Study Guide

The Sound of Music Quotes

  • War

    HERR ZELLER: I suppose you noticed the obvious display of the Austrian flag in the hallway?

    Herr Zeller, the local Nazi party chief, is honked off about the captain's display of the Austrian flag. He wants the Captain to stop clinging to his silly patriotic ideas and embrace the arrival and increasing power of the Germans. The pro-Nazi characters have a sense of invincibility and believe that the occupation is an inevitable reality, so everyone should just deal with it.

    BARON: Is there a more beautiful expression of what is good in this country of ours than the innocent voices of our children?

    HERR ZELLER: Oh, come now, baron. Would you have us believe that Austria alone holds the monopoly on virtue?

    CAPTAIN VON TRAPP: Herr Zeller, some of us prefer Austrian voices raised in song to ugly German threats.

    A little later at the captain's ball, Captain von Trapp and Herr Zeller get into a snippy exchange. Given what we know about how the Nazis often dealt with their opponents, the captain is showing some serious chutzpah.

    HERR ZELLER: Perhaps those who would warn you that the Anschluss is coming—and it is coming, Captain—perhaps they would get further with you by setting their words to music.

    In the same conversation, Herr Zeller sarcastically suggests that Captain von Trapp is ignoring the reality around him. According to Zeller, Austria is 100 percent going to end up annexed to Germany. The character of the captain is a stand-in for the resistance movement in general.

    CAPTAIN VON TRAPP: Edelweiss, edelweiss, bless my homeland forever.

    This innocent-sounding folk song is the captain's slap in the face to the new regime. As a national symbol of Austria, the flower is bound to stir up patriotic sentiment in the audience. The Nazis waiting for him to finish the song are not amused.

    CAPTAIN VON TRAPP: You give that to me, Rolfe. Did you hear me?

    ROLFE: I'll kill you.

    CAPTAIN VON TRAPP: Rolfe. You'll never be one of them.

    ROLFE: Lieutenant! They're here!

    By this point, Rolfe is way more than a bad boyfriend. He's willing to turn the family over to his Nazi pals. The point of this scene is to show how fanatical adherence to an ideology can destroy compassion and common sense. That would never happen today, right?

    HERR ZELLER: I have just come from the house of Captain von Trapp. Incidentally, the only one in the neighborhood not flying the flag of the Third Reich since the Anschluss, but we have dealt with that situation.

    Unfortunately, as Herr Zeller predicted, the Nazis do invade Austria while Captain von T is off on his honeymoon. Zeller uses the captain's absence as an opportunity to hang the Nazi flag at his house. Captain von Trapp rips it right down when he gets home. Although his status as a high-ranking naval officer protects him to a certain extent, this is still a very in-your-face move.

    HERR ZELLER: Why should it not go on? Nothing in Austria has changed. Singing and music will show this to the world. Austria is the same. Heil Hitler.

    Max has just congratulated Herr Zeller on "allowing" the music festival to go on as planned. For Herr Zeller, it's clearly an opportunity to pretend that everything is the same in Austria after the Nazi takeover. But it's not. Hint: the "Heil Hitler" is the giveaway.

    MARTA: Why was he so cross?

    MAX: Everybody's cross these days, darling.

    MARTA: Maybe the flag with the black spider on it makes people nervous.

    LIESL: Is Father going to be in trouble?

    MAX: He doesn't have to be. The thing to do these days is to get along with everybody.

    This is a good example of the film's approach to the war: the children are shielded from thinking about it. Marta is a good example of childhood innocence of war and bloodshed. All they know is that Daddy's in a bad mood when he looks at that "spider," i.e. swastika, flag.

    MAX: Georg, this is for Austria.

    CAPTAIN VON TRAPP: For Austria? There is no Austria!

    MAX: But the Anschluss happened peacefully. Let's at least be grateful for that.

    VON TRAPP: Grateful? You know, Max, sometimes I don't believe I know you.

    The annexation of Austria was one of the first steps in a world war that tore Europe apart and resulted in the deaths of about sixty million people (source). Is the film suggesting that it was people like Max, who advocated just going along and not making waves, who allowed the situation to snowball into the global catastrophe that it became?

    And here's a heretical idea: maybe the captain wasn't so brave, after all. He fled. He could have stayed and joined the Austrian resistance, small as it was. But we'll give him a break. He had seven kids, and he saw the political situation at home as hopeless. The captain knew he'd be arrested and his family threatened.

  • Love

    MARIA: And the little ones just want to be loved. Oh please, Captain, love them, love them all.

    When Maria first arrives in the von Trapp household, she finds that the captain keeps the children at arm's length. Maria pleads with him to let them in. You've got to feel for the poor kids. They've lost their mother and now they have a father who calls them with a ship's whistle.

