By the autumn of 1634, the war has taken half of Germany's population. A hard winter has come early. Everyone is starving, the towns are razed, and only begging—rather than business—remains. Courage and the Cook appear in rags before a half-ruined parsonage in Fichtelgebirge. They ring to ask for food, but there is no answer. Courage suggests that they sing for their alms.
Abruptly the Cook tells her that he has received a letter from Utrecht: his mother has died of cholera and left him the family inn. Recounting the woes of the land, Courage confesses that she tires of wandering. "The world's dying out" the Cook responds, inviting her to join him at the inn. She must, however, decide whether she will join him immediately.
Courage calls Kattrin and tells her of the plan. The Cook asks to have a word with her alone. Once Kattrin has returned to the wagon, he tells her that they must leave Kattrin behind with the wagon. There is no room for her, and the customers do not like to look upon disfigured mutes. Courage does not know what to do; Kattrin overhears the conversation.
Calling to the parsonage, the Cook sings "The Song of the Great Souls of the Earth." It recounts the fates of Solomon, Julius Caesar, Socrates, and Saint Martin, all of whom meet their dark destinies on account of their respective virtues—that is, wisdom, bravery, honesty, and pity. Thus, a man is better off without such qualities. A voice calls them inside. Courage decides she cannot leave her daughter, and they enter the parsonage.
Kattrin climbs out with a bundle, laying a skirt of her mother's and a pair of the cook's trousers on the ground as a parting message. Courage emerges with a plate of soup and stops her daughter. They toss the Cook's belongings on the ground, harness themselves to the wagon, and depart. The Cook enters, still chewing, and sees his abandoned possessions.
During 1635, Courage and Kattrin follow the ever more tattered armies from central Germany. They come upon a prosperous farmhouse on the highway. A voice inside sings of the house's prosperity through the seasons. Courage and Kattrin stop to listen and then start out anew.