Quote 5

“If you were twenty-three when you said those things to me this afternoon, I shall take them seriously.”

In Act Three, Bluntschli worries that because he perceives Raina to have been a just girl when he met her, she was not capable of making lasting statements of romantic love. Thus he places a hard limit on the notion that Raina’s youth makes her unmarriageable. But of course Raina is the same person at seventeen as she is at her real age of twenty-three. This indicates, perhaps, the limits of Bluntschli’s own rationality. He will not make a marriage proposal to a girl, only to a woman, but that insistence on rules ignores the fact that Raina, despite her relative youth in either case, has saved his life, and is clearly old enough to organize her affairs in other realms.

This comment is also an occasion for comedy, as Raina has argued she does not lie about anything. However, both Catherine and Raina are shocked when they find out that Bluntschli has believed Raina to be truthful about her own age. They believe that no woman could ever be truthful about age. This points to Bluntschli’s warm and childlike credulity, something that Raina finds as appealing as his desire for chocolate creams.