The Role Of Women In Gunter Grass?s Cat And Mouse Essay, Research Paper
The role that women played in Nazi Germany was a small one, one in which they were expected to do small things to help the war effort. The role women play in Cat and Mouse is not much better that those in Nazi Germany. It can?t be completely determined if these are Grass?s personal views of women, or if he is trying to make a point about how unfairly women were treated in his time, but there were two basic roles that women played in this novel. There was the seductress, a woman who either knowingly or not, tried to get all of the men she could, and there was the simple-minded woman, who wasn?t completely sure of what was going on, and tended to gossip and carry on.
The characters who fit the first description are Tulla, Pilenz?s mother and the commander?s wife. Throughout the story, Tulla is consciously trying to lure the boys into some sort of sexual activity. There is the instance on the boat, where she begs them all to masturbate for her (Grass 42-45) and there is the time where she comes out wearing a tiny, threadbare swimsuit that exposes her as though she were naked (Grass 105-106). This is her only role on the book; every time she is mentioned, she?s either doing something sexual, or being thought about in a sexual way. Various times throughout the novel, Pilenz dreams about taking her to the movies, or getting her to go all the way, but nothing ever comes of it. The next character, Pilenz?s mother, is just in the novel for a short time, but the only thing it mentions about her is that she is cooking dinner for a man, and Pilenz can?t remember which of her many men it is (Grass 143). The third character also has a small role, but a very noticeable one. The commander?s wife is only in the story as a woman who, seemingly against his will, lures Mahlke into a week long string of sexual encounters (Grass 148) (As a bit of a side note, there were also the girls who attended the speech and weren?t wearing bras [Grass 85]).
The two women in the story who fit the second characterization are Mahlke?s mother and aunt. When Pilenz comes over to visit Mahlke, they sit around, saying inappropriate things and rattle off question after question. A number of times, Mahlke is forced to steer them back onto the subject, or tell them that certain questions aren?t appropriate; they can?t figure this out by themselves. Later on, when Pilenz meets Mahlke?s aunt on the street, she misses the meaning of the tanks at the bottom of the letter, something he picks up easily. She is also missing the bigger picture later when Pilenz comes over and asks for canned meats and other non-perishable things. She doesn?t ever think something might be wrong, she just gives him cans of food and sends him on his way (Grass 176).
The average woman in this story is not portrayed in the best light. If it were just for that, I would think Grass has a dislike for women, but he includes the Virgin Mary. She is the center of this story, and is the object of Mahlke?s total devotion. Based on that fact, the women in the story seem to represent the way women are commonly viewed, and the Virgin Mary represents the way they should be viewed.