Analysis

As the poster introducing the scene indicates, here the "stone begins to speak." Contrary to the consolations Courage offers throughout the play, Kattrin's muteness does not save her from involving herself in the war. She intervenes in spite of her silence, acting where those around her will not. The scene underscores her resolve. Unlike the hostile peasants, she will sacrifice her material possessions and life to rescue the town. Notably, Kattrin again appears as a "good mother" in this respect, saving the children while her mother is off once more haggling for supplies.

In the Courage Model Book, Brecht emphasizes the importance of alienation in this one of the more conventionally "dramatic" scenes of the play, insisting that the director stage it without allowing the audience to be so easily taken up in its pathos. For example, the peasants carefully justify their failure to intervene, supporting each other in the belief that there is nothing they can do. Ultimately, the only action they can divine is prayer. The Peasant Woman's appeal to God and analogous groveling before the Captain can only recall the "Song of the Great Capitulation." Not only do the peasant capitulate but conspire in Kattrin's murder, readily informing on her and participating in the attempts to bring her from the roof. For Brecht, the actors playing the peasants must underscore the ritual character of despair. In other words, the ways in which the years of wartime suffering have frozen them into fixed forms of begging, informing, and lamentation. This ritualization is the deeper horror underlying this episode.

The final scene is similarly unrecognizable without Brecht's techniques of alienation. Contrary to immediate appearances, Courage's lullaby resists sentimentality. Instead, she sings it murderously. By promising her child the extraordinary, she argues that this mother's child must fare better than all others. For Brecht, the lullaby to the corpse would reveal her persistent, treacherous hope of bringing her child and her child alone through the war.

Similarly does the staging demand rigorously realist details. In Brecht's production, for example, Courage mechanically subtracts a coin from the sum she gives the peasants for Kattrin's burial. This "realist discovery" would reveal how Courage retains her capacity to reckon in all her grief. Along with this revelation about the contradictions and conditions of human nature, the undo emphasis on such detail would decompose the theatrical illusion for the spectator, critically breaking it into pieces according to the dominant narrative principle of the epic theater: "one thing after another."

Such techniques of alienation are paramount to the play's conclusion, a denouement that would illustrate how Courage has effectively learned nothing. Having lost another child while haggling and then initially denying her daughter's death, she quickly disposes of her corpse to return to the march: "I must get back into business." Thus, she takes up the wagon, hauling it across an empty stage recalling Scene 1. Courage comes full circle, remaining a "damned soul" who works endlessly at the business of war.