    BARONESS: There's nothing more irresistible to a man than a woman who's in love with him.

    MARIA: In love with him?

    BARONESS: Of course. What makes it so nice is . . . he thinks he's in love with you.

    At the party the captain throws to introduce the baroness to his friends, the baroness realizes her boyfriend has feelings for Maria. Strategic lady that she is, she decides to drive Maria away by telling her about the captain's feelings—guessing (correctly) that the very pious Maria would be mortified. She's way more experienced in the arts of romance than Maria, who's probably never given it a thought before now.

    REVEREND MOTHER: Are you in love with him?

    MARIA: I don't know! I don't know. […] There were times we looked at each other, I could hardly breathe.

    When Maria goes back to the abbey to escape the romantic sitch with the captain, the Reverend Mother doesn't take long to press her on what happened with the von Trapps. She's wise and perceptive, and guesses what the problem is right away. She says it in a way that's totally non-judgmental. As a nun, she's taken a vow of celibacy but she knows that life in the abbey's not for everyone. Maria's so inexperienced that she knows she has strange feelings for the captain but can't identify them as love.

    MARIA: To have asked for his love would have been wrong. I couldn't stay, I just couldn't.

    Maria feels like loving the captain was wrong, since she had pledged herself to God and her job was just to take care of the children. She's still a postulant nun, and she thinks she's committed a huge sin by abandoning her mission.

    REVEREND MOTHER: Maria, the love of a man and a woman is holy, too. You have a great capacity to love. What you must find out is how God wants you to spend your love.

    The Reverend Mother has an expansive view of love—love is love is love. She recognizes a loving heart when she sees one and knows that Maria needs to find the right place to express all that love.

    CAPTAIN VON TRAPP: Well, you can't marry someone when you're in love with someone else, can you?

    In the film's most romantic scene, Maria and the captain finally admit their feelings to each other. Maria's totally flustered at first, but in the song "Something Good," she says that this must be her good karma for having done something good in her life. She's amazed that he loves her.

    This song wasn't in the original Broadway production. Rodgers wrote the music <em>and</em> lyrics for it since Hammerstein had died. In our humble opinion, you can tell. Sample lyric: "Nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever could." Huh? Shmoop is a sucker for the song it replaced: "An Ordinary Couple."

    LIESL: You love Father very much. I can tell you do.

    MARIA: Very much.

    Liesl, being more than a little interested in boys, is very curious to get love advice from her new stepmother. It seems to Shmoop that Maria's matured a lot since she left on her wedding trip. She suddenly seems more serious and poised. Does being a married woman do that to you? Does true love calm you down and make you grow up?

    LIESL: Mother, what do you do when you think you love someone? I mean, when you stop loving someone. Or he stops loving you?

    MARIA: Well, you cry a little, and then you wait for the sun to come out. It always does.

    Liesl's just realized that her romance with Rolfe is going nowhere, since he's dumped her for the Nazi Party. Luckily, Maria's there to offer some much-needed perspective. But again, where did she suddenly get all this wisdom about relationships? A couple of months before, she was studying to become a nun, and we doubt that teenaged romantic drama was on the syllabus.

  • Religion

    REVEREND MOTHER: Maria, it seems to be the will of God that you leave us.

    MARIA: Leave?

    REVEREND MOTHER: Only for a while, Maria.

    When the decision is made to send Maria to the von Trapp home, Reverend Mother attributes it to the will of God. (We assume she did a lot of praying about it before she came to that decision.) She knows that presenting it as God's will will make Maria take the plan seriously.

    MARIA: "When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window."

    Even though she's upset at being asked to leave the abbey, Maria tries to see God's role/presence in her new journey, just as the Reverend Mother suggested. For a devout person like her, this gives her confidence that things will work out, even though she's scared to death.

    MARIA: God bless the captain. God bless Liesl and Friedrich. God bless Louisa, Brigitta, Marta and little Gretl. And oh, I've forgot the other boy—what's his name? Well, God bless what's-his-name.

    Even though she's left the abbey, Maria's still devout. Praying by her bed on her first evening in the von Trapp house, she's careful to work the family into her prayers. Prior to leaving, she'd been afraid that would mean leaving her faith behind. Sounds like Maria's God has a sense of humor.

    REVEREND MOTHER: Did you let him see how you felt?

    MARIA: If I did, I didn't know it. That's what's torturing me: I was there on God's errand. To have asked for his love would have been wrong. I couldn't stay, I just couldn't. I'm ready at this moment to take my vows. Please help me.

    Maria's not using her religious faith in a very healthy way here. She's using it to avoid dealing with a huge emotional dilemma. Inside the cloister, romantic problems don't exist. Fortunately, the Reverend Mother won't let her get away with it.

    REVEREND MOTHER: Maria, the love of a man and a woman is holy, too. You have a great capacity to love. What you must find out is how God wants you to spend your love.

