marching On…

    • The following are the super important meeting minutes for the weekly meeting of the Iron Guard of the White Sons of the American Constitution.
    • Blarg, say that three times fast. We dare you.
    • Campbell looks around and sees that everyone there is a young, blond dude over six feet tall. Most are from out of town.
    • Jones points out that they all have their moms sew a buttonhole into their lapels to designate their allegiance to the group, secret-spy-style.
    • Resi speaks to the group about communism behind the Iron Curtain.
    • Jones is not pleased that Resi isn't blaming all the Jews for all the things at that moment, so he interrupts her and says what he wants to hear.
    • Then the lights go out.
    • Jones is planning a surprise.
    • That surprise is an overdramatic intro during which everyone sits in the dark while Jones talks about the dark times during WWII, when only Campbell spoke the truth.
    • Then Jones plays a recording of one of Campbell's old broadcasts.
    • It's horrid.
    • Campbell-as-narrator cuts in at this moment to say he didn't believe any of the muck he was shoveling for others.
    • Okay, back to the narrative. Still in the dark, somebody puts a note in Campbell's pocket.
    • The lights come on.
    • Campbell gives a speech about Krapptauer laden with double-speak.
    • In the bathroom, Campbell reads the note. It tells him to run away. Run all the way across the street. And find me. Xoxo, your blue fairy godmother, Colonel Frank Wirtanen.
  • Chapter 32


    • The one thing Campbell needs—his lawyer, Alvin Dobrowitz, tells him—is the one thing he can't get: a witness to his meetings with Wirtanen.
    • Campbell's only met Wirtanen three times: before the war, after the war, and after Campbell delivered Krapptauer's eulogy.
    • This is the story of that second meeting. Are you excited? We're excited.
    • Post-war and post-Campbell's capture by O'Hare, Campbell and Wirtanen meet up at a school in Wiesbaden.
    • Campbell was spirited away from O'Hare's custody by a random soldier and brought to Wirtanen.
    • The dudes talk.
    • Wirtanen tells Campbell things.
    • Campbell was Wirtanen's best soldier-baby, as he likes to think of his worker bees. How so? Campbell was loyal and alive.
    • It turns out that Campbell unknowingly delivered a coded message saying Helga was captured.
    • This new info makes Campbell feel icky as all get-out.
    • We learn that there are only three people who knew Campbell was a spy. After Wirtanen, the second was General Donovan. (Who is the third? We are dying to know.)
    • This conversation is not all sunshine and roses, though.
    • At one point, Wirtanen Nazi-shames Campbell because, well, he was so creepily good at being one.
    • Campbell's response to being called a Nazi?
    • Campbell: That's not fair! How else was I supposed to survive? To stay on air?
    • Wirtanen: That's on you. You were very good, though. That's on you, too.
    • Okay, time to tie up loose ends: Wirtanen is getting Campbell out, and he suggests NYC.
    • One last thing.
    • Who was person-in-the-know number three?
    • The late President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
    • That's who.
  • Chapter 33

    Communism Rears Its Head…

    • Oh man, oh man. Ready for the lowdown of the third meeting between Campbell and Wirtanen?
    • Sweet, that's what we thought.
    • Okay, here's the thing: Campbell doesn't really know what to expect. Like, this could totally be an ambush.
    • Campbell plays at skulking around the building with a gun. He romanticizes the concept of infantrymen.
    • Campbell meets with Wirtanen without incident.
    • Wirtanen tells Campbell more things.
    • This time, those things are really, really not good.
    • Resi Noth and Kraft are in cahoots: they're communist spies.

  • Chapter 34

    Alles Kaput…

    • Ummm...what? Like, but no. What? No.
    • These are just some of Campbell's feelings after Wirtanen shares the news that Resi and Kraft are metaphorically stabbing him in the back.
    • The conversation continues.
    • Campbell: You just took everything away from me. No lover, no friend.
    • Wirtanen: You still have a buddy, lil' buddy.
    • Campbell: Explain.
    • Wirtanen: Kraft—he's genuinely your friend. See, he's two-faced just like you. He'll cut you, but he cares.
    • Wirtanen goes on to explain that the plan was to kidnap Campbell once he was outside of the U.S.
    • Campbell: And Jones?
    • Wirtanen: Oh, that guy. No, he lurves you.
    • Campbell: Okay, so they get me, then what was their plan after that?
    • Wirtanen: They take you to Russia. Use you as an example of Fascist grossies that the U.S. protects andddddd try to get you to say that the U.S. was sweet on Nazis even during the war.
    • Campbell: I'd never!
    • Wirtanen: They figure you'll cooperate because they'll just threaten to kill Resi if you don't play nice. Simple, no?
  • Chapter 35

