Franz has a nervous breakdown. Reinhold, Konrad, the Reaper Death.
Whore of Babylon; the Reaper Death; Ecclesiastes. Now that we have the big picture, let's take a look at the details, and how they work together.
We'll focus on just the opening pages since, as with most works, the opening subtly lays out the aesthetic plan for the entire work. The first of the novel's countless, yet defining, paradoxes occurs when we learn that Franz, who is both savage and innocent, sees prison as a place of safety, and the outside world as a looming, booming chaos.
This passage is typical of the entire novel's style, which is why we'll look at it closely. Mitten unter den Leuten. In ihm schrie es entsetzt: Achtung, Achtung, es geht los.
Er stieg unbeachtet wieder aus dem Wagen, war unter Menschen. Wie sich das bewegte. Was war das alles. Man mischt sich unter die andern, da vergeht alles, dann merkst du nichts, Kerl. Es — lebte — nicht!
So stand das da wie die Laternen — und — wurde immer starrer. He shook himself and gulped. He stepped on his own foot. Then, with a run, took a seat on the car. At first it was like being at the dentist's, when he has grabbed a root with a pair of forceps, and pulls; the pain grows, your head threatens to burst.
He turned his head back towards the red wall, but the car raced on with him along the tracks, and only his head was left in the direction of the prison The car took a bend; trees and houses intervened.
Busy streets emerged, Seestrasse, people got on and off. Something inside him screamed in terror: Look out, look out, it's going to start now. The tip of his nose turned to ice; something was whirring over his cheek. He got off the car, without being noticed, and was back among people again.
Chest out, you starved sucker, you, pull yourself together, or I'll give you a crack in the jaw! Crowds, what a swarm of people! How they hustle and bustle!
My brain needs oiling, it's probably dried up. What was all this? Shoe stores, hat stores, incandescent lamps, saloons. People got to have shoes to run around so much; didn't we have a cobbler's shop out there, let's bear that in mind! Hundreds of polished window-panes, let 'em blaze away, are they going to make you afraid or something, why, you can smash 'em up, can't you, what's the matter with 'em, they're polished clean, that's all.
The pavement on Rosenthaler Platz was being torn up; he walked on the wooden planks along with the others. Just go ahead and mix in with the people, then everything's going to clear up, and you won't notice anything, you fool.
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