    MARIA: But I pledged my life to God. I pledged my life to His service.

    REVEREND MOTHER: My daughter, if you love this man, it doesn't mean you love God less.

    Reverend Mother tries to assure Maria that there are other forms of holiness—and that loving Captain von Trapp isn't a betrayal or abandonment of God. Maria isn't immediately convinced, but eventually she realizes she needs to go back and face her feelings. It's cool that a celibate cloistered nun like the Reverend Mother would be so wise and open-minded about romantic relationships.

    REVEREND MOTHER: God be with you.

    Reverend Mother offers this blessing to Maria as the von Trapps are fleeing from the Nazis. She's been instrumental in helping Maria keep and redefine her faith as necessary throughout the story, so it's fitting that she plays a role in the biggest challenge Maria will face. The Reverend Mother is a really centered, calm person in the film. You can see that her faith totally guides her life and gives her serenity. She's completely predictable and consistent in her responses to everything. Where do we sign up?

    SISTER #1: Reverend Mother, I have sinned.

    SISTER #2: I too, Reverend Mother.

    REVEREND MOTHER: What is this sin, my children?

    (They hold up wires they've yanked out from the Nazi soldiers' car engines.)

    The Reverend Mother's knowing glance at her nuns lets us know whose side God is on according to this movie.

  • Family

    CAPTAIN VON TRAPP: Children, in the morning I shall be going to Vienna.

    CHILDREN: Not again, Father!

    GRETL: How long will you be gone this time, Father?

    CAPTAIN VON TRAPP: I'm not sure, Gretl, not sure.

    In addition to summoning them with a whistle and just generally avoiding any displays of affection, the captain also spends a lot of time away from home. You'll be happy to know that his children remembered the real Georg von Trapp as a fun, loving Dad who spent tons of time with them. That wouldn't have made as good a movie, though. The plot needed to have him cold and distant so it could illustrate the power of music and love.

    MAX: Do I hear wedding bells?

    BARONESS: Pealing madly! But not necessarily for me.

    The captain brings the baroness home to meet the children, which both she and Max are hoping is a sign that he's thinking marriage. Somehow, she doesn't strike us as the family type. She's portrayed as glamorous and worldly, but not interested in the messy business of raising kids. If one of the governesses only lasted two hours, we can imagine the baroness lasting ten minutes.

    MARIA: And the little ones just want to be loved. Oh please, Captain, love them, love them all!

    Maria nails the captain on his refusal to let his children be children or offer them any affection. This is the scene where we really see Maria as the anti-baroness. We're practically screaming at the screen for the captain to wake up and ditch the other woman before it's too late.

    GRETL: Father, who is our new governess going to be?

    VON TRAPP: Well, you're not going to have a governess anymore.

    CHILDREN [together]: We're not?

    VON TRAPP: No. You're going to have a new mother.

    We don't know about you, but Shmoop found this scene to be very upsetting. The baroness is standing there stiff as a board; she's just told Max that she's shipping the kids off to boarding school ASAP after the wedding. The kids are devastated and trying not to show it. It is not looking good for the children. Or for Maria, who's on her way back to the house to take the biggest risk of her life.

    VON TRAPP: Maria, is there anyone I should go to, to ask permission to marry you?

    MARIA: Why don't we ask . . .

    VON TRAPP: . . . the children?

    We've known all along that this von Trapp family would eventually include Maria—we just didn't know how it was going to happen. Thanks to the baroness for removing herself from the picture so that Georg can marry the woman he's just realized he really loves. Somehow, we don't think the kids are going to object.

    CAPTAIN VON TRAPP: Max! Somehow I recall having made it quite clear to you how I feel about my family singing in public.

    Even though Captain von Trapp has let music into the house again, he does not want to put his children on display. He's loosened up, but not that much. The idea is a little too "Toddlers and Tiaras" for his taste.

    LIESL: Mother? That sounds so nice. I like calling you "Mother. "

    MARIA: I like hearing it.

    Maria and Liesl get down to some serious mother-daughter bonding when the von Trapps return from their honeymoon. Liesl may have initially claimed she didn't need a governess, but turns out she most definitely wanted and needed a mother.

    CAPTAIN VON TRAPP: It says the von Trapp Family Singers. And I am the head of the von Trapp family, am I not?

    With some quick thinking, the captain manages to convince Herr Zeller that the family's on its way to the festival to sing (as opposed to fleeing the country). It's appropriate that the music that rescued their family in a more emotional way earlier in the film is now going to save them in a more concrete way.

    Another real-life fact: Maria and the captain married in 1927, eleven years before the German invasion. The family did win the Salzburg Music Festival in 1936 and began singing together professionally all over Europe. When they left Austria in 1938, they traveled with their musical conductor.