    Forty Rubles Extra…

    • Campbell gets that the love thing was a ruse, but how did Resi get her hands on that trunk filled with his writing?
    • ZOMG, Shmoopers, this is the best part of this twisty conversation.
    • Two words: Stepan Bodovskov.
    • Okay, more words: Bodovskov is an interpreter with Russian forces. During the invasion of Berlin, he finds the trunk. He employs his interpreter skills by reading this German trove of creativity and decides: Imma steal this and pretend I wrote it.
    • Surprise, surprise—the Bodovskov-Campbell "collaboration" is a hit.
    • Bodovskov is uber famous and raking it in. Anyway, Russia loves the writing, and it's getting translated into other languages.
    • The biggest hit is a play called The Goblet.
    • Stalin loves it.
    • Campbell can't remember it.
    • Wirtanen summarizes it: it's a love story set among the protectors of the Holy Grail wherein extramarital sex is pardoned in cases of pure love.
    • Even the, um, saucy stuff in Bodovskov's "memoir" is a smash.
    • For forty extra rubles, you can even get the full-color illustrations.
  • Chapter 36

    Everything but the Squeals…

    • Campbell is ticked—we mean majorly—about the illustrations. It ruins the work to have pics. It makes the writing not the writing. It's a travesty.
    • Wirtanen isn't moved.
    • Campbell shares a saying from the Chicago Stockyards that a use is found for every part of a pig, except for the squeal.
    • Except, Campbell argues, they've taken his squeal, too—his words are all a lie.
    • The bright side? Campbell is glad about Bodovskov. At least someone gets to live as an artist off his works.
    • Wirtanen: You mean lived. Bodovskov got tried and shot.
    • Campbell: For plagiarism?
    • Wirtanen: Nope—he was shot because he decided to write his own satire about the Red Army. Whoops.
    • Shifting gears now, Wirtanen says he wants Campbell out, because there's a raid planned for the newspaper building. Jones will be arrested, Resi deported, Kraft jailed, Keeley and Wilson set adrift, the younglings reprogrammed and sent home.
    • See, there's a plan for everyone.
  • Chapter 37

    Dat Old Golden Rule…

    • "Dat Old Golden Rule" is the name of a cheesy song that's playing when Campbell gets back to the newspaper. He's decided there's nowhere else he'd rather be.
    • The cat's out of the bag, and Campbell reveals to Kraft and Resi that he knows.
    • Kraft and Resi flip out. Kraft pulls a gun, but Campbell is faster.
    • Resi says her plan was not to betray Campbell, because reasons.
    • Kraft asks how Campbell found out.
  • Chapter 38

    Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life…

    • Resi begs Campbell to give her a reason to live. Any reason. If not for love, then for what?
    • Shoes?
    • That chair?
    • Travel?
    • Belly button lint?
    • TELL ME.
    • Campbell says nothing, and then they all get raided.
    • The head of the raid is a red-blooded American with red-blooded snark.
    • This American jibes Jones, whose mind, Campbell describes, is like a gear-clock with certain teeth filed off. Translation: Jones cherry-picks what to believe and ignores facts that don't fit into his fantasy.
    • Exhibit A: In addition to Jews, Jones hates blacks and Catholics. His two companions are a black man and a Catholic would-be priest.
    • How? Selective memory?
    • Campbell takes a moment to pat himself on the back: he's never lied to himself. He's been a butt, but he's always owned up to it.
  • Chapter 39

    Resi Noth Bows Out…

    • After a bizarre demonstration of warped patriotism on the part of the young men gathered in the basement, the officer mocks Kraft.
    • The officer lets Kraft know that the network of spies Kraft relied on were all U.S. agents. Russia wants him dead for his failure.
    • Kraft crumbles, then regroups: he is a painter, after all.
    • The officer moves to Resi, who's doing a little tour guide-style survey of her stay in the country.
    • Resi isn't interested in jokes. Instead, she just pops a cyanide capsule into her mouth, runs to Campbell, and dies in his arms.
    • It would be tragic if it weren't so melodramatic.
    • Yeah, we're cold, too. We've seen—um, read—too much.
  • Chapter 40

    Freedom Again…

    • See Campbell get arrested.
    • See Campbell get released from his holding cell in the Empire State Building in under an hour. (Blue Fairy Godmother?)
    • See Campbell freeze once he steps outside.
    • He's not cold or shocked or sad or frightened.
    • Nope, he decides he just has no reason to do anything.
    • So he doesn't.
    • Enter police officer.
    • See police officer tell Campbell to mosey.
    • See Campbell skedaddle.
  • Chapter 41


