Mother Courage and Her Children | Study Guide

Bertolt Brecht

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Mother Courage and Her Children | Scene 12 | Summary



Mother Courage stands over Kattrin's body. The peasant family begs her to leave before the next regiment arrives. They promise to give Kattrin a proper burial, and Mother Courage gives them some coins for the service. She thinks about trying to locate Eilif but doesn't know where to find him. She straps herself to the cart, hoping she can pull it on her own, and exits singing the same song that introduced her character in Scene 1.


As the audience expects, Kattrin's death does nothing to change Mother Courage's views of the war or her place within it. The loss of all three of her children—though she is still unaware of Eilif's death—has done nothing to enlighten Mother Courage as to her role in their deaths or to the evil of wartime capitalism. Before Kattrin is even buried, her mother has harnessed herself back to the cart and says, "Got to get back to business again." Her reprisal of the song she sang in Scene 1 further underscores her unchanged character as she continues doing what she has been doing for all these years. Such behavior, in Brechtian theater, is to be expected—Mother Courage is not a realistic character who is altered or enlightened by events or experience, but rather continues consistently to embody the need for enlightenment and change, even if contained in her very flawed character.

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