    • Campbell walks back to his apartment and imagines himself a lightning bug due to his smoking. The world is filled with lightning bugs.
    • Campbell gets to the apartment building, and it's dark, with the exception of one lightning bug providing light: Dr. Epstein.
    • Campbell is stopped by a friendly and curious patrol officer who wants to confirm that Campbell is the reason for the earlier ruckus.
    • The officer also wants to share his theory of everything with Campbell. That theory is: chemicals.
    • Chemicals make people cray. Or not. Depending on their use.
    • The officer may go back to school to study chemicals.
  • Chapter 42

    No Dove, No Covenant…

    • The apartment building and the stairwell are musty. The attic apartment is definitely not.
    • That's because all of Campbell's windows have been broken in.
    • It's okay—Campbell likes it.
    • Sort of.
    • At least it's fresh air.
    • Plus, it all reminds him of Helga and that time they survived bombings and climbed stairs in buildings that led to nowhere.
    • Campbell and Helga were like Noah and his wife. Except that God hadn't promised them anything.
    • It reminds Campbell of a time during the bombings in Germany when he saw the wife of a schoolteacher shout to the heavens begging for answers. For a reprieve. Her husband hit her to knock her out then apologized to the Nazi patrol.
    • The Nazis offered forgiveness.
    • The teacher woke his wife and reverently told her she was forgiven.
    • Meanwhile, bombers continued bombing.
    • The couple's kids sat there like nothing was happening.
    • We can't relate. Something is happening. We want to know what it all means. Urgently.
  • Chapter 43

    St. George and the Dragon…

    • Guess who's back? Back again? Tell a friend: O'Hare.
    • Campbell finds O'Hare hiding in his apartment.
    • O'Hare's pale, thin, and drunk, so Campbell assumes he has a gun. He keeps an eye on a pair of fire-tongs in case O'Hare attacks.
    • O'Hare—in his quest to be a hero—pulls a classic villain mistake: talking too much while letting the other guy get a jump on you.
    • Here's what we learn.
    • O'Hare is bitter about his postwar life because he has a job coordinating ice cream trucks while his bills are too high and his wife keeps having babies. We're pretty sure it takes two people in post-WWII America to have a baby, but O'Hare isn't thinking straight.
    • While O'Hare jabbers on about how evil Campbell is—he may even be the Devil—Campbell breaks the dude's arm with the fire-tongs.
    • Cue O'Hare's shame.
    • Campbell and O'Hare go out into the hall, and Campbell scolds him about ideology and nationalism.
    • O'Hare pukes.
  • Chapter 44


    • The stench is nast.
    • Campbell gives up. He knocks on Dr. Epstein's door and turns himself in. He wants to be sent to Israel for trial.
    • Dr. Epstein shoos Campbell away, saying he's not a Zionist.
    • Campbell hears Dr. Epstein arguing with his mom in German. The way they say his last name sounds like "Kahm-Boo."
    • Dr. Epstein's mom comes out into the hall, and she and her son bring him inside.
    • Campbell doesn't look so good. The doctor tends to him, and they call three others to make a citizen's arrest.
    • Sitting in the kitchen, Dr. Epstein's mom croons in German at Campbell: "Corpse-carriers to the guardhouse" (44.84).
  • Chapter 45

    The Tortoise and the Hare…

    • So here Campbell is in Israel. His trial begins tomorrow.
    • Campbell reiterates that he just needs a witness for his dealings with Wirtanen.
    • Campbell's lawyer is hopeful and is having Campbell's mail forwarded from NYC to Israel in case anything new turns up. Fingers crossed.
    • Today, Campbell has three letters.
    • Letter 1: We hear you're an educator. (Campbell's not, but he applied for a teaching gig many moons ago, and they keep sending him scholastic materials.) Please consider using our happy toys to help kids be orderly and calm.
    • Campbell's reply: No. Kids need to be aggressive for an aggressive world. Plus, they should play with people, not things.
    • Letter 2 is from a company that wants Campbell to invest in their stock.
    • Letter 3, though…Well, letter 3 is miraculously from Campbell's Blue Fairy Godmother.
    • Wirtanen writes that his real name is Harold J Sparrow, and he's going against orders to attest to Campbell's recruitment as a spy.
    • Seems like Campbell's going to be a free man.
    • Campbell decides it's time to kill himself.
    • Surprise!